Through April, during my social media hiatus, I have had two intense weekends away from home. One experience nourished my soul. The other pained my soul.
I will write at length about this some other time, some other place. For now, the first weekend was wild swimming in Snowdonia. It was awesome and exhilarating and pushed me out of my comfort zone. And subconsciously, I must have known within my body that I needed this, and the sea swimming the week afterwards, in preparation for the following weekend.
I was the one and only delegate for my union, Artists’ Union England at the TUC Black Workers’ Conference. I presented a motion around discrimation within the arts and culture as well as the cuts in funding which are felt the most by already impoverished communities where Black, Asian and ethnic minorities predominately reside.
This weekend was educational, informative and inspirational, as well as a wake-up call. I say we live in a beatiful world, but this world is also ugly, unfair and unjust. Systematic racism is the operating means of power and control. And I forgot. I bury my head most days. I live in my own little world. And this is a luxury I have to readdress and change if I am to be the agent of change I want to be.
When you are woke, you stay woke. You have to stay woke in order to keep that fire in your belly alive.
Expect more to follow about both of these experiences and others.
But for the time being, this site is going into reconstruction.
It has been a year in existence and things need to change. Hopefully for the better. I’m not sure how things are going to turn out but I’m excited about the prospects.
This is a hold page while I do this much needed work behind the scenes. But I’ll be still writing and creating during this time.
To stay up to date you have three options.
2. Subscribe to Studio Notes, receive a free download of poetry and intimate notes about my life and adventures about one or twice a month.
3. Become a patron for my Slow Writing practice on Patreon. Here I will be sharing my musings, creations and breakthroughs as I explore race, gender, power, the body and nature.
Hope to connect with you through any or all of these platforms.
Until next time, take care
I’m in the process of setting up a Patreon campaign. This is an online platform where creatives, like myself, can be supported finacially by people who like their work. It’s a simple way for readers or listeners or viewers to pledge money as a one off payment or as a monthly contribution. Receiving this financial support during the creative process is invaluable. It allows us the time and space to create as well as showing respect and appreciation for our efforts and work.
My page is nearly complete. Again I’m procrastinating out of fear but slowly, I’ll get there. Stay tuned.
One last thing, I created a ‘Mission Statement’. What do you think?
“I give voice to the unheard. I bring the black woman’s experience to the page, shining a light on our trials and joys and courage. Through their experiences, readers connect to my words, appreciating the truths pulled from the darkness.
As a writer who didn’t believe in my voice once, I stand for women to claim their own self-worth and testimony.
My passion lies in telling and sharing our stories via poetry and creative non-fiction. My intention through this writing is to gain recognition for our presence and our contributions, establishing our legacies for now and always.”
A new month equals new focus. Reflecting on the month gone and planning for the month ahead. Already, I feel as if I’m juggling so many ball but I know I’ve been carrying them around for a while. And I do pick them up gladly, it’s just some days I feel a bit overwhelmed.
It’s sometimes difficult to keep a handle on everything, to engage and move things forward. It always cones down to time and never having enough of it to get everything I want done, done. And then when there might be a window of time, I don’t have the energy to complete any task. Times like these are about keeping the faith and believing in the process.
Projects on the go NOW: ( Part 1)
1. Arts Council Funded creative project with writers around the First World War.
2. Heritage Lottery Funded project with Muslim girls around the First World War.
3. Developing Living Wild Studios as a creative business. Need to update/ rejig the website first.
4. Facilitating a creative retreat in Iceland this June. Planning schedule and securing two more people.
5. Stocking Folksy Store to sell my paintings, prints and collages.
6. Complete the writing and developing of my first e-course around visual journalling.
7. Explore my Iceland landscape abstract photography and paintings.
8. Develop my self-portraiture project through further research and practice.
9. Return to my Flaneuse research to feed into an offering in Paris. Research trip needs to be planned.
10. Start the planning for a women’s gathering in The Highlands through a research/self-appointed residency in March.
11. Start responding to the writing prompts from Eat My Stardust.
12. Listen to the second recording from Liberated Lines and write.
13. Complete final draft of poetry chapbook and send to Culture Matters ASAP.
14. Start the research and writing for my next full collection around our relationship with the land.
15. Continue with my self-directed study around seeking the Goddess.
16. Complete my Creative Journey Facilitator Training with Lisa Sonora.
17. Return to my developing creative non-fiction memoir around death.
18. Complete research around further grants and funding for women’s well-being projects.
19. Continue research for social enterprise – air on skin (working title) to encourage more ethnic minorities to develop a relationship with Nature.
