Pole, It's Been A While

Hello All, it has been a while since I last posted here.

Since the last one there has been an amazing trip to Australia with my friend and colleague Emanuel Mbise where I was introduced to Callum, grandchild number eight.

The hospitality shown by folk who included Robert & Penny McIntyre, Kathleen Hunt and Sally, Tom, Frazer, Quinly Deacon/Hardwick was much appreciated.

Presentations at Queensland College of Art and Gympie Regional Gallery and "The Taste of Tanzania" 3 day event organised by Wendy Birrell & Penny McIntyre at Wan' Din' In Art Space were very successful with terrific folk attending. Emanuel had a brilliant time and what he learned and observed whilst in Australia is proving very valuable as he grows in his role in Arusha.

Since arriving back I have been part of the development of Arusha Artists Association which will advise government on all things art, develop art education programs, arrange art exhibitions, aspire to a higher standard of art in Tanzania in preparation for the 2019 East Africa Art Biennale. I also continued to tutor a student in drawing and art theory, had a drawing workshop with 25 women at the Dawoodi Bohra mosque and a very successful Arusha Christmas Fair and Tanz Hands Markets.

The sewing business is going along nicely and we are aiming to have a fashion parade in March/April this year.

There was some investigating moving into a share house with Emanuel and his brother John but the process in Tanzania ia daunting to say the least so now we are building a house on the family plot in Nkoamansa.

In the village, Nkoaranga Tanzania, where I work and teach there are 320 children at school who are outside the NGO/charity/donation network. Everyday I observe these bright, intelligent young people walk home in tattered school uniforms, I weep. Having been in Australia where I see so many with so much I am now compelled to start supplying these children with new sweaters. Included below are images of an old school sweater and presenting a new one to Heaven who was thrilled to receive it. Can you imagine attending a school where most of the children wear tattered clothing like this? 

There has been a wonderful response from folk who became aware of this initiative through Facebook, thank you.


The studio is commencing its new jewellery course this coming Monday with four students who have completed the introduction unit.

Everyday there is so many joyful time countered by heartache and frustration. The images below reflect some of my life here in Tanzania, flora that is familiar and others strange. Insects and critters fill my life, regular sightings of various monkeys and exotic birds add colour and magic to my life. 

My passionate affair with Mounts Meru and Kilimanjaro continues unabated, the majesty and magnitude of these two regularly reduces me to tears.

I hope the images portray some sense of my continuing magical time in Tanzania.

To you all, have a fabulous 2018.


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Home in Two weeks for Six weeks.

Home in Two weeks for Six weeks.

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Greetings from Nkoamansa, Tanzania.

It has been a tough couple of months, the wet season was truncated but was pretty miserable, wet and cold. The ground is already dry and it looks like a lean year for water.

June/July turned very cold in the night and morning exacerbated by the high altitude and cloud preventing the sun from appearing, quite often all day. If you wanted to get warm down to the plains we would go. Difficult to comprehend we are just over three degrees south of the equator.

Life became a bit more manageable and exciting a couple of weeks ago with a friend renting their car to me for 3 months. The other Friday was a national government holiday so after lunch we thought, let's go for a drive, some hours later we arrived in Karatu (, not as tourists but the brother of a friend lives there.

Most of this blog will be told through images, I will endeavour to fill in as much detail as I can.

There are stones, so enjoy bargaining with the Maasai in Arusha, baboons, blossoms, mountains, washing, examples of learning traditional beading and anything else I may have missed like moving house in a public bus and how mechanics organise to repair ones car, There is some new work from the studio and Lake Manyara. I have a rather large collection of kitenge, kanga, java and shuka fabric, one of the images is a stall where I purchased more, the colours are intoxicating.

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Nkoamansa, Mbise Magic

Sometime ago, in the dim shadows of the late 70s, maybe early 80s, I devoured nearly every publication on 'positive thinking' that was available including Robert Schuller's "Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking". I tried so hard to make it happen. It was only many years later that I learned the principle of Psalm:1; "That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers".

How does one attempt to describe the extraordinary? That time when your possibilities become ones realities.

The view from my back yard is Mount Meru and a minute or so through coffee and banana plantations is this view of Mount Kilimanjiro. 

The wet season can be a bit trying but once the gumboot, brolly routine clickes in, it all goes pretty smoothly, especially when you slip on the ice skate rink type muddy surface on the hills.

Reflecting on the acceptance that the top suite in the top hotel is no better or worse than sleeping in a slab room lined with cardboard.

The joy of meeting so many people with too many questions and seeing their eyes brighten with understanding as you share the hypotheses of your life experinces and possible conclusions that seem to make sense.

It's Saturday afternoon and I'm sitting gazing through the banana leaves at the sun setting over Mount Meru. Whilst I sit, I reflect on whether life is good or bad, difficult or easy and conclude it is none of these, it simply is. Enjoy

The images below show the track I walk to work with a couple of meaty hills. Cooking with Muma Mbise my little buddy Imrahn, a tragic Manchester United support whos street name is Manches, mine is 'Chels'. A lovely piece of fabric I aquired in Kakadu in 2004, is now proudly worn by Muma Mbise.

The ring and pendent were a commission using uncut, unheated tanzanite.

The studio is on Facebook:

Instagram:, Email: and has a fancy business card.




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My Place in this Space

While it was great to acclimatise in the volunteer accommodation at The Small Things, Nkoaranga, it is brilliant living in the community with a family.


Some will recognise one of the works on the wall, it is such a privilege to have Bianca Beetson's art here with the First Peoples of Tanzania in their country.

The bonus is the great view of Mount Meru from the back yard.


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