Hello and welcome. Displayed here are a selection of artworks, photographs, mixed-media and collages created by Sheree Angela Matthews; artist + teacher + creativity enthusiast. Visit the store to find out how to buy.
I love this time of year. Autumn is my birth season and it’s when I shine. There’s that ‘back-to-school’ feeling accompanied by the change in energy and light. There’s a bubbling of anticipation as the landscape is on the turn. Transformation is possible.
I lean into the season by getting outside into nature as much as possible. Usually when the schools go back , we can enjoy a few weeks of sunshine, a late summer roll out of heat before the temperatures drop.
September is also a good month also to enjoy sea swimming as this is as warm as it’s going to get, The North Sea, after storing some of the summer’s warmth. The water can be so clear sometimes, calm and still.
This transitional season is beautiful because where there is life there is also decay and death. The late blooming flowers still have some joy to give. At the same time as the berries are bursting out of brambles and bushes. Leaves begin to turn colour, to collect in brown bundles. A time to harvest those seeds we planted in spring. A time to count our blessings and give thanks.
I’ve started again. I think it happened a couple of weeks ago now. But I’ve started walking out and searching for the colour purple again. I first started this last year during lockdown, when I would take a daily walk, but walk with intention. My intention was to search out purple, usually purple flowers, pause give thanks and snap a photo.
As Alice Walker write in The Color Purple “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
Walking is a meditation. Like breathing. When I walk my footsteps fall into a rhythm with my breathing. I always feel better after a walk. During the troubling times of the Coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprisings around the world, I’ve been searching for purple, more often than not. Does that mean I’m been looking for God? Looking for the reason maybe for all this suffering? But maybe there’s isn’t any reasoning for everything that’s happening. Maybe it’s just a case that this is how things are in the natural scheme of things. How it’s always has been and will be? That’s there’s meanness in the world and suffering and pain as well as beauty.
As more and more in society reopens after lockdown, and more and more people are making demands on my time and attention, I’ve slipped back into walking and searching for purple. And I think this is not to just fill my creative pot with joy, but also to makes sure I keep moving through this world at my own pace. Slowly. And when I lean into taking things slowly, doing things at my own pace, I know I’m in control of everything that is happening in my life.
It’s me taking back me power. And I think that’s what purple symbolises for me. As a colour, for centuries it has been associated with power. Not just regal power, but also because it was so expensive to make, purple was only worn by the select few, the echelons of society.
To be empowered from the inside out is real power for me. Power isn’t how much money or status you have in society. For me, it’s how much you value your own worth, protect your boundaries, lean into what makes you feel happy, what brings you joy and continue to relight your creative fire.
It’s nearly been a couple of weeks now since we, Olwen Wilson and myself, completed facilitating our online visual journaling retreat called Honouring Our Wholeness. For three sessions spread over six weeks, we created space for a self-care visual journaling retreat for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour.
This was a unique and well-needed safe space for us to come together and just be. To let down our loads and know that we weren’t going to be judged but held. It was such a nourishing and nurturing space that without it, I feel a bit remiss. This space came along at the right time when I needed to take things slow and lean back into my visual journaling practice. What I need now is to remember what I learned from this experience and continue the journey; this healing journey I’ve been on for over six years now.
Six years ago, I started my visual journaling practice through a virtual course run by Lisa Sonora called Dreaming on Paper, at that point. It came into my life when I needed to explore my voice. When I needed time and space to get in touch, probably for the first time, with my true self. It provided me with an anchor when everything around me was disappearing, had been destroyed. Visual journaling kept me afloat, when I could have easily drown.
These are the things I need to remember when I do get a bit lost because of outside demands, or when I’m being far too critical on my own arse. Self-compassion. self-care and self-love are waiting for me when I open my journal and just play. Just try. Just turn up for me.
It was such an honour to be gather with these beautiful and generous people during Honouring Our Wholeness because that’s what we did for each other and ourselves, we showed up and offered ourselves compassion, care, grace and love.
“In my longing for depth I have been re-rooting in the earth, in myself and my creativity, in my community, in my spiritual practices, honing in on work that is not only meaningful but feels joyful, listening with less and less judgment to the ideas and efforts of others, having visions that are long term.” Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.
‘i said to trauma, “i am so much more than you.” ‘ – Kai Chen’s Thom, I Hope We Choose Love
The final prompt last night in Honouring Our Wholeness with @olwen.wilson had us wondering about what seeds we could plant if we consider how we are so much more than our trauma. This is what I created. ‘Discovering New Landscapes.’ Trauma is a very familiar territory for me. I’ve been carrying around these fragmented pieces of land in my body for years ever since I was 9 years old and my dad died of leukaemia. Then my sister died. Then my mum died. One traumatic experience after another builds up layers of scar tissue, thick and hardening, from the bones out. Me thinking I can protect myself from pain hiding within the rolls of fat around my body. My whole body is a landscape of accumulated pain, suffering, abuse, self-abuse, rejection, hate and cruelty. And yet, last night in this gathering of women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, I traced golden lines around my trauma. I remembered my mother and her body, like the pomegranate, full of seeds, but who’s garnet juice ran out as she miscarried after having me, which reminded me of my miscarriage before Miss Ella came along. But from these seeds within and without, new life, new power can be nurtured and brought to fruition. New landscapes of grasses and wild flowers can be tended. In time. In space. In body and mind and soul.
The Hunter is a predator and is always on the hunt. To fail, and not bring back the prey, is not part of their makeup.
The Hunter will journey far and wide seeking what her heart is calling her to seek. Skilful, decisive and focused when this card appears, there is an activation of the great creatures of the world such as the lion, the shark and my favourite the wolf.
When this question appears, you have to ask yourself three questions: What am I hunting or seeking? Why am I seeking this? Is the weapon of choice I’ve chosen needed for the task at hand?
In response to these questions I had to be honest and really look within. Journaling around them my answers become clearer.
I’m seeking healing justice. I’m not sure what that is or what it entails but this is the feeling and focus that came through. I know to heal is everything and this is not just on a personal basis. I know when I work through my trauma, I’ll be in a better position to show up for others, to support others in their healing journeys. That’s the reason why I seek healing justice for me and my community.
My weapon of choice is a pen, my creativity, but it come powered up the connection I forge, daily for myself and others, with nature. I believe that once we heal and re-connect with Mother Nature, we are beginning to heal and get back to our true selves who is and always will be one with nature.
The Crone was the first card I pulled for the theme of my year, 2021. I thought this card was very apt as I’m moving towards my 50th birthday on October, as well as this card being the thirteenth in the Wild Unknown Archetype deck. This is my number. So I feel that The Crone has a wealth of wisdom to impart upon me this year and beyond.
The Crone is the third figure in the triple goddess path, and she has been around long enough to have seen it all. She has reached the point of rejecting dualities in life and accepts it all, the beauty with the suffering, black with white.
Often present with crows, a symbol of wisdom as well as death, the Crone gives and takes life, using all energies to reveal hidden knowledge. The Crone resides in us all but is often feared because of her power.
I accept whatever she will bring this year, and look forward to deepening my relationship with her rich and unapologetic magic.
I see The Crone’s appearance now as a reinforcement of the decisions that I’ve already made. I don’t have time for any superficial and petty discussions or relationships. I feel in order to heal myself, that I need to go deeper, deeper within even if this means I travel alone.
This going deeper will be supported by further study into such goddesses as Dhumavati, Hecate, Baba Yaga and Lilith.