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.
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
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.
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.
Other events offered as an alternative to the Future Landscape Programme that will run at the same tine at COP26 in Glasgow, will provide diverse voices to the environmental and conservation movement and makes those all important links between the local and global in terms of the climate crisis.
I’ll be hosting a conversation with Sarah Hussain and Serayna Solanki
Through their projects and research, both Sarah Hussain and Serayna Solanki are providing spaces for marginalised communities and people of colour to engage with nature as a means of changing the narrative around who has a say in the Climate Change Movement. They are working within education and research, community and organisational partnerships, to create and highlight dialogue around climate justice through personal and community storytelling.
Join me , as host again, with Jo Clement and Zakiya McKenzie for a reading and discussion of literature which explores place, environment, belonging and identity as both writers read from and talk about their recent collections.
Grace Hull created Green Grace Soul to share her journey to living sustainably in a holistic way. Grace attempts to balance the food she eats, the products she uses and the things she buys with the most beneficial outcomes for her health, the health of the planet, and the others living on it.
Sustainable living and Climate Change activism have many faces, and by centring holistic sustainability Grace engages with intersectionality and the social and historical context of climate change through the reflections of her journey that she shares on her website, podcast and DIY projects.
This will be a keynote lecture followed by a Q and A.
A few weeks ago, when I was in the thick of my separation and wondering how I was going to get through the rest of 2020, I made a commitment to myself to designate October as a creative retreat month. I’m not going anywhere, but I am protecting my time to retreat from the world and outside commitments in order to focus on my creative practice.
Due to circumstances, I’ve allowed things to get lost in transition. Focusing on what brings me joy, like reading and writing and creating haven’t been top of my list for ages, it feels. So protecting October, my favourite month of the year, my birth month, as time and space to re-engage with my creative projects and start some new ones felt right for me.
Only a few days into October, and I was inspired in a poetry workshop to attempt #thesealychallenge. This challenge is to read thirty-one poetry books or chapbooks in the thirty-one days of August. I know it’s October but I’m coming late to the party. But I feel this is just what I need to relight my fire, put pen to paper and write poetry.
So far this month, I’ve read 5 poetry collections and chapbooks. What I’m doing while reading is also collecting words, single words which I like the sound of, or I find are being used in new and usual ways. Words that stir my interest and create a reaction.
What this reading is doing is inspiring me to write again. So from just reading other people’s work, immersing myself in the world of poetry again, I’ve created 6 new poems. So I’m going all the way this time, and trying for 31 poems by the end of the month; 31 poems in 31 days.
This has already gotten me through a block, a fear that was starting to take hold of me that I might be only able to write while in crisis, while in an unhappy state. But by producing something over the last few days, I’ve now put that fear to rest. I’m back, reading and writing, writing and reading.