Sunday, May 27, 2007

The die is cast....

Well, with a lot of help from my highly organised daughter, (I still can't help wondering where she came from and how someone so orderly and self disciplined ended up in our family!!) I have taken the plunge, and moved out of my office. So, no more fence sitting, I am now OFFICIALLY a full time painter and no longer an interior designer trying to squeeze the art into impossibly tiny gaps of free time.

The move went fairly smoothly, and by some sort of unfathomable magic, K has managed to turn the chaotic tip that passed as Max's study and my studio into a room which is now his study, my studio, my study and the remains of the El Gecko office, yet is more spacious than before!! (perhaps I should start a business hiring her out to help people organise their lives and create order out of chaos, she's had some good practice in the last few years! Any takers? Hee hee)

The owner of the gallery where my solo exhibition was due to open this week had a few crises, and has postponed till the 6th June. I must say I am relieved, I have been really stressing to get enough done, while simultaneously wrapping up jobs and closing the office etc. And i have just started on a whole new direction which i am quite excited about, and want to explore further, so the extra time is most welcome...... will post pix later in the week.

In the meantime, to much more important things.......

Calling all you creative types... A project i was talking about earlier this year, here on my blog, has now had its funding approved but, still really needs your help.

What is Urban Cowboy?
The Urban Cowboy concept is simple; a blog ( based in Sudan, will link street boys there with creative professionals, like you, across the world. They will then get ideas, designs and tutorials from you, in various different crafts techniques, allowing the street boys to make unique gift and household products to sell in Sudan. Do you specialise in crafts like woodwork, pottery, metalwork, sewing, paper products and leather decoration? Urban Cowboy needs people like you, who will give the team of boys ideas and designs to make. Your tutorials will then be translated into Arabic, so the boys (16 and up) can learn step by step to not only make unique products but learn valuable trade skills, which they in turn will pass on to other boys.

What is the Bridge of Hope?

The Bridge of Hope Charity ( is a holistic project for the street boys etching a living on the streets of Khartoum. Since its inception in November 2003, Barbara, the director and manager, has, with her local team, launched the pre-school learning centre designed to bring the boys up to school level, a drop in/feeding centre, a residential annex and a sports class for older boys. For 2007, Barbara's hope is to achieve sustainability and self sufficiency within the project.

Who are the street boys of Khartoum?

Tens of thousands of Southern Sudanese young men and boys are unlucky enough to struggle on the streets of Khartoum, navigating the pitfalls of disease, despair and chemical addiction. Isolated and displaced by Sudan's 22 year civil war, little education and racial discrimination, they face little chance of ever finding gainful employment in a city already burgeoning with the unemployed. Although many of the younger boys are now attending the Bridge of Hope learning centre or are financed by the charity to attend local schools, the older boys (16-24) have sadly missed their chance of most education. They need a trade, a skill, something to allow them a small income, training in a skill and most importantly, a future.

The Urban Cowboy Project
Urban Cowboy aims to combat the perils of unemployment through the sale of modern and currently unavailable household goods and gifts for the local market and Ex-pats. Eventually it is hoped that they will even attract interest from international buyers. This will enable the young men of Khartoum to earn a living in Sudan’s increasingly competitive economy. Both Sudan’s thriving economic sector and the international fascination with this richly cultured nation, bode well for the sale of quality products including interior household products, gifts and cards.

With funding for tools and materials now approved, Urban Cowboy is well on in the way with the process of establishing vocational training workshops for woodwork, pottery decoration, leatherwork, sewing, paper goods and graphic design; using where possible, locally sourced and recycled materials. Its not just the street boys who will gain... As Barbara explains, “By using local materials we can, in turn, support other small and valuable local projects in their successes, like the Yous Rittena School for the disabled, which will supply the recycled/handmade paper and the pottery to the project”. The Khartoum Tannery is another locally run and raw product supplier whose skins are all Sudanese and of the highest standards. But sourcing local materials is not just good for the local economy, it also ensures that prices and supply lines will remain much more stable unlike the wildly inflated cost of imported goods.

What we need you to do...

  • Firstly, Urban Cowboy needs a logo, something fresh and funky that will become synonymous with our high quality products, yet still explores the boys' rich African culture and its intrinsic links to the cattle they keep.
  • Why not visit both the Bridge of Hope website ( and the Urban Cowboy blog ( to get a better idea of who we are and what we are doing here in Sudan.
  • Even better, why not link them to your blog/website? Or copy and paste this entry into your blog so Urban Cowboy can start reaching the wider creative world.
  • Do you have some great design ideas for us? Sudan is pretty much closed to all western media, and it's impossible to find design or fashion magazines, the internet is heavily censored and satellite television is only available to a small elite, but people want modern fashionable gifts and household items. Being so effectively isolated from modern design we need your help to bring it to us. Got a great tote bag design that you know will look fab in organic Sudanese cotton? Well we want it! What about great greeting card designs? Or some original artwork we can replicate on our cards? It will all create a livelihood for a young boy who needs it. If you work in leather, wood, metal or pottery we would be very happy to speak to you.

So there you have it, an opportunity to use your blog and your creativity to help a really worthwhile project!


Ash said...

Yeeeee Haaaa! Full blown artistdom - Good luck and enjoy yourself! - your pics are great and I am really enjoying seeing them posted up here. As to Urban Cowboy, I will add it to the Tart's Tales and see what we can do to help such a worthwhile cause.

Sheila said...

Having someone to organize for you is half the battle.
Nice to be relieved of some of the pressure..!
The Urban cowboy project is admirable, it would be great to give these young people a second chance.