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

Embracing the Green

Visual Journal 29/05

I was brought up to believe that the colour green was unlucky. Where could such nonsense come from when Mother Earth is partly green?

The belief, for a while, kept me in my place. Kept me is a limited space almost scared of the colour green.

I believe this superstition stopped me enjoying a closer relationship with nature, from a young age. There was a fear. But also a desire not to disappoint my family further by embracing the colour.

I’m not sure when I started to think for myself and embrace the green. But I know I haven’t looked back.

I’m loving the green.

Coming to an end of the journey

Visual Journaling Practice May 2022

There are only a couple pages left in this altered book journal of May.

The month seems to have gone by fast. I know I’ll complete this journal tomorrow.

I’m ready to move onto a bigger journal now. I can feel it. It’s my intuition calling for more space I feel.

I’ve already started prepping some pages in an A4 journal with paper that’s like newsprint paper. An unfinished kind of feel, off-white, rough and a bit shiny at the same time. It reminds me of the large sheets of paper the teachers used to put down to protect the tables before we got out the paints for art lessons/ play.

Already I’m envisioning what the pages within this journal will feel like when I’m working on them and when I finish a spread.

This is what happens really. Having one foot in my current journal honouring the process. And one foot in the next journal, shifting energies, feeling the pull and excitement of the open pages ahead. Getting ready for the next journey and where it will lead.

There’s no doubt when I finish one journal that there will be the next. A next one. This isn’t something that I can end if I even wanted to.

Visual Journaling is my life. It keeps me rooted in my life, the ups and downs, the backwards and forwards. Where ever it may lead, visual journaling is there holding my hand, guiding me at the same time as catching me when I fall.

And fall I will. And this might be when I feel the need to give up the most but this might be also when I need this practice the most.

I’ve spent this past month, opening up my journaling pages to this space in the hope of inspiring others; for you to take up the practice. At the same time as allowing myself the space to explore what makes this practice tick. The attempt to explore/ unearth/ pin down where it’s magic lies.

Of course, I’ve not achieved this. I’ve just thrown up more questions than answers. But in all honesty, I don’t know if I want to fully comprehend it’s magic. I’m not sure I really want to unravel the mystery around visual journaling, around creativity itself.

As where would the fun be in that? Or the point? As would it help me complete it better? Would it help me achieve more?To succeed?

I don’t practice visual journaling to succeed. To become better at it. To crack the code and achieve more.

I practice visual journaling because it makes me feel (better).

I practice visual journal because it supports me being me. {BE}.

I practice visual journal because it supports me to {BE}.

The Long Journey To Claiming Books

I was brought up to treat books as sacred. They were a source of knowledge. You get your education and you’d have choices in life. You’d move on in the world. Have a better life than your parents before you.

Books were the gateway into this Paradise.

Each week, we would walk into town from our maisonette, along the busy dual carriageway. Once in town, we’d go to the market, to the one book stall and pick out a book. They were the tradition fairy tales with pictures and text.

If not them, then Enid Blyton books. For some reason, I felt the importance of books and the connection of them to my dad. He’d read us bedtime stories and I’d just love to be in his presence then. As he was softer and loving. Different from the angry man he was at all other times.

For some reason, who knows what goes through a child’s mind, I took to doodling in one of these fairy tale books. I want to say it was Snow White, but I could wrong.

A whole heap of scribbles and doodles took over the pages of this book. Why use the book when I had plenty of blank white paper? As I said who knows what goes through a child’s mind.

I just know that my father found the book and shouted at me with rage. And beat me. I’d done something wrong. I’d ruined the book. I’d ruined my chances of getting on in the world. I’d gone against the unwritten rule( or was a spoken one?) around how to respect books.

Older now, I hunt for books. I buy my own books. I read then. Some I don’t. Some I keep or give away. And some I purposefully, consciously make the decision to repurpose. Reclaim them.

I tear out pages and I cut these up. I smear paint on the pages left in the book. I stick images in them, tape, stickers. And yes I write in them. I write out my hopes and fears. My desires and dreams. My memories and traumas.

I think I was brought up right. To treat books as sacred. But it’s what you do with those books that count, I think. And a book has multiple uses/ purposes. I think. Multiple ways and means of instilling knowledge and opportunities and freedom.

It’s been a long journey for me to get to this point of choices. But I claim them all.

In Bed with Intuition

Nothing beats journaling in bed. Still half-asleep but fresh coffee bringing me around. And the day ahead. Expanding or constructing as I see fit.

I come to the page and allow my mood to guide me. What page to put pen to or image or colour.

It’s my intuition who leads the way, gently. Before my intuition was dead and gone. Repressed and forgotten. But slowly, through trust and patience my intuition is very much in the driving seat these days.

And I like it this way. She never sees me wrong but keeps me safe, creative and present.

Visual Journaling 24/05