One Poem by Sheree Mack

NINE MUSES POETRY

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

suggestive here of rest or of sleep

Dear Theo,

you should see the Yellow House!
Especially in the sun. It’s working
its magic on my tired eyes. Here
in the heart of Provence, I’m blessed.

I write to you giving you details
about the direction of my work.
It’s simple really. I plan to paint
my bedroom. I will paint my bedroom

for you so you will at least have a feel
for this place. A taste. It’s a kind of blue.
Like musical notes fading in and out
with the light. A suggestion of something.

The door, the walls, my jackets and
washing jug and bowl. Blue.
Cornflower blue. Prussian blue.
Lilac blue. Can you picture it?

I lie my head down here and dream
ideas. I see the colour blue caressing
my floating body in this room.
You’ll see when…

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Life Drawing Class

 

A couple of evenings ago now, I attended a life drawing class locally. This was the first time I’d attempted something like this. But in all honesty, I wasn’t worried about going along. And once I got there, I totally enjoyed it.

It was weird at first though as when I got there, I recognised one of the women standing up taking. I thought to myself, I didn’t know such and such as an artist. It was only when the introductions were made did I realise she wasn’t an artist but the life model.

It could have been an embarrassing night after that but it turned out to be very liberating and interesting. Within that setting, the human body naked became nothing to be embarrassed about but became something else. Something, an object for want of a better word, that I was attempting to capture a likeness of on paper. It wasn’t flesh but more so angles and curves, light and shade.

It was good practice for getting lost in the flow of creativity. To feel the texture of the paper, hear the scratch of pencil as well the rubbing of charcoal and stains appearing everywhere. My senses became heightened and I was present in the moment. It was awesome.

Would I return? Yes I would but I would probably go along to an open session rather than a tutored session. As I didn’t go along so much as to learn about drawing the human form ‘properly’ with the right proportions. I went along to play and just let loose. A chance to try something new and free up my creativity. I’m not practicing this to get anything right. I’m doing this just to express what I feel or see or think. That is always right to me. For me.

SistaSite

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Welcome back to the new look website. I hope you’ve noticed the changes!
For one the website address might still be saying ‘Living Wild Studios’ but the title is proudly showing my artist name, Sheree Angela Matthews. This has always been my practicing artist name but for a while there it was acting as my one and only name.
When I needed to go underground and keep a low profile, Sheree Angela Matthews became my safe haven. And I am so grateful for this name stepping up as it did.
During this Summer’s social media hiatus, this website lay dormant and I spend a lot of time thinking and creating and planning. To the point that as this hiatus comes to an end, I’m now ready to step out from the shadows and reclaim all of my names, all of my identities. I’m ready to come home.
What does this mean? It means division and diversity. It means Living Wild Studios remains my home for my artistic creations. Here you will find my paintings, prints, photography and collages. Even some visual journaling and ecourses.
But from now on if I’m not writing on my Patreon Page then I’m writing on my new SistaSite, Sheree Mack. Over there, you can read all my musings and essays and articles and creative writing. There I will have room to spread my wings and allow my voice to soar. I hope to see you over there sometime. But in the meantime, enjoy looking around here. And if you have any questions or requests or commissions drop me an email. I’ll be happy to connect with you.

Working Behind the Scenes

Through April, during my social media hiatus, I have had two intense weekends away from home. One experience nourished my soul. The other pained my soul.

I will write at length about this some other time, some other place. For now, the first weekend was wild swimming in Snowdonia. It was awesome and exhilarating and pushed me out of my comfort zone. And subconsciously, I must have known within my body that I needed this, and the sea swimming the week afterwards, in preparation for the following weekend.

I was the one and only delegate for my union, Artists’ Union England at the TUC Black Workers’ Conference. I presented a motion around discrimation within the arts and culture as well as the cuts in funding which are felt the most by already impoverished communities where Black, Asian and ethnic minorities predominately reside.

This weekend was educational, informative and inspirational, as well as a wake-up call. I say we live in a beatiful world, but this world is also ugly, unfair and unjust. Systematic racism is the operating means of power and control. And I forgot. I bury my head most days. I live in my own little world. And this is a luxury I have to readdress and change if I am to be the agent of change I want to be.

When you are woke, you stay woke. You have to stay woke in order to keep that fire in your belly alive.

Expect more to follow about both of these experiences and others.

But for the time being, this site is going into reconstruction.
It has been a year in existence and things need to change. Hopefully for the better. I’m not sure how things are going to turn out but I’m excited about the prospects.

This is a hold page while I do this much needed work behind the scenes. But I’ll be still writing and creating during this time.

To stay up to date you have three options.

