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.
Today, I’m up at 6am. We return to school after half-term break, and after the school run, I have an outdoor meeting. So my time is spoken for during the day. So I get up early, to come to my desk, and write. I ‘m working on putting my priorities first for a change. And don’t get me wrong, no one puts pressure on me to put their needs and wants first. No, no one has to do that because I do it myself. It is I who thinks I should be and do everything to everyone and bend in so many different directions and ways to make this happen. And when I don’t I’m racked with guilt and think I’m a bad mother, wife, friend, human being even.
For now, I’m changing this record which has been on repeat for far too long. I’m changing it up and sticking on the record which is called, Sheree’s priorities. It’s a sound that takes some getting used to. It’s a sound I might want to turn off straight away as it’s too needy, to hesitate, too demanding, too vulnerable. But I persevere through practice. Through turning up at my desk each day, sitting my arse down and picking up that pen and facing the uncertainties, I know I’m strengthening a much neglected muscle. And it feels good to find and use those muscles I didn’t even know I had.
And this morning, the music of that priorities record, that new release, is so growing on me that I find myself tapping my feet, swaying and singing along to the sweet sweet tune of creativity.
Yesterday we took a trip to the Centre for Life in Newcastle, a Life Science Centre which was showing a whole heal of exhibitions and films about space and time travel and the night skies. We rocked up there not knowing what to expect but we weren’t disappointed. I can see how the entry fee would put people off, as it’s kind of steep, but really if you’re being savvy which we weren’t really, you could stay in there all day, take a packed lunch and get your money’s worth. As it was we were in there for nearly 5 hours and we hardly covered the place.
It’s a place where your inner kid can roam. I suggest you take some kids along with you because then you have no choice but to get down to their level and look around the experiment stations, the brain exhibitions, the play stations and the displays with wonder and curiosity.
The best part for me was sitting in the Planetarium with my head right back so I could watch the night sky to its fullest on the dome screen. The presentation on the stars and constellations and our universe was so amazing. And I just found myself, like a kid again, exclaiming ‘wow’ at every new image and cool fact. This is the second time this year that I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the night skies and I’m sure it’s not going to be my last as these happenings are working to open up a door inside me which always said I was too stupid to know anything about our universe or life beyond us. But maybe it was a case of just not giving this field of knowledge and research enough attention. It’s science right? And black girls don’t do science! Wrong!
Well I’m learning now and I’m definitely not too stupid to take it all in and run with it.
There was an old woman who lived in a little old house. The little old house had a little old garden where the little old robins enjoyed to rest. This little old woman had a very harsh winter when her little old garden was covered in snow. So much snow that the robins didn’t come to visit until the snow had almost gone. The little old woman was so sad in her little old house with her little old garden all covered in snow with no robins to sit and watch. So she had an idea.
The next time the little old woman spied a robin in her little old garden, she crept out so quiet as can be. Tip-toe, tip- toe through the snow until she was right up on this little old robin sitting on the little old bird table in her little old garden. And as quick as you like, the little old woman hit the little old robin with a little old frying pan, swept it up and into the house. Where after the little old woman stuffed the little old robin into a plump little thing. She then stuck him on her little old bird table in her little old garden so she could look upon that little old robin all year long.
It’s good when you can have meetings with other people, particularly women, and find that you are on the same page and one idea leads to the next and the next and then before you know it you have a full year planned out with activities and events.
What was good about today is that the meetings were not for personal gain but were plans to share the great outdoors with others, the less fortunate, who might not otherwise have these opportunities.
It’s a good day when you can share what you love with others.
Today, I was due back up at the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session for all around the themes of Hadrian’s Wall and the new Lost Words exhibition. Unfortunately, due to adverse weather conditions, the event has been cancelled.
Even though, I’d spent the last few days in preparation for the storytelling, which I view as time well spent not wasted, I’m grateful for the free time I’ve been gifted today. I felt as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulder and now I can relax into Sunday. And I’m not going to rush and fill this empty time with all the jobs I have piling up with the house or family or work related stuff.
What I intend to do and what I’ve been doing is to remain curious and allow myself to be intuitively guided towards what I feel I want or need to do. Okay I might have to do some dishes or we’ll be eating off our hands all day. But at the same time, I’ve been visiting my visual journal and experimenting with my resources; journalling, moving paint around, doodling, dreaming. Being creative but just enjoying the process and not really thinking about the end product.
Sometimes, I need to take the time and space to remember the benefits of my visual journalling practice, what it’s seen me through, supporting my healing and grieving, and how it supports me to remain curious about my creativity but also life, my life in general.
I was invited to the launch event of an exhibition bring the book Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane to life at the Sill this week. I’d seen the book and have admired the images, but I hadn’t spent much time with the text.
The premise is that generations of children are growing up not knowing the names of things in nature, or being able to recognise them. That this knowledge has slipped out of existence and this book was created as a way of recapturing the magic, bringing these lost words back to life. Such words and natural living things as bramble, conker and fern.
I had the most enjoyable evening talking to fellow visitors as well as hearing some of the spells within the book being read aloud. It was inspiring so much so that I intended to link into the idea of lost words, and lost worlds as I return this weekend to the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session about the multicultural communities from ether past who lived and worked around Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.
Fern’s first form is furled,
Each frond fast as a fiddle-head.
Reach, roll and unfold follows.
Now fern is fully fanned.
Today’s objective was one thing and one thing only; to walk. I’ve been feeling as if I’m standing at the edge of a deep black hole and that my footing was slipping. I know I’ve been doing too much lately and have been feeling the burn. So I know where the feelings are coming from but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with or hold at bay.
So I made a promise to myself today to put myself first. And walking was part of my self-care objective. Walking for miles is a good way to root me back into my body, back into my present and out of my head and worries and that black hole.
Over 10000, 10k and 1000 calories later, I also made the decision of taking another social media hiatus for February. I’ll continue with my #100daysofblogging here because I’ve made a commitment to myself. However, I need to spend some quality time alone with my own thoughts and dreams and as usual social media has become a distraction. I’m also feel as if I’m falling into that comparison trap again and when that starts to happen I know it’s time to depart.
So I’ve created a creative residency for the month of February at home. I’m dedicating the next month to following my creativity on whatever journey she wants to take me.
So the last day of January saw me listening within and paying attention and acting on what I felt. And I already feel so much better for it.
Of course this website is going to receive the benefit of a concentrated desire to share. Let’s see what await us!
I started 2020 off by starting an online course with Creative Non-Fiction called Writing the Lyric Essay: When Poetry & Nonfiction Play. It’s five weeks of writing time on my personal essays and I’m enjoying reading a range of new writers as well as reacquainting myself with ones of old.
Last week was looking at the lyric essay in relation to e prose poem. I was introduced to the weird and wonderful work of Charles Simic and the early work of Toi Derricotte. It was a lovely week of red and writing and the words just seemed to flow. Here I share a piece with you called The Mountain.
We climb in the rising heat
and I feel heavy.
Rucksack clinging around
my waist like a troll,
I’m at the end of the line, always, as if I need the others, fitter and whiter than me, to pull me up the steep pass.
I tell myself, I’m taking my time to savour the moment, enjoy the view as my breath escapes like a monoprint; white lake
surrounded by shades of grey; flint, slate, gun-metal to charcoal.
The majestic mountain.
Because I’m afraid to love,
I keep my wetsuit on
and enter on foal legs
the clearest blue lake
known locally as bottomless
as well as home to a water dragon. The dragon does not scare me.