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Black Lit Bags, A Photoshoot, An Art Exhibit


Playing is what I do when I am at my best. I border on the ridiculous many days, making it easy to relate to everyone but those stuck behind their self imposed boundaries of protection. 

One day I just felt like cutting out different coloured circles of canvas with no goal in mind; just random play.

I don’t know when I noticed the placement of red, yellow and black in a vertical line but like most moments in my life when there is an insight waiting to be birthed, it is delivered as an immediate felt sense that either fills me with warmth or empties me completely where I can’t differentiate the boundary between my body and the rest of the world. I know I am being somewhat less than humble, thinking I actually experience, “Insights or wisdom shifts.” Whatever I experience, it is different than my everyday awareness or lack there of.

Of course  I thought, “It is a traffic light,” with black replacing green.  

I saw it as a new global directive whereby current leadership across all economic, political social and educational institutions was immediately replaced with black, brown, and indigenous leadership, primarily women. 

Given the current state of planetary destruction, we need new leadership immediately.  

Aligned with Desmond Tutu’s quote and the Dalai Lama’s sentiments.

“Once you have women liberated, it’s amazing how many other problems get resolved-poverty, education, health. Women are the key in any community.”



My best friend Mwayi, AKA Malawian hiphop celebrity Black Pace/Lady Pace (the model) and daughter in law Katrianna, a professional photographer, head to Vancouver’s Water Street, a popular shoot destination for street photographers.

Our goal: Shoot the collection of 12 Black Lit Bags for a look book to launch a campaign to resource women leaders in Malawi. 

At some point between running in and out for outfit changes at a local Italian restaurants, I start chatting to a man who had sat down at a picnic table. He is watching our chaotic efforts to get as many shots during that golden hour of light. He asks about the bags. He likes the bags. It is the first time I have created a collection. I was flattered that he liked them. He then asked me very specific questions; “Are they waterproof, How much etc..” He then proceeded to say he was with Dolce & Gabana and gave me his card and told me to contact him.

I noticed that his interest seemed to validate my work. 

I never created a look book and I never called him. I actually threw the number out by mistake. I was suffering from what they call, “Imposter Syndrome.” I wasn’t ready to really begin my life as a designer. I was still playing.


I decide to show my 12 bags in an art gallery. The Niche Gallery on Granville Island generously made room for my humble showing. I see each of them as works of art not just mass produced bags and with the encouragement of friends priced them accordingly.

People say they love them. I dont sell any. 

My friends had words of encouragement, projecting their own disappointment on me. I was however happy. I was indifferent as to whether they sold or not.

Decades ago when I visited Vancouver, I had fallen in love with Granville Island. My state of wonder with regards to how my journey had so radically shifted from natural gas broker to artist filled me with more wealth than any dollars possibly could. 


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