A recent addition to my portfolio has been details about my Trace Mentorship opportunity. This was an applied for opportunity to experience the time and space to focus on my photography through a structured programme with other women over 35 years old.
Through a series of talks, presentations, peer and professional reviews, the aim is to gain confidence, knowledge, exposure and further opportunities to develop our skills and establish our practice.
I haven’t really been able to devote the required time and attention to this programme due to immersing myself within the BALTIC commission, it feels like for most of 2022. With this being complete and installed, back from Washington State, now I have the time to really get to grips with this opportunity.
It started with a portfolio review with three experts. I had the great pleasure and honour of talking one on one with Hettie Judah,Cindy Sissokho and Bindi Vora. And what a tremendous opportunity this was to sit down with them (virtually) and talk about my work, my vision, my mission etc.
Not only were they very positive and supportive about my work, but they also offered inspiration, encouragement, reassurance and permission. Yes from talking to these people within the know, my practice, what I’m doing, or trying to do was recognised and appreciated.
I was given back permission and the confidence to keep doing me. To keep pushing the boundaries, to not place limitations on myself, my practice, or what a photograph can be/ can do.
I’m in a much better place now to expand my way of being, seeing and doing, and continue to bring my mixness, hybridity to what I do. I’m excited to see where this takes me.
I’m enjoying the process as usual and not worrying about the end product. And I’m taking my time, embracing the slow. This feels nourishing and good for my soul.
Right now my practice is on display within The BALTIC: Centre for Contemporary Art.
As I was out of the country when the group exhibition, Hinterlands, launched on Friday 22 October, 2022, I managed to get into seeing it after such event the following week.
I really didn’t know what to expect as you visualise the end result, the culmination of months of hard work, dreaming and winging it. But to actually see it all come together in a white cube space is another thing.
I visited my archive last week, with my daughter, excited and nervous and unsure. I got to see The Country Journal of a Blackwoman(Northumberland) exhibited on level 3 of The BALTIC. I was shocked and surprised to see my work out of context within this space. It was an emotional as well as nerve wracking experience.
Because of my absence, I had to leave instructions about the installation as well as extensive notes and labels for each art piece. There are about 50 items if not more within this creative archive. It’s to be expected that things got lost or mislaid in translation. So my focus for this trip was to make sure everything was how I wanted it to be.
After some discussion and sending of correct audio files, everything is now complete and as I want it to be presented to the world.
I’m not sure how I feel that during the launch of the whole exhibition, that things were wrong or missing. But I do know that after seeing everything in terms of my contribution and making things right after my visit, I felt great relief and was able to enjoy the achievement. It was also weird to be there at the same time as seeing peel interacting with my work. I’m not sure I want to have many experiences like that as their reactions did affect my state of mind, pride and achievement. And it would be very unsetting, I feel, to be there and witness someone laughing and disrespecting my work. I think this is something I need to gain a thicker skin for. But right now, my skin is thin for a number of reasons, tat I might explore here in time.
I know I have to return now, to take in the rest of the group show as well as the rest of The BALTIC’s exhibitions for this season, as this is a strong presentation.
I’m honoured to be showing at the same time with them.
Of course more reflection and images to come around this achievement.
HINTERLANDS 22 October 2022 – 30 April 2023, BALTIC: Centre for Contemporary
I’m stepping back into The Sill: National Discovery Centre as past Writer in Residence for Northumberland National Park as well as current position as Creatrix in Residence for Hadrian’s Wall to facilitate a walking and writing workshop.
Starting with the exhibition, we will use Jackie’s images as a field guide as we journey outside (in all weathers) to walk the landscape around The Sill and Hadrian’s Wall. With our sense of wonder stimulated and our creative pots full, we’ll return to The Sill to put pen to paper.
All genres of writing, journaling, imagining and creating are welcome in this workshop which is led by Hadrian’s Wall Creatrix and The Sill’s first writer in Residence, Dr Sheree Mack. The aim is to leave with a renewed sense of awe at nature and ourselves, as are we not all connected with nature as one?
Now, coming next month, through a successful Indigogo fund raising campaign, Intrinsic will be out in the world. And I’m overjoyed to see this project succeed. It’s been a while in the making, which isn’t a complaint as I am an advocate of ::SLOW:: but it was touch and go if this project was going to come to fruition due to finances. and that would have been a great shame and disservice if this beauty was lost to the world.
An anthology of 12 deep-rooted connections with the more-than-human world, this book is not like any other nature writing text out there. This anthology supports and uplifts the diverse voices which exist within this writing genre at the same time as expanding and redefining what nature writing can be.
I’m one of the twelve writers featured in this anthology. I took the time, and the much needed space, to explore something that I’ve been carrying around within my body and soul for a while; the link to the sea for my ancestors and me.
Seascape- Grief and Grievance and Healings is the title. It’s a narrative mixmoir piece rich in memories and hauntings, voices and references. I’m really proud of this baby and it was such a delightful process of creation throughout it all.
Please consider checking the anthology out, published by Creative Countryside and available to buy next month, July 2022.
