Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Trees from the Botanical Garden

Catching up on sketches done but not posted. Here a serie of trees from the botanical garden. In novembre I participated to an Art of Hosting workshop, and took the 20 minutes prior to the start of the day to quickly sketch a tree. It was a great way to be present in the place, and ready for the day.
Unfortunatly, I have no clue about the type of tree/ specie. Many of the name tags the garden had are long gone.
The garden remains splendid. 

bits and bits, skies and crawlers

Some insects bits from my sketchbook, the fortunate ones that have been picked up un the garden, or falling on me or one of the kids. 
The big one, the armoured ground cricket, is a regular guest of ours when in Inhassoro (Mozambique), my daughter use to call it a whassopper, so the name stuck. They are big and totally harmless. Big enough to feel it when they fall on you in the middle of the night. Unpleasant experience. 
My wife hates them.
My son loves wildlife, creepy crawlies and nature, 
My daughter loves my drawings
My son collects the creepy crawlies for me to sketch them. 
My wife cannot share the office with me following a running beetle. 
Between my wife and my kids + beetles, tough choice.   

As for the skies, I have been lazy lately, done some but not regularly. Same terrible colour rendering by the scanner, looks very dull and grey. Find it much better on paper 

Friday, January 9, 2015

What on earth is that?

What on earth is that is the title of a book for kids written by Sarah Savory I am illustrating. I just finished the last page yesterday, and here is a sneak preview of one of them. 

The story is about a pangolin (these weird creatures eating ants, full of scales and walking on their hind legs), one of the most endangered species IN THE WORLD. 
The book should come out this year, but the process started mid 2014. My wife then bumped into Sarah, at the market, buying tomatoes, bread and most probably Winkey's honey, I don't remember exactly but it does not matter at all either. In the conversation Sarah told her she wrote a book for children and is looking for someone to illustrate it, Lou told her that I was an illustrator and the one she needed. 
Small lie, big trust and best intentions. I had to say Yebo! I send her some sketches of an animal I had no idea what it looked like (thanks google), pimping it to look handsome. I knew that she was passionate about it. It was a bit like having to draw a portrait of someone else's love, only relying on google pictures. It is extremely difficult with google to be sure if the pangolins are actually male or female, central african, southern african or asian. Then again, Love is blind and Sarah is not fussy about their looks, gender or specie. Lucky me.
She liked it. And she trusted me too.

Next step for me was to meet one of these weird creature, and I met Marimba, in the Wildlife sanctuary. 
The blind date was set. Although we were a bit awkwards at first, we played the game, walked in the bush together, got personnal: I loved her scales in the sun, she played hide and seek in the tall grass with me, we shared ants and at the end she even showed her belly button as I was lying beside her. Now that is intimacy!
Looking at a pangolin belly should be on any sensible person's bucket list by the way.
I was amazing to follow the pangolin for a couple of hours, they are so bizarre. 
From there, I  actually had to do something I accepted doing but never really did before. It was quite exciting, really, to see the book come alive, discuss with sarah about colours, characters, etc. 
Really, really cool. 
All that to say that I am happy and thankfull for the trust and really want to see the book printed.
I'll look for new opportunities like that one! yey!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Social Workers in Kinshasa

Back to Kinshasa and work with the social workers of Anuarite and War Child.
I had an incredible time seing the social team discussing about their work, addressing their concerns and finding ways to address their difficulties.
I also had a bit of time to sketch and info-doodled my presentation of the study about girls living in the street, their activities and their relations with the social workers/ or, how to address socio-economic integration of the girls.
I am often surprized that the same recipes to get the girls off the street/ prostitution... are still in use when people talk about "re-integration". The same model that is bringing the same rates of success since they have been monitored end of the 19th century. And the same complains of the social workers can be heard today or read last century.
Girls are in the street for some reasons, and the street can give them a balance, support and understanding. As social worker, if we want to help them change, we have to make them dream of change, and help them in finding another balance, better than the one they have in the streets. There are no quick fixes nor recipes that fit all. It takes time, and grounding, and -for the social worker- to accept to let it go, work in teams, work where the girls are, understand the risks they take and the unknown they face getting out of where they are. They have done it once, leaving or being kicked out their families.
What is the better deal for them? What do they dream to reach?
Now we start to discuss. There are no problems to fix, only a bright future to build and reach, step by step.  


And Airport people, tired, waiting for the plane.

Happy birthday baby girl

Happy birthday Elena,
My baby daughter would have been two on the third of Decembre. So we had a birthday tea, with pancakes, strawberries and waited for the sun to go so we could launch lanterns in the stars.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Colour Spekes

