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.
We take so much for granted in our lives.
We tend forget that life itself is a gift.
A gift which we have the potential to make amazing.
We owe it to ourselves to take the time and space to become more aware of what we already have. And appreciate it.
What I’m grateful for at the moment:
1. A roof over our heads.
2. Food on our plates.
3. Our health as a family.
4. Friends to care for and be cared by.
5. Broadband to support me to create new work opportunities.
6. Pen and paper and magazines to cut up.
8. The morning sun. The morning rain.
10. My hoping heart.
Many moons ago, I went to Washington State to visit a new friend, Sarah Spaeth, who I met while picking grapes on Monteleone in Lazio, Italy. That was over 10 years Aga now and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve had some adventures in the States, over here in Scotland and also Iceland.
While I was in residence with the Jefferson Land Trust, where Sarah was the Executive Director at the time, I fell in love with Fort Walden which was just down the road from where I was staying. It’s a national park with the sea, beach and trees and a creative centre, called Centrum.
I remember Sarah talking about this centre while in Italy and how much I would love it there and to come and see. She was right, I felt right at home there. And when I took my family over there, we spent plenty of hours hanging out there. It was my dream to sometime return and do a writing retreat there, or attend their summer writing program.
The summer writing program is just like going back to college for a week. Writing workshops in the morning and afternoon and then evening readings. To be immersed in writing for a whole week, with other writers, bliss. Obviously this year, it’s had to be cancelled. So instead they’re offering a Summer Writing Intensive but virtually. The next best thing. And something I could so attend.
So I am, starting tomorrow, I’m going to writing college and going to spend the week in poetry and fiction workshops. Go to some readings in the evening, but totally live the writer’s life and I do so from the comfort of my own home. And what’s even neater is that I’ve been given a scholarship to take part for which I am so grateful.
So apologies not is you don’t see me here next week, as I’ll be soaking up the writing atmosphere and vibes from across the pond.
Since May, I’ve been sharing my writing on Medium. This is a platform I’ve tired a number of times before but for some reason the habit just didn’t stick. I now know this probably had something to do with having nothing really to say. But now I do.
I’ve been contributing to the Binderful Blog, which a small online community of women, started a few years ago, which offers classes to support women questioning their lives. Maybe shaking up the status quo from the kitchen table outwards. I’m due to create a class with Binderful but in the meantime, I’ve been writing on Medium for them.
If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve shared so far then click below to read the articles.
I started running about 8 years ago after the birth of said daughter as a means of getting rid of my pregnancy weight gain. Since then I went on to run a lot of 5ks, two 10ks, two half-marathons and three marathons. My last marathon was the London one in 2014. And it became my personal best time.
After this, I ran for the sheer fun of it but I soon fell out of love with running for one reason or another. I started training for my Great North Run in September this year once I got the okay back from the doctors about my back in January. But it’s been hit and miss.
Not with the lockdown, I’m craving the outdoors more than ever and running, putting some distance between me and home, is something I can drop into. So when my husband said he wanted to start running again I asked if he wanted company. And he was going to use our daughter as an excuse, with the schools being closed, she’s with us 24/7. But I wasn’t having it.
We started with NHS couch to 5K podcast. It’s what I used all those many year ago when I started running for the first time and it’s what I use every time I want to get back into running and build up my time and distance in a manageable way.
So it’s early days running with my peeps. But I’m enjoying it. And even if the 9 year old, Miss Ella, is complaining and feeling the pain at the moment, I think give it a few more weeks and she’ll be loving it. I know that’s how it kicks in for me.
I was talking to a dear friend, last night via FaceTime. We hadn’t connected with each other for months. Our schedules just didn’t coincide. But now, as the outside world slows down, we managed to connect and spend an hour or so catching up. With her living out in Washington State and me in the North of England, over the last ten years of our friendship, we’ve managed to stay in touch pretty well. Sometimes in person too.
We both feel that what is happening in the world now, with the pandemic is awful and worrying. But we both recognise a shift in the pace of life, that this has brought about too. Closing our doors, literally to the outside world, not going to work, not socialising with people face to face, has meant a change in behaviours. We’ve gone within and have started to appreciate all those little things that were right under our noses all along. We’ve started to experience gratitude for the lives we’ve created and are still able to enjoy.
For me, this time has given me the space to purposefully lean into my creative practice. I’m not pushing it, striving for productivity like I have in the past. And I’m not beating myself up when I don’t happen to complete my to-to list for each day. I mea, whenever have I managed to complete that never-ending to-do list? But still there’d be that voice at the end of the day berating myself for what I didn’t accomplish instead of congratulating myself on what I did do. Now I’ve taken my foot off the accelerator and it feels weird but it also feels right. I’m settling into the self-isolating with my family, and trying to take better care of myself. I’m fixing my own oxygen mask first and that feels weird but right also.
