roots, culture, identity virtual art exhibition, 2022

Roots, Culture, Identity Virtual Art Exhibition, 2022

It gives me great pleasure to share a virtual exhibition which I’m part of.

Running from May until August 2022, you have the opportunity to visit a virtual exhibition to coincide with the TUC Black Workers’ Conference, 2022.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the beginning of this exhibition which came out from one of the recommendations of the TUC Stephen Lawrence Task Group, the exhibition aims to provide an opportunity for Black, Asian and ethnic artists with a focus on young people, who are marginalised and face discrimination in the arts and culture sector, to showcase their work.

For years, I’m been meaning to submit my work for consideration, however due to other commitments, or not even having the finances in order to ship/ take my artwork down to Marble Hall of TUC Headquarters, London, I’ve never completed the application process.

However, with the pandemic offering a different way of working and exhibiting artwork, this year, due to an extended deadline, I was able to find the time and space to submit something.

The theme for this year’s exhibition is Collective Action for Race Equality. The
inspiration for the theme comes from the horrific impacts of racism we face today globally
from climate injustice to the disproportionate impact of contracting and dying from
coronavirus.

I submitted photography that I felt reflected my connection with nature as well as the work I carry out with Earth Sea Love; to offer opportunity for developing a deeper connection with nature for People of the Global Majority (PGM). I took Community/ Collective Healing as my focus and hope my images offer moments of tranquility and healing, grace and hope.

The White Gaze

Visual journal 06/05

I do love a white gel pen on a black gesso page. I love the contrast but I also love that it reverses/ subverts the norm.

Quite fitting really when I was exploring my understanding/ operating of ‘The White Gaze’ today.

From Wiki: ‘ The White Gaze is the assumption that the default reader or observer is coming from the perspective of someone who identities as white, or that people of color sometimes feel the need to take into account the white reader or observer’s reaction.”

I wonder who wrote this definition? Loaded much, ‘assumption’ , ‘sometimes’ please. It’s our reality. It’s White Supremacy Culture. It’s the norm.

I’m learning ( all the time) how to survive the white gaze. And taking my lead from Toni Morrison, I know I have meaning and depth without the white gaze. My life has meaning without the white gaze. ‘ But we do language. That might be the measure of our lives.’

It might be a daily practice with need of constant reminders but I’m learning to create not for the white gaze, in spite of the white gaze and it’s repercussions.

I am learning to be free.

Let’s Go Outside

Visual journaling 04/05

At the moment, I’m using an altered (romance) book as my visual journal. I go with my moods when it comes to deciding what to use next for my visual journal. I listen to my gut and what she’s calling for in terms of size, shape, texture of page, of journal she needs in order to show up daily for the next month or so.

So with an altered book as my journal I was calling for space to explore colours but also layering, composition and found text.

There will be pages that are heavy with colour and my handwriting while others I’ll crave colour with space and some text cut ups applied.

I’m using Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye at the moment to create found poetry for double page spreads. The Bluest Eye was the first book I read in which I found someone who looked like me and who felt the same self-hate I was experiencing around growing up in a predominately white society being within a Black body. It was revolutionary for me and my personal development to find this book when I did.

I suppose using a copy of the book now to cut up and repurpose is saying something about how I’m feeling at the moment and how I want to see myself on the page. How I want to take back the space, take up space and be validated. But on my own terms.

I love how powerful visual journaling is to my psyche and how I move my body through this world but does so through such a simple process. It never ceases to amaze me what comes to light and fruition through this practice.

Photo walk : Come with me to Marden Quarry, Cullercoats.

After Covid in February, I committed to moving my body more in March. I felt tired and sluggish and beat. So I needed to shift my energy. Fast.

One way I committed to this journey was to set myself the task of walking every day. And for some reason it had to be 4 miles a day. I think this roughly worked out as my 10,000 steps a day. Now this is moving from 0 miles to 4 miles overnight. My body wasn’t happy.

