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.
I was hoping to finish for a Christmas break sooner in December than I actually did. I wanted to ease into the holidays, getting snug and cosy and reading to my heart’s content. Of course even the best laid plans go awry. But I still managed to clock up some reads, as I got ready for 2021. What is going to be my focus the new year? I think there’s some clues within my December reading list.
Here are the books I read this month:
Black Bodies, White Gaze – George Yancy
Keep Going – Austin Kleon
Creatrix – she who makes – Lucy H. Pearce
Slow: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Hectic World – Jo Peters
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.
I finally got around to buying Jennifer Sterling’s book, Dear Strong Black Woman: Letters of nourishment and reflection from one strong black woman to another. And beginning to read it.
I think I’ve been reluctant to read it as I was thinking it wouldn’t tell me anything new. And I think I was also not in the right place to face it, to face a big chunk of harsh reality.
I know what it’s like being a black woman in a predominately white world. In a world where my worth is questioned and examined daily and always come back wanting.
I’m a strong black woman and have had to become this way or live this stereotype for good reason. For survival. And being vulnerable and showing my weakness or even asking for help has been for decades non-negotiable. Not happening.
But I was wrong. This slim but powerful book is just what I need right now. As it speaks to my soul, it speaks to my suffering. It legitimatises my experiences and struggles. It’s a witness and a testimony to my existence. And I thank Jennifer for writing these letters to me and to other strong black women like me.
As hard as some of these letters are to read, they are the balm I need to keep moving through this world, strong but also vulnerable, open hearted and beautiful.