I Want To Make Things …

“I want to make things that are beautiful, seductive, formally challenging and culturally meaningful… I‘m also committed to radical social change… Any form of human injustice moves me deeply… the battle against all forms of oppression keeps me focused.”

Carrie Mae Weems

I’ve just sent out the December Studio Notes. I feel it was an epiphany moment for myself. It happened during the process of writing the newsletter that I realised what’s wrong with me. Why I’m experiencing a bit of a funk. And I’m not fighting it either. I’m allowing myself to feel all the feels because that’s what being human is about but also through the process I learn stuff. True.

I’m experiencing a funk at the moment because I’m exhausted. Bone-tired. I thought I’ve been looking after myself and resting when needed etc. However, what I realised today is that it’s not just the physical tiredness I’m experiencing after a busy November of lectures, presentations and workshops. Nah man! I’m also emotionally and psychologically tired because of the type of practice I’ve been doing lately. It’s been focused around agitating, pushing back against the system, white supremacy culture, through anti-racism teaching, anti-blackness rebellions, and holding space for difficult conversations where my blackness is totally exposed. My vulnerabilities have been out there. I realise I’ve experienced re-trigging of trauma and oppressions. And it’s tiring. The work has to be done but back to back gigs of this kind of work is exhausting and at times soul destroying even though I know I’m doing good work at the same time as protecting myself.

But obviously not well enough.

It was already going to happen, but this epiphany has just reinforced my decision to hibernate this winter. To go within and rest and {BE}. I want to fill my pot with readings, books I’m been wanting to read for ages. Writings, my own, for pleasure and seeking beauty within nature and artworks. I’m going back to the beginning in terms of craft and creativity and embracing everything with curiosity and wonder. I’m centring me.

Let me say the again, I’m centring me.

Taking my inspiration from AfroFuturism, I’m centring me and speculating about the future of Blackness. I’m adding my fuel and energy, though rest first and foremost, to me and my creativity. I’m allowing myself the time and space to go with my flow and letting my practice speak for itself.

The message hasn’t changed that we need to burn down white supremacy culture; that we need a revolution. But the delivery will change. I’m using my voice to seduce my audience through my practice.

This isn’t a new thing for me, but it is in the sense of no longer being prepared to do the singing and dancing routine of making white people comfortable around race. I’m realised that a lot of people think that’s it, that’s doing the work for them. Listening to me talk or present or coming along to a workshop, they think that their task is done. Done and dusted, move on.

I want the thorns, the pricks to the conscious and hearts to last long after my disappearance from their view. I want the truths I’ve whispered or shouted into their ears to riddle them with uncomfortableness. If their eyes have been opened to the state of the world, to the system created to keep whiteness superior, then I want them to stay open. That they have no choice but to keep their eyes open and so do something about it. Like my lived experience.

My practice can do this, if I give it the time and space to grow and blossom and stick like the barbed sticky burrs from the Pirri Pirr shrubby plant that carries warning signs on Holy Island. These burrs stick and spread, causing a problem which is expensive and time-consuming to eradicated.

As the Carrie Mae Weems’ quote echoes, I want to make things that are beautiful and centre Blackwomen in all our glory for us, not any white gazer saviour, but for us, for myself.

Defining My Focus – Trace Mentorship

Portfolio Review Sample, October 2022

I’m merging myself, self-portraiture, with nature. Self assimilated with nature. I’m exploring my connection with nature through photography( for now!).

I’m exploring the environment and the visibility of Blackwomen within the landscape. Using the photographic image to tell a story. In the process reclaiming the narrative of Blackwomen and nature and photography.

I’m exploring the Blackwoman’s space and visibility in love and in relationship with nature. My audience is the Blackwoman. I want her to enter the space I create through my practice and recognise herself there. I want her feel that she belongs, feel the joy and all the lushness created in that space.

This will be a multidisciplinary experience. This will be a celebration of mixness, hybridity and our bodies in love with nature.

Trace Mentorship Update

Portfolio Review Sample, October 2022

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.

Archive: a Country Journal of a Blackwoman

A Visual Journal Spread from The Country Journal of a Blackwoman (Northumberland), archive

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

Let’s Start with a Poem

Extract from my recent presentation for the Women and Wetlands Panel Discussion

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.

Women and Wetlands

Last night I was part of a panel discussion which tackled the subject of women and wetlands.

