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.
Many moons ago, I went to Washington State to visit a new friend, Sarah Spaeth, who I met while picking grapes on Monteleone in Lazio, Italy. That was over 10 years Aga now and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve had some adventures in the States, over here in Scotland and also Iceland.
While I was in residence with the Jefferson Land Trust, where Sarah was the Executive Director at the time, I fell in love with Fort Walden which was just down the road from where I was staying. It’s a national park with the sea, beach and trees and a creative centre, called Centrum.
I remember Sarah talking about this centre while in Italy and how much I would love it there and to come and see. She was right, I felt right at home there. And when I took my family over there, we spent plenty of hours hanging out there. It was my dream to sometime return and do a writing retreat there, or attend their summer writing program.
The summer writing program is just like going back to college for a week. Writing workshops in the morning and afternoon and then evening readings. To be immersed in writing for a whole week, with other writers, bliss. Obviously this year, it’s had to be cancelled. So instead they’re offering a Summer Writing Intensive but virtually. The next best thing. And something I could so attend.
So I am, starting tomorrow, I’m going to writing college and going to spend the week in poetry and fiction workshops. Go to some readings in the evening, but totally live the writer’s life and I do so from the comfort of my own home. And what’s even neater is that I’ve been given a scholarship to take part for which I am so grateful.
So apologies not is you don’t see me here next week, as I’ll be soaking up the writing atmosphere and vibes from across the pond.
It feels an age since I’ve been here. But I’ve been busy. I’m been creating a podcast over at Earth Sea Love. The Earth Sea Love Podcast is a podcast for and about women of colour and their relationship with nature hosted by Sheree Mack. The Earth Sea Love Podcast is committed to exploring the experiences of women of colour with Mother Nature. We want to provide spaces where the hidden voices in the environmental/ conservation conversations can explore their relationship with the natural world.
Inspired by time spent outdoors, we amplify the voices of women of colour; our stories, conversations, interviews, photography, writing and artwork.
We’ll be exploring our legacies, histories and memories which have had an influence and effect upon how we perceive ourselves within the natural world and environmental/ climate justice movements.
This podcast is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
we go live tomorrow 13 July 2020. Be ready to listen in on all the major podcast platforms.
I had the pleasure of being part of the Prompted By Nature podcast this month. It was good to have a chat about my relationship with nature and the work I’ve been completing within the region, with Earth Sea Love, offering opportunities to Black, Asian and ethnic minority women and girls to enjoy experiences with/in nature.
* The importance of BAME visibility and representation in natural spaces and the marketing of nature-based brands as well as the need to motivate a new generation of black women leaders
* The financial side of accessibility in nature
* Land as holding trauma and associations with enslavement
* Nature as a space of oneness
I’ve just listened to the podcast for the first time and I was smiling along with the conversation, as it is so good. I share a lot and there are some words of wisdom that we could all take away. Check it out here. Thanks.
Since May, I’ve been sharing my writing on Medium. This is a platform I’ve tired a number of times before but for some reason the habit just didn’t stick. I now know this probably had something to do with having nothing really to say. But now I do.
I’ve been contributing to the Binderful Blog, which a small online community of women, started a few years ago, which offers classes to support women questioning their lives. Maybe shaking up the status quo from the kitchen table outwards. I’m due to create a class with Binderful but in the meantime, I’ve been writing on Medium for them.
If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve shared so far then click below to read the articles.
This month was a hard month to concentrate on any longer reads. My reading was bitty and more about current affairs with The Guardian newspaper getting many hits. Other featured websites were The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Orion and The New York Times.
The readings was what it was, what it needed to be to get me through each moment, each day.
The one book I read, while I started many, was A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson. A poetry collection exploring the Grenfell disaster intimately which went on to win the T S Eliot Prize in 2019.
I was attempting to complete my second round of #100daysofblogging while also creating a poem a day for National Poetry Writing Month in April. I was going well. I past the mid-point, and I just ran out of steam. And I also think enjoyment. I wasn’t really inspired with what I was writing. I think I was writing for writing sake. To fulfil the challenges and not my soul. Sometimes this works for me. I know in the past, I’ve created daily words for years and thought nothing about it. But I suppose I’m getting older and wiser and also figuring out what’s important to me and no one else. What my gut has to say about things takes precedent.
I have been writing in other places though during this impasse on the blog. I have a piece over on Medium for the The Binderful Blog titled, ‘Learning to Stay Inside,’ and documents my journey with the Coronavirus. I have also returned to my mixed-media memoir and I’m happy to say we’re in love. We spend a lot of time together getting to know each other again and working out what’s working between us and what’s not. We’re open and honest with other, basing our relationship on our vulnerabilities. I’m more than satisfied with how things are working out between us. I know I have to keep honouring this process by turning up each day and just touching in.
Turning up here today to find some words I needed for the memoir, meant I took the time to read over some past posts. See where I was at different times over the last five years. While reading, I gained a sense of perspective as well as pride for what I have created here. I love my website, because it’s attempt to present me and my process to the world. And it’s not polished or professional but it is real. It gives you a glimpse behind the curtain. It’s honest and vulnerable and it is so me.
So I’m not going to beat myself up for not completing a challenge. And I’m also not going to beat myself up if I miss days, or weeks before coming back here to blog. I’m learning to treat myself with more grace. And how that’s looks it still a work in progress but I do know as Michelle Obama wisely said, it is becoming.
” Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. It’s forward motion, a mans of evening, a way to reach continuously towards a better self. “
My reading habits this month have been flitting here and there and everywhere. I’ve found it difficult to concentrate and be disciplined enough to see a book through to the end. Being that said, when I did get into a book such as An America Marriage by Tayari Jones, I finished it in a day. Demonstrating that I just needed a book to grab and hold my attention to keep with it. But isn’t that usually the case? This book was fiction, something I’ve not been reading for a couple of months and the main characters were African-American. And it sang from the page right up to the end.
Still got all the books I’ve started this year on the go. Nature non-fiction book really, linked to my work, so with the lockdown, it makes perfect sense that I’m not rushing to complete these.
Here’s April’s readings:
1. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
2. Afro-Persimism: An Introduction by Frank B. Wilderson III
3. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr Joy Degruy
4. All Yarrow Magdalena’s zines
5. Black Girl Magic edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds, and Jamila Wo
I’ve been resting up this weekend, after feeling exhausted and a bit depressed. I leaned into my creative practice as well as self-care practices such as fresh air, walking, yoga to make sure I finished the weekend in a better place.
I sat on Sunday evening creating a little gift for anyone and everyone who has been enjoying my sea posts throughout this time of quarantine. I’m taking a break for a while from social media and probably blogging too as I rest and go within. I’ll still be completing my poetry and my #100daysofblackwomen but just not posting them anywhere publicly. All the more to share when I do return.
In the UK, we have another 3 weeks of the coronavirus lockdown. I want to use this time to tap into my inner wisdom more and ramp up my self-care and self-love practices. I want to come out of this darkness a better version of me. Transformation takes time and effort but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.
I leave you Seaswim,the first of many zines that I’m planning to bring out of the studios during 2020. I hope you enjoy this beginning.