Things are not good at the moment. Especially when I do venture outside for the essentials and see the empty shelves in supermarkets. Also when people seem to not understand the concept of social distancing and still stand up on my arse as if we’re in a packed train carriage. Step away from me, man. I want to shout. Use some common sense. When I have to be out there, it soon annoys me with how some people are reacting, and my panic levels start to rise as a result. This is when I choose to walk away and find some space in nature. Walking outside is still possible and so is going into the sea. Thank goodness. Small mercies, I’ll gladly have for now. Out in nature, watching the waves, listening to the birds, seeing buds bursting on branches, my mind soon calms down, my breathing deepens, and my smile reappears.
So yes, things are not good at the moment with the Coronavirus but things could be a lot worse. And I think things, the situation and the way society operates at the moment, are going to get a lot worse before better. Here in the U.K., each day sees an increase in the number of deaths from the virus as well as the number of confirmed cases. We haven’t hit the peak yet, as we’re lagging behind such countries as Italy and Spain. And this isn’t me wishing the worst on us or anyone else. This is me being real.
Spending time catching up with my friend, was needed and beneficial for us both. Yes we caught up with what’s been happening, but we were also able to see each other. See that we’re okay and send out hopeful vibes that one day we will meet again. Who knows what the future holds. Who knows how this social isolation will end, if ever. But we can have hope and we can make the best of a bad situation. Gratitude helps immensely here, believe.
There’s been signs but I’ve chosen to not pay attention, to not listen. But now I’m taking heed and acting accordingly.
Coming down our street there was a van packed up with the sign ‘By-Safe’ splayed across it’s backside. Okay I get the message.
I pulled the Lizard card today from The Wild Unknown, Animal Spirit, oracle deck. The Lizard is sensitive to the subtle, almost like a sixth sense; hearing what is yet to be spoken, seeing what is yet to be seen.
The Lizard’s energy and essence can be quickly worn down by big crowds, lots of travel, bright lights and over stimulation. The Lizard has shown its face today to tell me it’s time to pull back, to go within, seek my inner artist and start that creative project.
As I said, I was feeling the signs. This week saw me cancelling planned events and activities in relation to my nature projects. I’d started to self-isolate and have the inclination to draw my family in close. Not just for our own safety but for other people’s safety too. How do I know that I’m not carrying the virus? It’s amazing how much one person can stop the spread of the Coronavirus by self-isolating sooner rather than later.
Usually, the belief is what can one person do? In this case a hell of a lot. I’m working from home. I’m turning inwards and listening to my soul, my inner wisdom and I’m hanging onto my creativity.
“Giving clear and consistent information to public at the right time on #coronavirusis vital. Governments’ media strategies must reflect the importance of that. This is not a run of the mill political issue. @scotgov will set out advice to the public in an orderly manner.March 15, 2020”
Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) on Twitter
Here is the U.K. there is mass panic. Panic buying. Panic spreading of misinformation. Panic induced inability to act.
Our U.K. Government doesn’t have a fucking clue and it is down to voluntary created community groups to look out for and support the vulnerable individuals in our society who might succumb to the corona virus and die.
I’m trying to keep things on an even keel and reduce the risk of catching and spreading this dangerous virus to all those I have been or come into contact with. But it’s difficult when this menace is unseen and deadly.
I’m moving towards self-isolating myself via working from home and having virtual meetings. But this is all useless if I continue to send my child to school where we all know illness can spread like wildfire.
Our Government continues to fail in taking action and issuing recommendations because it’s first priority is economics rather than human lives. It is ill-prepared to handle this pandemic and our NHS is under financed and resourced to take the ongoing and on coming strain. This is not a pessimistic mentality. This is our reality.
I send out virtual hugs and love today as I wish you to stay safe and vigilant. Look out for each other and make sure those who are vulnerable and alone are not feeling alone and that they know you are there for them. This is the time we pull together and be there for each other.
1. Her hands. I remember her hands. Calloused and worn. Working hands. Like mine. Her nails were pretty. Always had some length on them. Even if discoloured yellow. I blame the onions. Or tobacco. Her hands would take mine and squeeze them. She was there for me the squeeze said. The patting wrinkled light beige coloured hands. I’m here for you, they said.
2. I can just still catch her voice saying Sheree. It was a Geordie twang and not. It had an undertone of music. Of laughter. Of a joy for life. It was beautiful. Like she was; inside and out.
3. I haven’t forgotten her potato fritters. She made the best potato fritters. Golden discs of potato fried hot until edges crisp but centres, soft and buttery. I do make them now. In the oven. For health reasons. But they’re not the same. Nothing. No food tastes the same as she made.
4. I remember the beat of her heart. The way she’d pull me in for a cuddle. I could lay my head on her ample chest and listen to the hearty rhythm. How my arms circled around her warm plump frame and how I just melted into the moment, into her flesh. I was home and nothing else mattered.
5. I haven’t forgotten the arguments. The harsh words said. The way I dismissed her wisdom, her thoughts and feelings because I thought I had grown. That I knew it all. I’d lived in London. Had a profession. A standing. She returned to her village as a widow with two kids, needing the help of her parents. What did she know?
6. I know she ran from grief. Or is that me?
7. Grief is just love with no place to go.
8. But I remember her hands. Warm and calloused. And always giving.