Crag Lough, seen from Peel Crags, Hadrian’s Wall

I was asked by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett at Northumbria University to be part of this event and share my work around my residence at Northumberland National Park and my explorations of peat bogs.

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.

I share an extract of my presentation here.

“Femme Noire” de Léopold Sédar Senghor / “Black Woman” by Léopold Sédar Senghor

Léopold Sédar Senghor I would like to share with you this poem of the late president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor. This poem is an ode to the…

“Femme Noire” de Léopold Sédar Senghor / “Black Woman” by Léopold Sédar Senghor

I reblog this post African Heritage here as a marker. As a tag. As a note to follow up in conjunction with a project/commission I’m working on. All will become clear when I create a new project page within my portfolio.

But for now, enjoy this beautiful poem from Léopold Sédar Senghor, which speaks of the Black Woman which can also be read as the country, Senegal. Enjoy. More details coming soon.

In Honour of Slow ( a quiet protest)

Patreon Page Facelift

I’m Creatrix: she who makes.

”The speed at which we do something – anything – changes our experience of it.”
The Tyranny of Email, John Freeman

Over the last few years, I’m been practicing ::SLOW:: within my creative work, homelife, movements, relationships, thoughts and feelings. I’ve been turning away from the speed of 21st century society and the urgency of others to embrace my own pace.

This pace is ::SLOW:: which is not laziness or tardiness but is all about embracing balance, calm and sinking deeper into the creative process.

When we slow down and get off the carousel of productivity, perfection and quantity there is #radicaljoy to be experienced. There is a less is more mindset. There are richer moments of attention and awareness and connection. There is quality over quantity.

I’m Creatrix: she who makes with her hands, heart and soul.

My practice manifests through poetry, storytelling, image, walking, zine-making, mending and stitching, and the unfolding histories of black people. I engage audiences around black women’s voices and bodies, black feminism, ecology, trauma and memory, nature and connection, anti-racism, healing and joy.

I’m working within the system to challenge White Supremacy Culture and all it’s many guises. Dismantle and destroy. ::SLOW:: by it’s very nature is a quiet protest against this system of brainwashing and oppression and destruction.
At the same time, I’m re-centre-ing myself and creating outside the system. I’m exploring my own ways of working with me at the centre. Not marginalised and never minoritised. Doing my own thing on my own terms. I’m becoming whole through taking back my power and refusing to jump to other peoples demands, expectations and perceptions.

The underlining principle of this revolution is the practice of ::SLOW::

The ‘Slow Movement’ leans into the pleasures that are to be enjoyed by slowing down the process of everything. This connects me to my true nature as well as nature herself along with sustainability, simplicity, reflection and my rich multicultural ancestral traditions, rituals and practices.
Slowing the pace of how I live my life and create my life in the process is taking/ making a deliberate decision to do so. It’s a philosophy which embraces the local and seasonal rhythms and leaves room for and values thinking and feeling time. As well as REST.

::SLOW:: celebrates the process of bringing about work which has reflection at it’s heart and the time it takes to develop and nurture the necessary skills to create. There is being present throughout the journey and recognition of the becoming all along the path.

Funds from Patreon will go toward supporting – this quiet revolution of the practice of ::SLOW::

Your support is helping me to stick two figures up at the establishment, stating that there is another way of being.
We’ve all experienced it during the last two years of a global pandemic.

It has been shown that capitalism can be brought to a standstill and life can be lived at a slower pace. That we can connect with ourselves, each other and nature on a deeper level. Why can’t this be the ‘new normal’ instead of reverting back to the old ways of working and producing and exploiting?
Your support will help me to continue to embrace the practice of ::SLOW:: as I bring into the world my creations through word, text, fabric, film, audio and movement.

What you get for supporting this quiet revolution is a shining example of someone who is working on her own terms to bring about changes within herself and everyone else she serves and touches.

You get to share in the musings, and happenings, the breakthroughs and the heartbreak. I’ll be sharing my creations and developments here along with the resources and readings I’ll be exploring to lean into the practice of ::SLOW::

I hope with that you are inspired to take a stand against White Supremacy Culture in your own small and slow ways. As you have the power, we all have the power in our own way, to make a difference, to bring about changes in our lives and the lives of others.
And it starts with ourselves, with who we choose be, as we all have a choice.

I’m here now, sharing who I be with you.
Thank you for being here.

“The Slow philosophy can be summed up in a single word: balance […] Seek to live at what the musicians call the tempo guisto – the right speed […] Savouring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.” In Praise of Slow, Carl Honoré