What I found soon enough was how much more energy and joy I was experiencing in my day once I got out the door and walked. I walked every where for every conceivable errand and then some days I just walked because I promised myself to do it.

March came and went into April, and I continued the walking. Some days not quite reaching 4 miles while other days far out passing it. I noticed I was walking faster and at first this worried me. I used to think the faster you walked the less you would notice. Not the case.

I noticed the faster I walked the more in tune with my body and surrounding I became. My senses were more alert, colours were brighter, scents were sharper. I was more present. I felt amazing in my body and moment.

When I think I’m not in the moment, not in my body, in my walk then I slow down and start taking photos. I’ve performed photowalks for years now and I’m so pleased to be bringing them back into my practice now.

A Photowalk is just as it says on the tin; you walk and take photos of whatever takes your interest a long the way. I see something first and then stop and then see it again as I take a photo of it. Sharing it here with you, not only brings you along on my walk but also allows me to see whatever it is again and relive the moment, re-engage with my body and memory of the time. It’s a gift that just keeps on giving.

Today, I’ve upped my mileage to 5 miles a day moving forward. Of course I ended up doing far more, over 8 miles, but that won’t happen every day. If someone had told me back in February that you’ll be out every day walking just for the hell of it, I would have laughed as I was feeling pretty rough with and after Covid. But here as I up my time outdoors, living in and through my body, I’m so pleased I made this commitment to myself.

Look out for more Photowalks as the year progresses. I just love the beauty that can be found when I’m open.

Late Night/ Early Morning

Visual journal 03/05

I couldn’t sleep last night. Not sure why but sleep evaded me.

I read. I surfed the net and then I just gave in, got up brewed fresh coffee (yes I know not conducive to sleep) and broke out my visual journaling supplies.

I was no longer tired or annoyed or frustrated about the lack of sleep. I was wired and alert. My energy has shifted up a gear and I was in the flow.

Outside was dark and silent. Inside was just as silent but the lights were on and I was dreaming with my eyes wide open.

I felt as if I was stealing back time from my day. Getting a head start on the day ahead by already connecting with myself before the sun was even up.

I felt I’d been given a gift to be at my journal at this time of night/day. This totally shifted my mood into gratitude and joy.

Try it next time you can’t sleep. See how you feel afterwards. Something would have shifted in the process. Guaranteed!

Hopping Mad Today

visual journaling 02/05

Morning pages: visual journaling/ journaling done for now.

I like to get to the page first thing, the first thing I do each day after going for a pee and brewing some coffee. This is the ritual that is in place. Not every day can I fulfil this ritual, but most days, yes.

I find when I come to the page in this state, my night dreams are still hanging around me. I can still grasp onto them and explore them on the page. What do they mean? What is causing friction in my subconscious mind?

Today’s ramblings where not difficult to decipher as they relate to an email I received yesterday evening. I must bring back the ‘no email checking after a certain time’ rule. It just disrupts my calm flow state of mind when I do read an email late at night and allow it to work it’s way into my brain just before bed.

Anyway, I dreamt on it and was trying to find people who were in agreement with me about it. Hence waking this morning hopping mad as I’m not sure anyone did eventually agree with me. But I stand my ground this morning and go with my gut as she’s never seen me wrong.

It’s just tired really, having to point out yet again how the way someone is treating someone else is not okay. Maybe it’s okay to them and maybe no one has mentioned this to them before and so they continue to treat people this way. But common decency man, it costs nothing but goes a long way.

And maybe I’m taking it personally, maybe they act this way with everybody and not just with me and not because I’m a Black woman and viewed as less than. Maybe maybe maybe. This is how I’ve spent years making allowances for other people’s behaviour and treatment of me. Giving them the benefit of the doubt at the detriment to my sanity and my treatment of myself.

But no more. No one owes me nothing and no one owns me. I do not have to pussy foot around worried about causing offence because they’ve already caused offence to me so that shows me that they do not respect me and they do not see me. Therefore, you do not deserve my allowances, my excuses for your behaviour, or me trying to make you feel/ remain comfortable.