1. Follow me on social media from May – IG @wildsoulwoman – images and words, twitter @awildsoulwoman – politics and insights

2. Subscribe to Studio Notes, receive a free download of poetry and intimate notes about my life and adventures about one or twice a month.

3. Become a patron for my Slow Writing practice on Patreon. Here I will be sharing my musings, creations and breakthroughs as I explore race, gender, power, the body and nature.

Hope to connect with you through any or all of these platforms.
Until next time, take care

Sheree x

We’ve got a Patreon Page

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I just send out a Studio Note this afternoon. And I’m sharing it here too as it has important information about my new creation; a Patreon Page.

Hello Dear One
I hope you are well.
We’ve been hit by another cold spell here’s in the UK, so I’m hygge-ing to the max; under throws, in my onesie with steaming coffee beside me. I’m also fighting an eye infection which is really painful as well reducing my vision.
I think I’ve been impatient to see into my future, rushing things when maybe I should be slowing down. So I have no choice now.
I’ve been reading Louise DeSalvo’s, ‘The Art of Slow Writing’ and something just clicked. I love writing on social media and sharing my creations, thoughts and feelings but sometimes it can be a distraction from the big work. Posting there is no substitute for getting out the stories I have within me and the stories I want to explore about black women’s bodies today, in society, as well in the past.
I want to change my practice. And it’s starts by taking back my time, to slow down my writing, learning my craft, and working hard to make sure every word carries meaning, carries worth and speaks from my heart and soul.I want my writing to bring about change. This is my way of being active within the struggle. Using my creativity. This is a revolutionary process. And I need your help.
Patreon is a platform that makes it easy for creatives to get paid. You pledge to support a creative through a one off payment or a monthly payment and through the process you get exclusive content and rewards.

Why do I need your support?

Your support will help me slow down my writing process but also help me write more. I know, a bit of a contradiction.
But this is how it will work for me.
Your support means that I have you watching. You are my motivation to write the truth, from a place of truth. With your support, there is no way I can make mistakes, slip up or drop the ball. You keep me accountable. You make an investment in my time and I have to deliver. For this I am deeply grateful.

On Patreon I will be sharing the process as well as the end products. I will be sharing the intimate aspects of my working processes. I will be learning along the way about myself, my craft, the world, the issues and I can’t help but share these breakthroughs as it’s part of my nature. To have you along for the ride means you are helping carry the load. You being there too eases the pressures on me, leaving more time and energy for me to create.

Is that you?

Please don’t worry if it’s not. As well as if you’re not able to support me financially at this time.

If you can, go check out my Patreon Page and see what rewards you can benefit from through sponsoring me. One-off contributions start from only $1, while monthly contribution start from only $3.
By all means, hit reply also if you have any questions or anything needs clarifying. I so look forward to seeing you over on Patreon.
Thanks for listening.
Until next time
Love
Sheree”

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Getting Paid

I’m in the process of setting up a Patreon campaign. This is an online platform where creatives, like myself, can be supported finacially by people who like their work. It’s a simple way for readers or listeners or viewers to pledge money as a one off payment or as a monthly contribution. Receiving this financial support during the creative process is invaluable. It allows us the time and space to create as well as showing respect and appreciation for our efforts and work.
My page is nearly complete. Again I’m procrastinating out of fear but slowly, I’ll get there. Stay tuned.

One last thing, I created a ‘Mission Statement’. What do you think?

“I give voice to the unheard. I bring the black woman’s experience to the page, shining a light on our trials and joys and courage. Through their experiences, readers connect to my words, appreciating the truths pulled from the darkness.
As a writer who didn’t believe in my voice once, I stand for women to claim their own self-worth and testimony.
My passion lies in telling and sharing our stories via poetry and creative non-fiction. My intention through this writing is to gain recognition for our presence and our contributions, establishing our legacies for now and always.”

 

Update: Page is now live

Remembering last year

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A year ago, March, I was on an artist residency in the #westfjordsiceland – remember? I created this time and space alone for me from scratch because I wanted to return and experience Iceland again after my island tour.
Wow want a difference a year makes. I got lost a bit out there, in the dark and desolate place. But I also found out stuff about myself; that I love solitude, exploring new places, and sharing my joy on my own terms. I’m planning on doing just that in June, when we have a #summersolstice creative retreat happening in #Iceland. This is going to be an intimate affair. Only space for 5 women, including me. It’s half filled already. Writing, art, yoga, nature, Wild swimming, good food, good company, laughter and no doubt tears.
If you’ve been itching to visit Iceland, this is your opportunity. Time away from your everyday,experiencing the sublime within a supportive sisterhood as well as space and time for solitude. As I said, I like my solitude and breathing space. Just to be. Check out the details in my profile. DM if you have any questions. #practice #visualjournal #selfportraitureasmedicine #seeingmyself #wildawimming #outdoors #womenscreativity #walkingwriting #walkingwomen #creativeretreaticeland #icelandcreativeretreat
 

Four Months: Friday

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Friday is our last full today together. It is with great sorrow that I have to bring this circle to an end. I hate goodbyes. I usually sneak out in the dead of night, before anyone else is awake, to avoid saying goodbye. To avoid having to look my fellow travellers in the eye and allow them to see how deeply this time with them, this experience has touched me, changed me.

