Pause

I was talking to a dear friend, last night via FaceTime. We hadn’t connected with each other for months. Our schedules just didn’t coincide. But now, as the outside world slows down, we managed to connect and spend an hour or so catching up. With her living out in Washington State and me in the North of England, over the last ten years of our friendship, we’ve managed to stay in touch pretty well. Sometimes in person too.

We both feel that what is happening in the world now, with the pandemic is awful and worrying. But we both recognise a shift in the pace of life, that this has brought about too. Closing our doors, literally to the outside world, not going to work, not socialising with people face to face, has meant a change in behaviours. We’ve gone within and have started to appreciate all those little things that were right under our noses all along. We’ve started to experience gratitude for the lives we’ve created and are still able to enjoy.

For me, this time has given me the space to purposefully lean into my creative practice. I’m not pushing it, striving for productivity like I have in the past. And I’m not beating myself up when I don’t happen to complete my to-to list for each day. I mea, whenever have I managed to complete that never-ending to-do list? But still there’d be that voice at the end of the day berating myself for what I didn’t accomplish instead of congratulating myself on what I did do. Now I’ve taken my foot off the accelerator and it feels weird but it also feels right. I’m settling into the self-isolating with my family, and trying to take better care of myself. I’m fixing my own oxygen mask first and that feels weird but right also.

Things are not good at the moment. Especially when I do venture outside for the essentials and see the empty shelves in supermarkets. Also when people seem to not understand the concept of social distancing and still stand up on my arse as if we’re in a packed train carriage. Step away from me, man. I want to shout. Use some common sense. When I have to be out there, it soon annoys me with how some people are reacting, and my panic levels start to rise as a result. This is when I choose to walk away and find some space in nature. Walking outside is still possible and so is going into the sea. Thank goodness. Small mercies, I’ll gladly have for now. Out in nature, watching the waves, listening to the birds, seeing buds bursting on branches, my mind soon calms down, my breathing deepens, and my smile reappears.

So yes, things are not good at the moment with the Coronavirus but things could be a lot worse. And I think things, the situation and the way society operates at the moment, are going to get a lot worse before better. Here in the U.K., each day sees an increase in the number of deaths from the virus as well as the number of confirmed cases. We haven’t hit the peak yet, as we’re lagging behind such countries as Italy and Spain. And this isn’t me wishing the worst on us or anyone else. This is me being real.

Spending time catching up with my friend, was needed and beneficial for us both. Yes we caught up with what’s been happening, but we were also able to see each other. See that we’re okay and send out hopeful vibes that one day we will meet again. Who knows what the future holds. Who knows how this social isolation will end, if ever. But we can have hope and we can make the best of a bad situation. Gratitude helps immensely here, believe.

The Creative Body

For the past few weeks, I’ve been itching to come to the canvas. To crack open the paints and create the images that have been streaming through my head usually when I put my head down to sleep. But in all honesty, I’ve been too mentally and emotionally exhausted to pick the paintbrush up.

Then I cut myself some slack and said to myself, you don’t have to get the paints out, just pick up a pencil or pen and draw something. So I did. And after the pencils came the charcoal and then the chalks and oil pastels and ink. Each stroke of line moved onto another and another medium to pick up and use. And before I knew it I’d created a body; a black woman’s body.

I’m now itching to do more. So the black women’s faces and bodies, one of my 100 day projects from 2019 are coming back for the official #The100dayproject which starts on 7th April till 15th July 2020.

To support me in this task, I’ve also signed up to Connie Solera’s Painting the Feminine again, which is always a rich space to create images from daily. Looking forward to exploring where these black women want to take me this year. Stay tuned.

The Goddess is back out, inside

She sits on my desk, in the spare room. My makeshift study/ studio/ freedom space. She’s a constant. A talisman. A charm. I sit sometimes when inspiration is lacking and just watch her as if waiting for her to move, to say something. But in all honesty, she doesn’t have to say anything as she is always communicating to me, with me, as she is inside me.

She is the voice of wisdom. She is my intuition. She is the quiet whisper, sometimes scream, that guides me along this path still. The small nudges and major cramps that emanate from my gut when I know something just doesn’t feel right. When I know a difficult decision, usually the right one, has to be taken. Now.

