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

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.

Let’s Go Outside

Visual journaling 04/05

At the moment, I’m using an altered (romance) book as my visual journal. I go with my moods when it comes to deciding what to use next for my visual journal. I listen to my gut and what she’s calling for in terms of size, shape, texture of page, of journal she needs in order to show up daily for the next month or so.

So with an altered book as my journal I was calling for space to explore colours but also layering, composition and found text.

There will be pages that are heavy with colour and my handwriting while others I’ll crave colour with space and some text cut ups applied.

I’m using Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye at the moment to create found poetry for double page spreads. The Bluest Eye was the first book I read in which I found someone who looked like me and who felt the same self-hate I was experiencing around growing up in a predominately white society being within a Black body. It was revolutionary for me and my personal development to find this book when I did.

I suppose using a copy of the book now to cut up and repurpose is saying something about how I’m feeling at the moment and how I want to see myself on the page. How I want to take back the space, take up space and be validated. But on my own terms.

I love how powerful visual journaling is to my psyche and how I move my body through this world but does so through such a simple process. It never ceases to amaze me what comes to light and fruition through this practice.

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

exquiste details

The older I get the more
the details move me.

Fresh golden sheafs
in the tall grass.

Greylag geese lifting
into flight. Tiny bits

of white shells in moist
sand. The brown and

cream stripes of horsetail.
The small orange berries

of sea buck thorn.
As I note these details

my body quivers with
recognition and joy.

grow

she opens the kitchen door

after the rain,

the garden is fresh

the air is sweet and clean.

she smells the soil,

the berries are bright.

As the dead leaves are blown away

to leave a clear white sky.

she adjusts her energy

and wants to grow