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.
A few weeks ago, when I was in the thick of my separation and wondering how I was going to get through the rest of 2020, I made a commitment to myself to designate October as a creative retreat month. I’m not going anywhere, but I am protecting my time to retreat from the world and outside commitments in order to focus on my creative practice.
Due to circumstances, I’ve allowed things to get lost in transition. Focusing on what brings me joy, like reading and writing and creating haven’t been top of my list for ages, it feels. So protecting October, my favourite month of the year, my birth month, as time and space to re-engage with my creative projects and start some new ones felt right for me.
Only a few days into October, and I was inspired in a poetry workshop to attempt #thesealychallenge. This challenge is to read thirty-one poetry books or chapbooks in the thirty-one days of August. I know it’s October but I’m coming late to the party. But I feel this is just what I need to relight my fire, put pen to paper and write poetry.
So far this month, I’ve read 5 poetry collections and chapbooks. What I’m doing while reading is also collecting words, single words which I like the sound of, or I find are being used in new and usual ways. Words that stir my interest and create a reaction.
What this reading is doing is inspiring me to write again. So from just reading other people’s work, immersing myself in the world of poetry again, I’ve created 6 new poems. So I’m going all the way this time, and trying for 31 poems by the end of the month; 31 poems in 31 days.
This has already gotten me through a block, a fear that was starting to take hold of me that I might be only able to write while in crisis, while in an unhappy state. But by producing something over the last few days, I’ve now put that fear to rest. I’m back, reading and writing, writing and reading.
The clouds are stretched across the blue sky. The light is bright and it’s a welcomed gift as we enter the month of October. And with the season changing, I make a renewed effort to get out each day and enjoy the outdoors more. This is my favourite of year as well as my birth month. And although things are still up in the air in relation to the coronavirus and BLM and a multitude of natural disasters around the world, there are still blessings to be experienced and be grateful for. One blessing being able to walk outside my front door and be greeted by nature every day, no matter what the weather.
With the leaves turning shades and the air becoming crisp and sharp, I’m going to take this opportunity to deepen my connection with nature, with others and more importantly myself.
Over on Instagram, I’ve accepted the invitation from a friend to take part in #aseasonedconnection for the month of October where we share our relationship with nature in images and words. There are no rules accept connecting with nature, ourselves and each other. You’re more than welcome to join. And enjoy the coming season.
A special two-part creative workshop to develop new and exciting ways of observing and capturing your experiences with nature (especially our smallest creatures), led by Dr Sheree Mack, Writer in Residence at Northumberland National Park.
Thursday 8 October 10:30 – 12:00
Thursday 22 October 10.30-12.00
About the event
Inspired by our Action for Insects campaign, the group workshop (run virtually via Zoom) involves two 1.5 hour sessions (8th and 22ndOctober) to learn more about the fascinating and vital world of insects, and how you can help protect them in our region. The campaign is aimed at reversing the decline of our smallest creatures, of which 41% of species currently face extinction.
Dr Mack, will help develop your creative techniques, guiding you through a variety of ways to observe nature using words, imagery and audio to bring your experiences to life. Between workshops, you’ll be encouraged to collect your own experiences of the natural world, then you’ll have the chance to share these with the group, gaining feedback and insight into the journeys of yourself and others.
Anyone over 18 can join, so if you enjoy flexing your creative flair, want to find new ways of connecting to nature, or simply want the chance to meet and share experiences with others from the safety of your own home, then this workshop is for you!
A studio is a sanctuary. A studio is somewhere you can escape to. Escape from the noise, from all the other commitments. The stresses of the world.
Here in a studio, you are able to immerse yourself in inspiration and creativity. It’s a personal space where you can be yourself, enjoy the freedom of taking risks and daydreaming without interruption.
Over the years, this has been what this space has been; Living Wild Studios. These studios were created so I’d a space online to explore my creativity and myself. A safe space where I’d be able to pick up pen and paper, paintbrush and glue and not worry about what was about to pour forth. I felt secure in my ability to explore and learn from it. I’m so grateful for creating these studios for me, first and forth most. But over the years, I’ve grown to love being able to share them with you.
Now that I’ve moved homes after a separation from my husband of nearly 25 years, I’m fixing to created another studio, closer to home, a physical studio to call my own.
Over the years, I’ve tried to create this space through different homes and means. At one time, I had a corner in a sitting room, another time I took over the spare room once the eldest went off to Uni. At another time, I had the privilege of being able to pay for a purpose built studio along a train platform. But that didn’t last.
I’ve lived for the last few years between rooms in a flat as a studio. Always having to move my resources and supplies as the room was needed for something or someone else.
This is my studio as it stands now. Needing a lot of work. But I can see the potential of the space as I attempt to zone it into the different art forms and headspaces I occupy when I create. Of course the bike isn’t staying. It can’t stay. But I think as it stands in the middle of my studio now it’s an indication of how I’ve been treating my creative genes for the past few months. A dumping ground as well as neglected and discarded.
This room will be changing next week. Check back into see the studio take shape and become a working wonderland of curiosity and fun.
We take so much for granted in our lives.
We tend forget that life itself is a gift.
A gift which we have the potential to make amazing.
We owe it to ourselves to take the time and space to become more aware of what we already have. And appreciate it.
What I’m grateful for at the moment:
1. A roof over our heads.
2. Food on our plates.
3. Our health as a family.
4. Friends to care for and be cared by.
5. Broadband to support me to create new work opportunities.
6. Pen and paper and magazines to cut up.
8. The morning sun. The morning rain.
10. My hoping heart.
I’ve started, so I’ll finish. My thoughts when I think about coming here to record my readings for last month; June. This is the only way I’m keeping track of what I’m reading in terms of books, and when I started I felt it would be a worthwhile pursuit. Something to look back at, at the end of the year, and be proud at the achievement. At the fact of reading so many books. I didn’t set a target I don’t think. But forgive if I’m wrong as January feels so far away now. And thank God for this practice as I can’t remember what I read back then. Or even last month if I think about it. Hence being here now, before any more days of July rolls by and I haven’t marked down what books I read in June.
So here is the list of completed reads. And I’ve got so many other books on the go at the moment that I won’t be able to share them all, but I’ll share a smattering of them to give you an idea. There have been times when it’s been difficult to concentrate on a long read. I’d read a chapter and then skip off to do something else, or read something else. Concentration and focus have been elusive. I think that’s where poetry collections come into play. Quick and easy and brief.
Books read this month:
1. Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful by Alice Walker
2. Mama Amazonica by Pascal Petit
3. Between the Islands by Philip Gross
4. Hare Soup by Dorothy Molloy
5. Ledger by Jane Hirshfield
6. Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
7. The Creative Doer by Anna Lovid
Books in progress this month:
1. Overstory by Richard Powers
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
3. Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
4. The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare
5. Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
6. Ecotherapy: Healing with nature in mind edited by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist