Swapping Summerhall for Sierra Leone

Swapping Summerhall for Sierra Leone

This month, I’ve swapped my studio in Summerhall for the altogether warmer climes of Sierra Leone. I first went in 2014 with a Scottish architecture / construction charity, OrkidStudio, to take some photos of a new girls school they were building in Kenema. I instantly fell in love with Sierra Leone, but shortly after I returned to Scotland, was devastated to hear about the Ebola outbreak in the region I was just in. When I looked at my photos I would wonder how my new friends there were coping with this tragic pandemic, and feel helpless to their fight.

Swawou pupil in the new school

One of the Swawou School girls in her new classroom.

I began working closely with OrkidStudio, who have only recently been able to return to finish the new school building. When the opportunity came up for me to go to Kenema again this April, when the pupils moved into their new classroom for the very first time, I leapt at the chance.

The girls entering their new school.

The girls entering their new school.

But this time round, the reason for my trip was different. Last year, when speaking to James from OrkidStudio, I realised that I wasn’t powerless to help. Art has huge power. We decided that with the help of O Street design studio, we would make a photography book of my Kenema portraits and through that, help raise funds for the upkeep of this important school. We have all been busy behind the scenes making this happen and I can’t wait to show you the completed book soon. Watch this space for more details, and keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for news about the project. We need your help to make this happen. To help the community of Kenema. #KenemaBook


Moussa, the Swawou School Child Rights Officer, helping me lug my equipment around.

Swawou Girls celebrating their new school

Swawou Girls celebrating their new school.

Charles teaching class three

Charles, one of the teachers at Swawou School, taking his first maths class in the new building.

Girl planting her plant at Swawou School

One of the pupils planting her plant to grow up the wall of the new school building.