I'mpossible HARARE!!
It is happening!
for the last week over a thousand people volunteered to clean and paint the pedestrian in front of town House in Harare. This is the result of over two years of preparation, contacts, lobbying and persuasion from Urban Space -my wife's company-. Lou has been relentless in pushing the idea of bringing art, environment and co-creation and working to transform public spaces. 
Mainly she loves Harare and have dreams that most people feel are impossible to reach because "they" should do something about it. They start with I and I turns into We. I'mpossible, Colouring, greening, bringing people together is not only something good to do, it is also something that is so important to build a community, to take ownership and to move forward.  She cannot take no for an answer - so being her husband it's not the most comfortable route all the time, hahaha.
For the last two years, she build relationships, shared her visions and dreams, annoyed people to the point of getting authorizations and then convincing them, making them part of her dreams and letting her dream go with the people who jumped in. The way she dances with people is truely a work of art in itself. 
She got support from the Culture Fund, Hivos, the Swedish Embassy, Proudly Zimbabwe (big up Fungai!), the Art of Hosting practitionners in Zim, the youths fro Kufunda's leadership program, Dulux and many many more. 
She launched a public consultation and vote for the designs to paint on the street, which saw the ones proposed by Jimmy Saruchera and Martin Steward being voted to be produced, and now, the city is a bit more colourfull. 
The reaction of the public is amazing, people were asking questions, participating in the paint, sitting on the new public seats, just feeling a bit more happy and smiling. 
And that is good. 
It is incredible what is happening here. 
The paint is only the tip of the iceberg. She has really been building bridges, a community, appropriation of a public space, and created something beautifull. 
She is just too cool.

 Our dining table withpart of the organizing team.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Oasis Game, Warriors of the Heart

Last post has been ages ago. In between we moved house and our daily routine collapsed.
That's fine with me. I did some sketching but had no ways to be online, which was not bad at all. I'll post them later.

Last week a youth organization from Chitungwiza organized a game. It is called the Oasis Game, and it aims at engaging communities to make changes that matter, with the resources they have.
In contexts were people expect the government or NGOs or donors or the prince charming, or a psy to solve one's problem, the game brings people to speak about their dreams, and challenge them to make them come alive.
Chitungwiza is a populated town on the outskird of Harare. Probably the second most populated city in the country. Not really a residential town, a bit like Joburg's Soweto or Alexandra. People dream of water, playgrounds for kids, less potholes, refuse collection, electricity... Nothing fancy. Most of things we consider as a right, then hold someone else responsible for it. When that body is not fulfilling its responsability then what? You can wait, you can be frustrated and angry, or you can make changes happening at your level.
The game was held and facilitated by the youth from the leadership program of Kufunda, coached by four south african Warriors of the heart (Kufunda's website / or the Warrior of the heart website  here). The Oasis game last for a long time, in this case it was shrinked to a week, so that the facilitators can listen to dreams, harvest them and build moments of celebration and action.
I had the opportunity to "crash" the game in the middle, last tuesday.
I invited a friend from Mozambique who heads an NGO focusing on community-empowerment and who asked me to help him designing a new project on youth participation. So instead of doing the job, I thought that it could be good for him to see alternative ways of working, based on participation, collective leadership and focusing on positive change.
We accompanied the facilitators during the day. As a white man in an environment where stereotypes are strong, I kinda thought sketching was the perfect way to pay attention and do something that is not expected of me. Perfect.
This is the short story of the day. 

From early morning, the team worked on harvesting the infos gathered during the last days. They build a tree whose leaves were dreams of the people, and made lists of citizen with talents: a gogo who can sew, a young slam poet, a group playing marimbas, schoolkids that can dance on the latest zim dancehall tunes and many others. 
From there, they organized a gathering, to promote talents and share the dreams.

No one ca have a party without guests. 
So, back to the community, talking to people, telling them, "hey, at two today we are inviting you to come for a talent show, how cool is that?"
They were all speaking Shona, words I do not understand, so they might have said something different or better, but I don't have any clues about that.
They just went to the people, spend the time needed to have a chat, and send invites. They dodged conflictual confrontations (if you pronounce the word change here, people think that you talk politics and are from the opposition. And people remember that it is not always a good thing to be associated with that), frustrated young men, drunks, people frustrated and asking for things to come. My two yellow leaders were doing well. Here they are at the market, chatting to a nail and screw seller. The guy in red came from another conversation. He was angry. Graduated but no jobs. 

After a couple of hours in the blaring sun talking to people, it's back to the meeting point, making a hell of a noise and cheering. the three ladies above were walking holding each other in front of me, was kinda difficult to sketch and walk, but they were really beautifull and to me summarized the spirit of the day.
Then the show started. As often, the first curious heads are the kids, so a kid dance was launched. Two steps to the right two to the left, turn and clap.
Lots of fun, more noise, and more people coming.


When the tent put for the shade was overflowing, four kufundis stepped up on stage. There was no real stage... but, as my 4 year old says, it is a pretend-stage. I got to be backstage (whichin a no-stage situation is an bit of a snag).
They started to sing something that must have been a welcoming song.
They definitly did not sing any fuck you bitch or You're beautifull type of tunes, people were not twerking neither, the public was happy, laughing and clapping, which is a good sign.
Positive vibes.  

From there, many young people came and showed their talents.
It was Chitungwiza got talent, without any judges - probably because there is no starbuck coffee or fresh diet zero coke available here, so why bother with a judge if not to display an add? Maybe next time we'll ask Chicken Inn (100% zim taste we luv), Irvine (feeding my family for the last 30 years) or Econet (You don't need a friend you need a buddy) and Chitungwiza got talent will have 4 judges eating chicken and waiting endlessly for their call go through the busy network.

It was cool.
But then I had to leave, to attend a meeting I ended up missing, so I went for pizza that took an hour and a half to get and got to chat with an art student who was also waiting for an hour and a half and who never saw a sketchbook.
When I got my hawaian pizza (a kids favourite) and got home, the children were Shrekked out and ate like donkey. I took a bath and coloured the sketches.
Cool day, cool people.
Thanks Aurther, Richard, Irvine and therest of the Kafundis for the day and having me with you.