But today, this time, I stand before you and acknowledge how much you have brought and contributed to this retreat. I couldn’t have done it without you. I acknowledge how much our time together has left such an impression upon me. I know I’m not the same person who arrived here just a few days ago to facilitate this holding of space for you.

I don’t want our time together to end, but end it must but I stand before you saying goodbye confident in the feels that you are leaving here also changed; empowered and inspired and more secure in yourself and who you be.

Before we leave, let’s spend one more morning together with our visual journals. Let’s continue the magic one more time as we play with paint, visuals and texts. Let’s share those images of our days together; the sunrises over breakfast, the tears of recognition as we open up to each other, the smells of fresh cooked pancakes and strawberries and chocolate, the laughter late into the midnight sun. Let’s make a promise to ourselves to keep giving ourselves this time and space to think and dream and breathe.

In the afternoon, we drive to
Jökulsárlón. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon, bordering Vatnajökull National Park in southeastern Iceland. Its waters are a strange turquoise blue, still and dotted with icebergs. On one side is a black sand beach. On the other, the route leads to the Atlantic Ocean. As mesmerising as this glacier lagoon is, it’s here evidence of global warming lies. What we do with this knowledge is yet to be decided. But the conversation has begun.

Four Months: Thursday

We leave our Eco-house early driving into Reykjavik for coffee and breakfast at Braun’s, a delicious bakery selling fresh bread, cinnamon swirls and croissants.

From here we have the length and breadth of the city centre to play with.

We become the Flaneuses, the walking women that we are. Armed with our cameras and pens and journals we begin our adventure.

We walk up the hill to the iconic church, Hallgrímskirkja. We take inspiration from the exterior, designed to resemble the Icelandic landscape with its rocks, mountains and glaciers. This a sharp contrast to it’s clean, understated and simple interior of grey and padded pews. We take the lift to the top of the tower and see the streets of Reykjavík below us as well as the sea and surrounding snow-capped mountains. We are Queens, women unto ourselves up here. We take this sense of power and awe back down as we sit and take time to capture our thoughts and feelings of being here, now. Being present.

Let me take you into a hidden garden of sculptures just by the church. Einar Jonsson Museum. Many walk by and miss this moment of beauty. But we don’t as you have a frequent visitor to Iceland as your guide. Me.  We stop and write here too soaking up the quiet and peace right in the middle of the city.

Down the hill we walk in the direction of the museums and art galleries. We have a few to choose from and it all depends on what they’re exhibiting. The Photograhy Museum is a favourite of mine. The criteria for selection is women, nature and beauty.

We enjoy a workshop within the gallery, stopping for lunch and sharing our creations. Then the afternoon we have the time and space to shop, walk, explore alone or together but really experience the feel and buzz of this compact but vibrant city centre.

As the days are long, we can stay as long as we wish in the city, grabbing dinner, catching a concert at Harpa, experiencing the nightlife. We play it by ear as the adventure just keeps enfolding just beyond our next step.

Olwen Wilson

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When you find someone in your life who encourages you to hold onto your dream, who supports you in making it a reality, you have to honour them. You have to welcome them into your life and give thanks for their presence.

One such person in my life is Olwen Wilson. Olwen has gently supported me in bringing our Iceland Creative Retreat to fruition. Olwen has not only been a cheerleader but she is also offering her skills to the retreat. I thank you.

Let me introduce you to Olwen.

1. Tell us something about yourself

I’m Olwen (pronounced All-wen) Wilson. I’m an intuitive healing guide, secret keeper, advocate and fierce mama bear. I’m also a yoga teacher, Reiki master and I teach English as a second language to children.

The loves of my life are my husband and our seven-year-old son. My fur babies include two rescue cats that quickly claimed our family as their own.

I love getting out in the fresh air, being creative and learning new things. In the past year alone, I’ve given hand thrown pottery a try (I get an arm workout every time I pick up the mug I made), I made some recycled metal earrings, did some beading and needle felting, and learned to crochet (guess what my lucky family got as Christmas presents). But I’m also the happiest hibernating in our home because it’s the best way for me to recharge.

