A Week of Rain is Forecast

Starting off Sunday next week, I plan to walk the West Highland Way, a well signposted trail from just north of Glasgow, Milngavie to the Highlands of Scotland, Fort William.

I tried to walk this trail about 8 years ago but failed at the mid point due to sickness. So this time, I plan to complete it by any means necessary. If that means someone else carries my bag with camping gear from one stop to the next then so be it. I’m not too proud to accept help.

But I’ve just checked the weather for next week. And apart from a sun shine sign on Sunday, the rest of the week is 50-60% rain each day. Every day until the following weekend.

Now I could let this put a dampener on the whole walk, pun intended. Or I could just carry on as I have been carrying on, full of excitement with a genuine positive mindset to complete the miles but to enjoy the process.

I’m going into this week of walking, shortest day 10 miles – longest day 21 miles, coming off the back of some good learning experiences which I want to bring to bear in this next challenge.

The first is my 100 days of practice to complete my commission for the BALTIC Hinterlands exhibition due to go live 22 October. I didn’t allow myself to get too far into my head, stress and worry about what I was creating. Instead, I really enjoyed the process of showing up each day and seeing what came out of it. I totally enjoyed the process and had fun.

The second is my recent completion of the Great North Run. I went into this event off the back of very little training and with the simple mission of completing the 13.1 miles by any means necessary. But I didn’t look upon it as something I had to get through, grin and bear it. No. I went into this endurance event with a healthy positive mental attitude. I wanted to enjoy the day. Get around with a smile on my face, really soaking up the atmosphere of the day.

These two learning experiences I will bring to my West Highland Way challenge. So it says it’s going to be rain for the whole week. I’m going to get wet. I’ll expect to get wet. No surprises then. So the flip side is when I see the sun, or glimpse a patch of blue sky, I’m going to feel gratitude and it’s going to put a spring in my step.

I’m prepared for the rain but if I get sunshine I’ll take it with a smile. I’m not going to cancel this trip I’ve been planning for months because of a spot of wetness. I’m going to get wet as I plan to get into the lochs along the way. I’m planning to take each mile as it comes and enjoy the journey. Rain or shine. I’m doing it.

Yes I’ll get wet. Yes I’ll be cold. Yes I might not dry out all week. But I’ll be out in the Scottish landscape soaking it all up.

Would I like more sunshine? Of course I would. Would I like to be stuck inside, head buried into a computer screen working for the man? Hell no. Give me a week of walking in the rain from the Lowlands to the Highlands of Scotland and I will gladly take it with a smile on my face.

When I took up a door to door sales jobwhile at University in London for extra cash, rain was sold to us sale reps. as “liquid sunshine”. I’m going to remember that as I trek through the miles.

Tune in and see how I get on next week.

In The Thick Of It

BALTIC commission process journal

“The most effective way to do it is to do it.”

Toni Cade Bambara

I set myself the task of touching the Hinterlands commission every day for the next 100 days from the beginning of July. And on the whole, I have succeeded so far in this task. Day 23 of July and I’ll be honest, this commission is filling my waking and sleeping hours, as I agonise over how to bring my ideas and concepts to fruition. How to communicate what I think, or feel or see to others. How to make that connection of understanding, empathy and solidarity when exploring the Black woman’s body with/in nature.

This is not an easy task. And I think I’ve made the task more difficult for myself by trying to incorporate multiple and diverse art form into the brief. It’s that same old story, that fear of never getting another chance like this so I have to say everything I’ve ever wanted to say on the subject all at once to make sure I get my message across. That I use this opportunity to it’s limits as this might be my only shot, my only slot, my only opportunity to speak and shine.

Of course this is not based on fantasy. This is based on fact. Did you know that just 2,000 artworks in the UK’s permanent art collections are by Black artists – most of which aren’t on display?

And even though over the last couple of years, there has been more visibility and opportunities for Black and People of Colour artists to be part of the British art scene/establishment, for example with Sonia Boyce winning the top prize, the Golden Lion as she became the first Black female artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale. This is still a rarity and not the norm.

“It seems almost ridiculous that it takes into the 21st century for a Black British female artist to be invited to do Venice,”

Sonia Boyce

We are still operating in a highly racist, discriminatory system. FACT. I can continue to keep chipping away at this. And I will. But …

For here and now, I think it comes down to confidence and belief in what I’m doing. To silence the outside noise. Ignore the internal critic and just do it. Do the things I want to do and move on.

At the end of these 100 days, I’ll have a collection of items, products, creations that I will then pull together into a whole. Into saying something about something.

We will have to wait and see. But I’m enjoying the process.

So already I feel as it I’m winning.

July is just around the corner

A393, Cornwall

June is coming to an end. My challenge for this month, through posting each day, was to share content from my mixmoir as well as sharing about the process. I know I haven’t posted here everyday, or touched my mixmoir everyday either. But I know I’ve been much more engaged in the project this month than any other month this year because of this challenge.

To give myself a fair chance in getting to grips with the mixmoir, and because we are easing into Summer, with the school holidays imminent, I intend to continue to turn up for this practice in July.

I’m factoring in energy levels, commitments and time in the forthcoming month, and rather than change track now when I feel as I’m just getting into the swing of things, I’d like to go deeper into the mixmoir, especially around my current thinking about healing.
I’m satisfied with my decision. And this has only inspired me to continue. #onwards

Intrinsic – a new anthology of writing

It is with great delight that I share with you this forthcoming publication.