When Petrified Trees Stand Up and March Into the Sea
I carve out solitude to wander wide open shores
sanddunes, pebbles and wooden limbs
Submerged a forest of trees so tall they flowed above the clouds
what we cannot control, we destroy and call it progress.
We advance like the tide to claim what we have no right to claim
concrete blocks, seaweed and dead seals, emerge from frothy waves and marram grass.
unseasonal storms uproot ancient trees while manmade concrete lines remain in tact in place in defence
here a legion of foreign bodies marched to expand an empire, build a wall then leave it to moss.
Bizzing dragonflies, shrubs of wax mirtle and the coconut vanilla scent of golden gorse
Some day soon all this will be gone,
gorse, grass, concrete wall,
washed away like blood as the sea returns to the source,
returns to where it belongs.
There’s a small hamlet, Low Hauxley nestled behind sand dunes along a long and quiet stretch of sandy beach on the Northumberland coast. Here along the high tide line stumps of an ancient forest are visible.
It is believed the stumps were preserved by peat and sand and are believed to date back to more than 7000 years and are the remains of Doggerland- an area of bogs, marches and forest that connected the British Isles to mainland Europe.
Archaeologists have also uncovered animal footprints and it is believed red deer, wild boar and brown bears would have roamed ancient Doggerland forest.
These petrified trees. This really blew my mind.
My name is Dr. Sheree Mack. I’m Creatrix : she who makes.
My practice manifests through poetry, storytelling, image and the unfolding histories of black people. I engage audiences around black women’s voices and bodies, black feminism, grief and healing, nature, identity and memory.
I advocate for black women’s voices, facilitating national and international creative workshops and retreats in the landscape, encouraging and supporting women on their journey of remembrance back to their bodies and authentic selves. This journey is supported and recognised by Mother Nature.
I’m the founder of Earth Sea Love, which is a social enterprise, offering opportunities to People of the Global Majority living in the north east of England to develop a deeper connection with/in nature.
The Earth Sea Love Podcast has developed out of these experiences and aims to change the narrative around who has a right to have a relationship with nature. I’ve recently been writer in residence for Northumberland National Park Authority. A black-led nature project I will add. At the moment I’m Creatrix in Residence for Hadrian’s Wall part of the 1900 years festival.
My Practice is a Healing Practice.
The Practice of ::SLOW:: is how I engage with my work and the world. Living within White Supremacy Culture, we are indoctrinated into certain principles and practices which benefit the few rather than the many.
Leaving aside racism and the systematic destruction of Black, brown and indigenous peoples, White Supremacy Culture, perpetuates the pursuit of perfectionism, product over process, and quantity over quality, to name but a few.
This means that the majority of us live our lives at speed, with a greater sense of urgency, with feelings of never being or doing enough, resulting in reduced contact to ourselves, our intuition and inner wisdom.
Slowing down supports me on my journey back to self and ultimately self-love and healing. Being and walking with/in nature teaches me how to slowdown and pay attention and just be.
Nature shows me that there is an abundance rather than a scarcity. It is through these practices that I fell in love with nature.
Nature and I are connected. We are one, therefore falling in love with nature, I fell in love with myself. This in turn means I turn up in life, in connection with others not only as a better version of myself but in a better place to offer love to other people.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect about this event or what I was going to share. But on reflection now, I’m so glad that I was invited to take part because I learned so much about peatlands within the UK, around the world and the special place they hold within the global climate crisis.
So much of my language around nature and the environment has been formed through white supremacy culture which has been biased on colonialism and imperialism and capitalist consumption. And of which I am at great pains now to unlearn and find a new language or it is just a re-memory of the language of my ancestors where there is no separation between us and nature.
Something that was raised last night by Khairani Barokka, which was totally new to my knowledge and way of thinking was that within indigenous communities gender was much more fluid and diverse. The binary system of male and female/ he and she which we take as a given now, as the norm, is a construction and part of the colonist program.
That the idea of “the coloniality of gender,” which might have seen the binary gender system in Europe but was not the case for indigenous populations around the world who were brutalised, moved off the lands and eliminated through genocide. This is going to require more reading on my part but it will be completed eagerly as it’s more evidence of how this system to live and breathe is a construct of power for a few white people over the rest of us all.
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 rain pours down, the temperatures drop. And we’re inside.
Miss Ella has Covid again so we self-isolate. We do our bit to keep the infection rates down even if no one else does.
Forced to stay in door could play on my mind, could make me frustrated and resentful if I let it.
What I’ve been doing is getting creative. Creatrix in Residence @ HOME is me allowing my imagination to wander while my hands are busy. Even my body as I continue to knock out my 4 miles a day of walking, indoors. It takes a whole heap longer than when outdoors. So I mix things up with a bit singing and dancing to Silk Sonic.
Things could be a lot worse. But poor Miss Ella. Just getting better after her stay in hospital and now this is just another set back. She’s taking it well as she gets creative too with video games, you tube, make up and singing.
Apart from writing a poem a day for the month of April here, I’ve also been making a ZINE a day as I’ve been accepted to present at the Edinburgh Zine Festival 2022 in May. Getting all my creations ready to share, swap and sell hopefully.
Hopefully, all will be well by the time this comes along as Miss Ella is going to be my assistant, sharing in the non- profits.