Inspired by Travel- Village Ken, Tunisia
I am always inspired by travel and the culture, art and artists of other countries. A few years ago, I was blessed to be able to participate in a 12 day art and architectural tour of Tunisia in North Africa. It is a country of great contrasts from a most rustic way of life on the Algerian border to the modern Hotels and casinos on the Lybian border.
One of the most interesting visits was to Village Ken in Sidi-Khlifa. I have never seen so much creativity, and dedication to the arts, in one place; it was truly amazing and inspiring! This village ,or city of the arts ,was the dream of Tunisian artist Nejib Belkhodja and architect Slah Samaoui built it according to the artist’s drawings. Ken in Arabic means ” Once upon a time” and this school is dedicated to re-teaching the disappearing ancient crafts and all techniques and art forms that express the Mediterranean, Arab-Muslim and African cultural heritage. Nejib Belkhodja introduced abstract art to Africa and was tireless in promoting the arts there.
“Artistic creation is what links the multiple fibres of a …….cultural personality. This is a place (that) restores our faith in humanity. Love, friendship, art and architecture flow through this village like water.” anonymous
Glorious masses of Bougainvillea cover the pristine white stuccoed walls which are constructed with only “local materials and ancestral know how”. Music, textile weaving, architecture, pottery, furniture making and the fine and performing arts are just a few of the creative genres taught here with an emphasis on old, traditional methods.
Village Ken remains one of the most inspiring and uplifting experiences of my life and I hope to visit again some day and perhaps spend some time studying the arts there.