Addictive Art Materials

Charcoal and soft pastels are addictive. Admittedly they are not in the class-A drug category of heroin or cocaine and there doesn’t need to be a government health warning about them, but there is something about their versatility that makes them so appealing. For the artist, charcoal and soft pastels are extremely satisfying to use;…

Back to the drawing board

After recently leaving my teaching post in Dar Es Salaam to move to Nairobi for my husband’s new job, I now find myself ‘in between jobs’ and consequently at a rather interesting crossroads in my life. The million dollar question, well, million shilling question is this: Do I continue with teaching Art and English or do…

Sketches of Tanzanian Markets

My family and I are in the process of relocating from Tanzania to neighbouring Kenya; so as one East African adventure closes, another begins… Although I may have physically left Tanzania, I am still keeping my memories alive by finishing off drawings in my sketchbooks. These sketches will go towards bigger art projects, involving acrylic…

A Botanical Paradise

After nearly three years of living in Tanzania, I am still amazed at the botanical paradise which surrounds me everyday, all year round. From the hibiscus flowers and bird of paradise plants in private gardens, public municipal areas and hotels, to hedgerows at bus-stops heavy with bourgainvillea and frangipani petals lying on the floor, the…

I am the resurrection and I am the life – The tale of Bertie Rooster

This is the story of the luckiest, most cock-sure cockerel that has ever lived – Bertie Wooster. We bought Bertie about a year ago. We named him Bertie, because my youngest daughter, Frida, has difficulties pronouncing the letter r and says wooster rather than rooster, hence Bertie Wooster. He soon had a lady friend which…

My Pen and Ink City Panoramas

A few years ago when I was going through a minimalist phase I did lots of simple pen and ink sketches, trying to capture faces, places and buildings in just a few black lines, by reducing everything back to its basic elements. Part of this project included a series of panoramic sketches I did of…

Dadas at the fish market

I’ve been painting this picture in my head for months now. The Kivukoni Fish Market in Dar Es Salaam is always busy. Both inside and outside the market walls there are scores of people; inside fishermen and traders huddle together around the many different catches of the day, outside house dadas dressed in brightly printed…

“How do you avoid the tourists in Stone Town?” said the tourist.

In the blistering heat of the sub-Saharan sun lies a labyrinth of narrow alleys lined with tall once whitewashed, now crumbling buildings. A walk through Stone Town’s higgledy piggledy streets, most of which are too narrow for cars, is like stepping back in time, providing you can ignore the high-tech gadget carrying tourists. The town,…

Regressing to my teenage gothic self at Whitby Abbey

One hundred and ninety nine steps up from a harbour town stands the imposing Gothic remains of a 13th Century abbey. On a clear day you can see for miles around, out to the North Sea on one side and across the Yorkshire moors on the other. And on days when the weather is rainy…

Matemwe Beach – Far Away in Time

At 31 degrees centigrade and with a hotch potch of people who frequent it, Matemwe Beach is a melting-pot in every sense of the word. Between sunrise and sunset the beach, situated on the northeast coastline of Zanzibar, becomes a hive of activity with scores of Zanzibari women wearing bright coloured kangas wading into shallow…

The dead cities of Syria

Scattered across the northwest of Syria, between Aleppo and Hama, are more than 700 abandoned settlements known as the Dead Cities. I visited these curious Roman and Byzantium ruins fourteen years ago, while I was living and working in Damascus. Little did I know at the time that Aleppo, the stylish and classical city where I was…