I’m not going to be rude or disrespect them but I will be speaking plainly to them. It will be interesting how they respond when I tell them my truth.

But all in good time, as another one of my practices is ::SLOW:: . Just because it suits someone to send an email at such and such a time, it doesn’t mean that it suits my timeframe and mind set to reply immediately and engage with their requests now. On their timetable, at their sense of urgency.

All in good time means all in good time for ME. Which isn’t at the exact moment as I think it’s another coffee for me and another few pages of visual journaling as I’ve got some shit to work out still.

Ah the beauty of visual journaling. Welcome to my world! See you tomorrow!

Close up of visual journaling 02/05

We’re Moving Into May!

Visual Journaling 01/05

My oh my! How this year is flying.

Things haven’t been going as planned over here in Sheree land and as such I find myself trying to reset my year. Each new month becoming my New Year.

But what I’m finding with each reset is that I’m disallowing the experiences I’ve had each month. I’m ignoring the progress I’m making each month, if any I may add. And I’m denying myself the joy and the pain of just living here and now.

So now we’re in May, I’m not resetting anything. Time is flying by but I’m living with it. And most of the time I’m happy within it too.

I live a blessed life really because most of the time, I’m in control of my time and how I choose to live it. Lately, I’ve been prioritising myself and my needs and wants. and I’m not even going to apologise for if this sounds selfish as I know when my needs and wants have been met on a daily basis, I turn up in the world for others and Mother Earth in a much better place. T

his means I show up with more love, patience and compassion for others. And that has to be a good thing for them, me and the world.

So I’m here at the beginning of May to thank myself for turning up here every day for the last two months, stretching my creativity. First with March and The Healing Properties of the Seas and then with April and a poem a day.

I’m also here to thank you for turning up here too and reading this. Liking it and even commenting on it. Thank you. You are appreciated.

I think I’ve gotten into some kind of groove now with posting daily and I don’t want to stop the momentum now. So what is happening in May? What’s going to be appearing here?

I think it’s time to share more about my visual journaling practice, hence today’s image. I partake in this practicing daily almost like breathing. And it sustains me just the same. So let’s move into May celebrating this life giving practice.

I hope through my sharing and discussion of visual journaling that you’re inspired to dip your toe into the practice also. It doesn’t have to be grand and it’s certainly not planned. I turn up to the page and remain open to what unfolds.

I’ll use the month of May to share what does unfold with you here. Hope you stick around for the journey. Thank you.

The Terzanelle – The Gaze

Too often we refuse to gaze
on something unpleasant to see.
Rubs against us all the wrong ways.

I don’t like to see an oak tree,
feel my neck snap. And my heart breaks
when there ‘s something unpleasant to see.

My words, a soundtrack for those taken;
blackmen whipped, flesh-eating scars, pain,
felt my neck snap and my heart broken.

Dead eyes and flashbulb smiles at the slain.
Who wants to look at these photographs?
Black guys, whipped, flesh-eating scars, pain.

Who has to deal with the aftermath
of bodies reshaped by tragedy?
Who wants to look at these photographs?

Callous grins surround,
too often we refuse to look.
Their bodies reshaped by tragedy
rubs us up the wrong way.

Caribbean Queen

Caribbean Queen, 2020, Blue Curry

After Blue Curry and Billy Ocean

systematically punching holes in dried palm-tree frond flesh, traditional craft works, it may be

but what about leaving me to my natural beauty?

weaving in dark cassette tape chorusing Caribbean Queen, a fusion of soul, reggae, R & B and Pop, is this a sign of respect or ridicule?

imitation gold earrings, massive hoops that weigh me down at the same time as being ingrained in my identity.

do you mock the tourists who flock to buy these artefacts or do you mock my style handcrafted out of colonial oppression to mark the self as subject of self, rather than object, chattal?

This poem is part of a series of poems created during the month of April, 2022, as part of the poem a day challenge. You can read the rest of the poems created during this time here.