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.

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

The Beauty of Failing

Loch Lomond

Last week I attempted to walk the West Highland Way, again. And I failed again.

Around the mid point, well 52 miles in, I suffered an injury; a stress fracture in my right foot. It became too painful to continue. I was gutted.

After making the decision, I took my usual day to feel all the feels and then I got back up again. I switched this failure ( in terms of not completing the whole 96 miles) into a positive.

I walked along the byways and drovers roads and old railway tracks and had a great time being with nature. A week of forecast rain never materialised. The weather was bright and pleasant and welcome.

River Fallon

And the scenery was to die for. But I knew I couldn’t continue at the pace I was going. I had to weigh up the odds; continue to prove what? Or to stop and reduce further injury?

It also got to the point of no longer enjoying it. Because I was in pain and exhausted and feeling sorry for myself, I couldn’t enjoy the walking anymore. I couldn’t look up from the trail and breathe in the air and appreciate the view. My focus became the pain and how to get it to stop.

So I left the trail. Disappointed in myself but also proud of myself. I didn’t carry on seeking glory and jeopardising my body and the rest of my plans for the year and beyond. I took this hit of not reaching my goal in order to move through other goals easier or smoother.

I’ll not lie, I am upset about it. And had a funk about it. But at the same time, I appreciate the experience. I had such a lovely time waking up at the side of Loch Lomond with the last of the stars disappearing into a pinking sky over the glistening water. I felt blessed. And I still do feel this way to have had this opportunity of walking 52 miles from the lowlands to the Highlands of Scotland. Thank you.

Craig Royston

Rolling Off The Shelf

Gyllngvase Beach

I couldn’t resist a 10 second film when I went to the sea today.

She was roaring and powerful and intimidating.

There’s a shelf +riptide+reef. So no swimming just wave splashing and feet sinking. But it still felt good.

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.

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}.

Great North Run 2022 – Confirmation

This race has been a long time coming.

I was due to run The Great North Run in 2020. But we all know what happened then.

Then I postponed it in 2021, as we were not out of the woods in terms of a global pandemic. And they changed the route. And I had a marathon the next month.

Then here we are in 2022, and the reasons for running this race are still there and probably becoming more and more prevalent.

I’m running the Great North Run on 11 September 2022 for Mental Health Foundation.There is nothing more important, hand in hand with our physical health, than our mental health.


There have been times in my life when I was out for the count, when I was low and depressed and considering suicide. It was the support of family and friends and professionals that got me through this difficult time. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of or something to hide.

We live in such a shitty world where everything can affect our mental health and well-being. But we also live in such a beautiful world where anything is possible. If we can just dream it.

I will support the Mental Health Foundation because they support us in our times of need as well as work hard to find the ways and means to prevent mental health problems and issues. The Foundation sees its role as being to address both the knowledge gap and the implementation gap.

Over the coming months, I’ll be sharing the statistics about the UK as well as global mental health statistics, issues and problems.

Please consider supporting me on my quest to run 13.1 miles again from Newcastle upon-Tyne to South Shields by pledging as little or as much as you can afford here. Thank you.

A Hot (PINK) Mess

Visual journal 15/05

To you it might look a mess.

To you it might look like someone’s puked on the page.

To you it might feel out of whack.

To you it might make no sense.

To me it feels like progress.

Photo walk : Come with me to Marden Quarry, Cullercoats.

After Covid in February, I committed to moving my body more in March. I felt tired and sluggish and beat. So I needed to shift my energy. Fast.

One way I committed to this journey was to set myself the task of walking every day. And for some reason it had to be 4 miles a day. I think this roughly worked out as my 10,000 steps a day. Now this is moving from 0 miles to 4 miles overnight. My body wasn’t happy.

What I found soon enough was how much more energy and joy I was experiencing in my day once I got out the door and walked. I walked every where for every conceivable errand and then some days I just walked because I promised myself to do it.

March came and went into April, and I continued the walking. Some days not quite reaching 4 miles while other days far out passing it. I noticed I was walking faster and at first this worried me. I used to think the faster you walked the less you would notice. Not the case.

I noticed the faster I walked the more in tune with my body and surrounding I became. My senses were more alert, colours were brighter, scents were sharper. I was more present. I felt amazing in my body and moment.

When I think I’m not in the moment, not in my body, in my walk then I slow down and start taking photos. I’ve performed photowalks for years now and I’m so pleased to be bringing them back into my practice now.

A Photowalk is just as it says on the tin; you walk and take photos of whatever takes your interest a long the way. I see something first and then stop and then see it again as I take a photo of it. Sharing it here with you, not only brings you along on my walk but also allows me to see whatever it is again and relive the moment, re-engage with my body and memory of the time. It’s a gift that just keeps on giving.

Today, I’ve upped my mileage to 5 miles a day moving forward. Of course I ended up doing far more, over 8 miles, but that won’t happen every day. If someone had told me back in February that you’ll be out every day walking just for the hell of it, I would have laughed as I was feeling pretty rough with and after Covid. But here as I up my time outdoors, living in and through my body, I’m so pleased I made this commitment to myself.

Look out for more Photowalks as the year progresses. I just love the beauty that can be found when I’m open.