You can learn even more about me over on my website echorootswellness.com.

2. What gets you up out of bed in the morning?

Connection. Funny enough for this introvert (who can put in the effort to be an extrovert when I want to but will need to have a lot of down time to recover) I would never have thought that connection would be one of my biggest motivators.

Caroline Reynolds wrote in her book Spiritual Fitness, “Whenever we are forced into a situation where we cannot express ourselves honestly we suffer from what I call non-alignment fatigue. It occurs whenever you can’t express your natural exuberance, quietness, optimism or sadness in any situation.”

When I first read this, my world started to make more sense. She expressed how I had been feeling for years and why I originally thought that I was not a people person. I knew I definitely wasn’t a people pleaser (I enjoy being an instigator at times), but I still secretly wanted to be liked, so I acted in ways that were exhausting to me. And I also found myself swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum and purposely closing myself off as a way to protect myself.

It also helped me realize that perhaps I had been putting myself into situations that weren’t ideal. I tried to make friends or stayed friends with people who were nice enough, but they simply weren’t my people. I felt drained in those situations and relationships.

What I try to do instead now is seek out connections that bring me joy, get me excited and challenge me for the better. I consider myself lucky that I have a few great people in my inner circle who I don’t feel I need to be anything other than myself when I’m around them.

3. What do you know to be true in your heart?

Integrity is sexy and honesty is always the best answer. Apathy is a killer.

4. What was the best advice you’ve received?

You are your best advocate. I first learned this when I was dealing with a medical issue, but it’s served me well in other areas of my life too.

5. What are your thoughts about a woman’s place/ position in society at the moment?

It’s whatever, and wherever, she chooses it to be. She will potentially shift and morph her place/position over time, but it’s important that she has ownership over her choices. That’s my ideal.

6. How do you hold a relationship with the land?

I tune into it often and give thanks. Mainly because it helps me ground and since the land (earth) is supporting me, I check in to see what I can offer, or do, to create or keep some balance in our relationship.

Over the last few years, I’ve been getting to know my local trees, herbs and plants better. There’s so much to learn, but it’s been an empowering journey understanding how they communicate, their role in our ecosystem and how they may strengthen my health and support my family’s wellbeing. Knowing how to make my own tinctures, teas, infusions and bitters feels like I’ve been given the key to so much wisdom and I’m eager to know more.

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7. What are you looking forward to most about your time in Iceland? Why did you agree to come along for the ride?

I’m looking forward to EVERYTHING!!

I can’t wait to put my feet in the dirt and black sand, get splashed by a waterfall, get my hands covered in paint, explore my inner thoughts and feelings and enjoy time in this magical land around the summer solstice. Having a chance to spend some time with other women who want the same is a bonus.

Visiting Iceland has been a dream of mine for a long while now. Your (Sheree’s) posts on Instagram about your travels to the country made me even more curious about it. When you first announced that you were thinking about offering a retreat in Iceland I knew (in my heart) that I was going.

We met two years ago when we were both chosen to be community leaders in one of Mara Glatzel’s Facebook groups. I admired your words of wisdom and your honesty in all of your posts and comments. It didn’t take long for me to become a fan of yours and it was so easy to say “yes” when you decided to offer this retreat.

8. What are you planning to offer to the Iceland Retreat. What plans have to put in place so far?

My intention is to offer yoga sessions that include asana (yoga postures and poses), breath work and meditation to help you cultivate self-awareness. The focus will be on simple, yet effective, things you can do to feel better, and be more connected to your body and breath.

I’m a certified Curvy Yoga Teacher too so everything I offer will be accessible for all shapes, all sizes and all abilities. Plus, everything is optional… you always have a choice.

The biggest compliment that I ever received was from a student who said she felt like I would be totally fine if she just wanted to hang out in savasana (corpse pose) for the entire time and listen to my voice. And I would! If that’s what she felt was best for her during our time together, I would have been delighted to offer her a safe space for her to take care of her needs.

My goal as a teacher is to offer sessions where you feel cared for, challenged, and help you learn how to honour your body at any given moment.

I expect to include some Reiki, restorative yoga, yoga nidra (yogic sleep), as well as some massage techniques that will help soothe any muscles that you may have newly discovered after one of our more active sessions.

The best thing I can say about what I’ll offer is that no previous experience is necessary. You don’t need a fancy wardrobe. Simply wear clothing you’re comfortable moving in and bring your curiosity.

9. Anything you’d like to add?

Is it June yet? I may be a wee bit excited for your retreat.