Late last year, I submitted a completed mixmoir essay to Eleanor Cheetham, at Creative Countryside. This was the end result of an application submitted on invitation by Eleanor last August.

Now, coming next month, through a successful Indigogo fund raising campaign, Intrinsic will be out in the world. And I’m overjoyed to see this project succeed. It’s been a while in the making, which isn’t a complaint as I am an advocate of ::SLOW:: but it was touch and go if this project was going to come to fruition due to finances. and that would have been a great shame and disservice if this beauty was lost to the world.

An anthology of 12 deep-rooted connections with the more-than-human world, this book is not like any other nature writing text out there. This anthology supports and uplifts the diverse voices which exist within this writing genre at the same time as expanding and redefining what nature writing can be.

I’m one of the twelve writers featured in this anthology. I took the time, and the much needed space, to explore something that I’ve been carrying around within my body and soul for a while; the link to the sea for my ancestors and me.

Seascape- Grief and Grievance and Healings is the title. It’s a narrative mixmoir piece rich in memories and hauntings, voices and references. I’m really proud of this baby and it was such a delightful process of creation throughout it all.

Please consider checking the anthology out, published by Creative Countryside and available to buy next month, July 2022.

Solvitur ambulando

Solvitur ambulando – “it is solved by walking.” Coined by the 4th-century-B.C. Greek philosopher Diogenes while attempting to response to the question of whether motion is real. Diogenes got up and started moving. He walked to try and solve the problem.

“It is solved by walking.”

The women from The Angelou Centre Walking

I read yesterday that there are no new beginnings. No beginnings because when we start something, we are already coming at it from the middle. We’ve already been in the thick of it, knee deep in the things that are important to our lives. The issues that hold our attentions and hearts. So when we start working on them, we’re already in the middle of the experience for us.

When we finish the project it’s not the end it’s just a marker on the journey. The journey will continue beyond this or that point. We keep on trying to make sense of our lives. To experience what is in our bodies, hearts and souls as long as we live. Is this not the whole point of our human existence? Of our creativity?

To get clear on our view of the world, or even our experience of the world as we move through the world and share these asides, moments and realisations with others through our creativity?

Solvitur ambulando

Diogenes of Sinope

There is nothing that cannot be solved through walking. There is a latin quote that says this phrase in just two words but who am I to know latin or even to hold this knowledge in my head. It is a foreign language, a foreign culture to me, living in my Black body but it is still passed off as something I should know. As an educated person in Western society that I should know. Not that it is alien to me and is not mine.

My heritage and culture, is denied to me, or is hidden, or re-constructed on a pile of lies. It takes my time and effort to unearth it all, for me and for others. Still through all that effort, to unearth and bring to light, fact and fiction, it’s not recognised. It’s not valued and is dismissed as not being good enough.

White Supremacy Culture is alive and kicking, And I keep kicking up against it no matter what I do or be. Try to do or try to be. I’ll always be found wanting.

Yesterday she went down to the sea to feel again

Yesterday, she went down to the bay
and had it all to herself. Taking off her shoes, she sunk her toes into the cold
damp sand. What will the sea feel like? she thought.

She undressed before she could register the wind-chill. She ran into the blue.

The water, wind-ruffled, greeted her body with short sharp bites. Her skin turned red and goosebumped. One Mississippi, two Mississippi. She screamed out loud nudging herself to stay within the cold embrace for longer.

Her breaths were shallow as she ducked her whole body under water. She came up, gasped for air, water trickling from her head back to the source, dripping over her wide toothed smile.

fly upon the wind
white-grey gull of Spring take space
expand your great wings

Under the Pink Moon, The Procession Thrums with Memories of Blossom

The Procession, 2022, Hew Locke

After Hew Locke. After Taylor Johnson

My father would say so much with his eyes and hands. Sitting up in his burgundy armchair like a thorn. He would dress in waistcoat and trilby to walk up the road to the bookies on blossom warm afternoons. And when he was gone, I waited in his shadow for his sing-song step to return up the stairs. And when he didn’t return, I sat there lost like our place in history and the world.

Something was wrong when I left the country. Heart tight, sorrow crawling through the blood. Leaving meant joining an age-old tradition, down dusty roads at the crack of dawn. Humid bodies, sweat mingling fear, ebb and flow red blue and green paints. Thrumming bass behind the truck. Before us, lined streets, roped between black and white bodies. We whine to claim space.

I love the freedom assembled lines give. Celebrate, protest, mourn, and escape: The Procession. My father who packed away home in his grip on arrival; was Roberta Flack who set off a smile. I was left to shift between the gap and practice owning something around blackness. I had a feeling I would never be enough. There are times of melting, with the turn of a record, under a pink moon, when there is so much beauty to live, when I recount memories of love tucked inside.

Bound up with Memory*

After Marcia Michael

My body has a yearning for the past. In this country, I am duped to believe and live as if we were nothing .

Nothing until they allowed us into existence. Nothing until they opened their arms, and allowed us to carry on being their slaves into the 21st century.

Search and recovery, my body reclaims her history.
My mother transported it on her skin, buried in the stomach of the ship, boat, truck.

My father carried it in his voice, trapped in the belly of the ship, train, coffin.

I cannot rely on any colonial archives for finding me and my people. Now or in the future.

Colluded, concealed, constructed, the archives have fabricated the narrative that sees we as other.

Reduce us to a footnote, a scar, a tear.

My body is my archive.
My presence is a testimony.

My imagination will do the rest.

*Quote from Toni Morrison 


The Object of My Gaze, on going project by Marcia Michael. Me Remembering you – transformations, 2021