She sang out to me these past few days, singing, Lean into me, take me out again into the landscape of your home. You may be self-isolating, but let me help you look upon your home as a playground. As a space full of potential and inspiration. Let me help you make the best of a situation.

Here take my hand and I will show you the way.

Black British Art – 001 – Sonia Boyce OBE

This has been a long time coming. I first mentioned this series here.

{Sonia Boyce, She Aint Holding Them Up, She’s Holding On (Some English Rose) (1986), Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Photograph: © Sonia Boyce. All rights reserved. DACS 2013}

Sonia Boyce, OBE, born 1962 in London of Afro-Caribbean descent has been vocal in championing Black British Art since art college. She has been at the forefront of changing the perceptions of British art, shifting the focus and belief away from whiteness towards multiculturalism being one of the first Black British women artists to be exhibited in Britain.

Frequently, using her art, be that photography, collage, film, prints, drawings, installations and sound, to explore themes of race and gender, Sonia Boyce takes the time and space to represent her experiences of being a black woman living and working in Britain.

Elected to the Royal Academy in 2016, in 1988, she became the first British-based black artist to have a show at the Whitechapel Gallery. She is currently a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London.

I’m attracted to Boyce’s work because I can see myself within it. Far too often, I look at British art and see beauty personified in white flesh, female and slim. It’s demoralising as well as destructive to my psyche to not see myself reflected. With Boyce’s work, I see my struggles as well as my beauty and joys. I can relate and for this I am grateful as well as admire Sonia Boyce greatly.

Between Landscapes

Peel Crags

The walk is blustery. A chill sets in. The stone wall from centuries past worn into smooth layers, slips and trips around memories.

She breaths deep and releases aeons of pain. Her body relaxes into the currents. And with arms wide, she lets go. Her shadow is a moving dark mass across the landscape.

Her heart, the energetic space of unconditional love beats for all, pumping the blood of life throughout and between this landscape and hers.

Rekindling the Spark

Today, I’m 60 posts into my #100daysofblogging here on my website. I think the first two months of the year have flown by. As we look towards Spring, I feel hopeful that I will fulfil this challenge, I feel hopeful that I’m learning so much from the journey.

During these 60 days, I’ll not lie, I’ve lost the spark, the creative spark from time to time. Those days when I can’t be bothered to come here. Those days when I’m tired or busy or just can’t face the blank screen. But making this commitment to myself has brought me back daily.

The spark is rekindled by remembering my purpose and passion. As the cheetah above signifies. Sometimes I just need to stop and check in with myself and check that I’m doing something for the right reasons. For something true to me.

I took upon this challenge for myself because I wanted a means to keep in touch with my creativity. I believe that action breeds action. Touching the bubble keeps the bubble afloat and important and in focus. Blogging helps me keep writing here and elsewhere.

The spark is rekindled by turning up. Do something. Do anything. Move forward. One word at a time. One foot in front is another. But don’t give up. The spark is rekindled by the feelings I experience when I know I showed up for me once again. It makes me smile. And Lord, do I like smiling.

Prayer to Yemoja

Yemoja,

Goddess of the sea, hear my plea.

As the rivers runs from your breasts , straight to the sea,

let your saltwaters wash over me.

Cleanse me to the soul and nurture me

so all my ill-feelings and sorrows and woes are taken

deep out into the heart of the ocean and disappear.

Hear me when I send out love for you,

my respect and grace and thanks for all that you do

for me, for women and for children.

I know you and you know me

and hear me when I honour your power, your grace

and your generosity.

Queen of the deep blue sea, I wish you only life and love and light

as when I come to you with my heart open

you make whole what is incomplete in me.

Broken Wing

Walking back from the woods, I find you, a couple of spruce pine cones, squashed, into shapes that reminds me of a broken wing; feathers bent back at an awkward angle, tawny like an eagle or an owl.

My breath catches at the thought of death and destruction, of an imaginary bird, landlocked without the aid of one wing.

My heart somersaults at such a striking thought that’s followed quickly upon by feelings of blame lying at our feet.

A little old house

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.

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