I recently got this photograph from the #100daysofthegoddessandlove series enlarged and printed onto photo board.
I sat for a few days with her in my living room exhibited on a black metal easel. I would sit and just look at her. I would say to anyone passing, I made that. I was blown away by how beautiful my work looked. And it didn’t bother me if no one else loved it/ her it was enough that I did. I’m proud of my creation. I look at her and smile. I feel a deep swell of love for her. But really it’s for myself and my achievements. I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’m ‘doing good’. External validation is not sort or needed.
I didn’t make this physical piece of art to sit in my sitting room though. I’m preparing for an exhibition of prints; prints of the Goddess.
I’ve been invited to exhibit this series at a special fund raising event for a charity which is close to my heart, with which I’ve been developing a relationship with over the last couple of years.
The Angelou Centre, Newcastle, is a unique Black-led space dedicated to supporting and uplifting Black, Asian and ethnic minority women across the North East region of England. This centre offers a holistic approach to improving the lives of these women, some who are very vulnerable and are suffering. At a national level, the Angelou Centre strives to make sure these women’s voices are represented and heard, especially in relation to the issues that they face every day.
The Angelou Centre is celebrating 25 years this year and are organising an inspiring fund raising event to mark the occasion. It seems fitting that the Goddess should make an appearance at this special event because she is so very good at teaching myself and others what it really means to love and care for ourselves. There will be music and dancing, food and spoken word. I will be performing my poetry and reciting ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou. Such an honour.
I’m looking forward to the event but also nervous as I will be exposed in more ways than one on the evening. But I know in my gut that I’m so ready for this.
Friday 25 October, at the Grand Hotel, Gosforth Park. More details can be found here. See if you can come along. It’s for a great cause.
“Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” ― Morpheus
This was a great walk along a 6 mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall to finally seeing in real life the iconic Sycamore Tree. Tree of the Year, 2016 and the most photographed spot in the whole of Northumberland National Park, I’ve had this site on my bucket list all summer. So to finally be able to spend time with this majestic tree growing from within a gap in the Roman wall was a moment indeed.
Whin Sill the bedrock beneath the wall, in this area, has been naturally worn away by large amounts of meltwater flowing beneath the ice sheets to create channels, or gaps. Other gaps can be found at Rapishaw Gap and Milking Gap.
This tree has become famous not for its geology but for appearing on the big screen and TV, starting along side Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Brenda Blethyn in the TV series Vera and Robson Green in More Tales from Northumberland.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Today was a good day to walk. I’m making time in my day to walk. I’ve been sitting for far too long. I’ve read somewhere that sitting it like the new smoking – no good for our bodies.
But I’m of a more positive persuasion rather than being scared into taking action. I’d prefer run ( well in this case walk) towards the benefits of adopting new habits rather than the bad.
Reading an article in The Guardian about the benefits of walking and talking for our mental health, I learned nothing new but it did help as a reminder.
“You’re walking rhythmically together,” says Neuroscientist Shane O’Mara “and there are all sorts of rhythms happening in the brain as a result of engaging in that kind of activity, and they’re absent when you’re sitting. One of the great overlooked superpowers we have is that, when we get up and walk, our senses are sharpened. Rhythms that would previously be quiet suddenly come to life, and the way our brain interacts with our body changes.”
Over the weekend, I attended a Wretched of the Earth gathering in London focusing on #climatejustice, billed as Building Our Power. This was a first for me to attend such an event; where I knew the majority of participants would be black, brown and indigenous people as well as gathered together to discuss the climate crisis. I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited about the prospect as far too long I’ve been the only black face in the room when talking about the natural world, the environment and conservation.
The event didn’t disappoint. It was such an amazing and inspiring space to be part of as everything was being co-created; the values and actions, the tactics and strategies of the movement moving forward. What struck me and what I take away with me and move forward with is the way that the climate debate is framed within Western society is wrong and misleading. There has been growing concern for endangered species and the melting icecaps and how we can make a change through recycling and other such individual measures. Yet this narrative keeps hidden the major causes of climate change along with the pain and suffering that has been experienced for decades within the Global South because of such.
Climate Justice is about re-writing the narrative and exposing the inequalities and injustices that have been going on for the last 500 years through colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. This climate emergency cannot be divorced from other issues such as housing, crime, poverty and racism. we enjoy a privileged standard of living in the West because communities and people in the south suffer, be that through being used as cheap labour or have their homes and livelihoods decimated due to extractions industries and drought.
There is so much to be learned around these issues which I’m motivated to explore and share. The creative non-fiction memoir of mixed genres which I’ve been writing this year centres about a black woman’s body with/in nature, I envision to take on a more climate justice stance as I continue to champion how nature has helped me heal and how we, humanity, need to heal through our re-connection with nature.
At the beginning of August I started my third and final #100daysproject of 2019.
I started 2019, painting 100, A3 sized abstracts. Then come April when the official #the100dayproject took place, I jumped on board with painting and drawing Black women’s faces and bodies. I’ve found these practices challenging at times, especially when I’ve been traveling and had a shortage of time. But the flip side has been such a overflowing pot of creativity which has had a knock on effect with my writing and general outlook.
Now nearly 30 days into photographing my golden goddess statue, I‘m figuring out how this practice works in anchoring as well as inspiring me.
With these 100 days, I‘m carrying my beautiful goddess statue out into nature and taking instant photographs of her there. I’m using her as a surrogate for my own body in nature. She takes up space so confidently and with such a ‘don’t care less’ attitude, that her essence is rubbing off onto me.
How she behaves and holds herself is how I want to behave all the time when I’m out there in society, hustling and getting by. I want to have her self-confidence and self-awareness and magnitude. She is badass but so gracious with it. To have what she has, to be so in love with self and grateful for it is how I want to live my life.
Hopefully, from the practice and folllowing the goddess‘s lead, I could get there, well slightly there, over the next 100 days.
I’m not writing.
Writing that sentence makes me feel a whole lot better. I’m a writer who’s not writing. I know it happens to us all so I’m trying to be gentle with myself. It’s the summer holidays and my routine has gone to pop and I’m okay with that, I think. But there’s still a part of me who’s thinking I’m a fraud because I’m not writing. I’m even finding it hard to fill a page while doing my morning pages. I blame routine but I know it’s because I’m tired and I’m not allowing myself that much needed rest because I think I should be writing and doing( project related stuff).
Read the rest of the essay over on my Patreon Page.
While away from here, I received some good news that really reaffirmed my decision to pick up the pen again and write the way I want to write.
The lovely Annest Gwilym over at Nine Muses Poetry has nominated one of my poems for Best of the Net 2019 award.
Check out the poem which has been nominated ‘The Last Black Women’ here.
And I’m not fake bragging here but I’m just honoured to be nominated as this was unexpected and Annest had over 400 poems to choose from to come up with a short list of just 6 poems.
This nomination means such a great deal as there was a time that I wasn’t going to write, submit or share my writing again. I’m glad I decided to reverse this decision because all I was doing was denying myself a whole heap of healing and pleasure by not creating. I’m grateful for this recognition.