20. Start self-appointed residency – North Sea Writer-in-Residence.
21. Return to second recording of Wild Soul Woman Facilitator training and respond with notes.
22. Get more sleep. Drink more water. Get more exercise. Eat more greens.
Another digital print is offered up on the Folksy Store today.
Red Oasis, a vibrant print of an original abstract painting completed while
in Iceland earlier this month.
The inspiration for this piece reads as:
Red is powerful. Red is bold. Red is the colour of my soul.
When I need to feel uplifted, if I’ve fallen into a slump, forgotten who I am, I reach for red. Anything red will do. Ink, clothing, paint. Using red as a base colour instantly shifts my energy as well as the painting’s energy.
With Red Oasis, there’s a richness that is created by the choice of colours as well as the placing of such. The red is balanced by two other strong colours, yellow and green. Together, this juicy combination creates heat; like Earth’s inner core, oozing reds and yellows, entrapped within her green coat.
With the addition of white and black there is a cooling effect. A moment to pause and rest. But the eye is soon drawn back towards the red.
Red is passion. Red is love. Red is the colour of my soul.
Go on over to the store to check out the print with details.
I was going to write, ‘for some reason’ …But I know my reason for real. And that reason is fear.
A couple of weeks ago, I opened a Folksy Store.
I felt the need to start selling my artwork. Starting with my abstract paintings, I’ve been quietly posting my items for sale onto the storefront and that’s it, leaving them there, hoping that someone would come along and buy.
I’m reminded of that song from Oliver- The Musical; Who will buy my sweet red roses? Two blooms for a penny.
The answer is no one. No one will buy if they don’t know you’re selling.
This has been the case with me, as I might have mentioned it in passing, or provided a link to the store in a profile, but I haven’t really been broadcasting it because of fear.
Fear has stopped me really opening my mouth and singing, who will buy?
Fear that no one will like my artwork. Fear that no one will buy my artwork.
But here’s the thing, I don’t create to sell. I create my work because of the way it makes me feel in the process. Because I gain so much joy and freedom from just playing with paint, moving it around the blank space, enjoying the feeling as something takes shape, comes into being which didn’t exist a moment before. Sharing this love, this joy, the feeling comes naturally to me.
It’s what I always do. I share my love in my artwork and writing through social posts. So why be fearful of sharing this love a little bit further, a little bit closer through offering to sell what I create to individuals
It’s only now, that I see the connection and see how this isn’t about the money, but about sharing little pieces of my soul. And being recognised and appreciated for doing so.
Check out the only listing at the moment, Blue Blush. But don’t worry more are coming and a selection will be showcased on this website. All listing will be made available at my beautiful Folksy store. Have I told you about my new store?
While coming to the end of my first trip to Iceland, while relaxing after time at The Blue Lagoon realising that I wanted to return to my life back home with Grace, I made a promise to myself that I would return to Iceland. I had to return.
It was from this point onwards that I started to look at artists’ residencies. I had just spent a week touring the whole of Iceland, so I was looking to base myself in one place for the duration of a residency in order to give myself a different experience.
The only place I couldn’t get to this first time around was the Westfjords. I’m not sure if I did this on purpose so I’d have to return or because it was about 8 to 9 hours drive to get there from Reykjavik off the Ring Road. This gave me a good enough reason to return as well as to fix my sights on a retreat in the Westfjords.
Through my research I found The Westfjords Residency.
“We seek to create encounters between nature and man, foreigner and local, the remote and the connected.“
A Danish-Belgian couple came to Thingeyri in 2005, started to rebuild an old, historic house into a coffeehouse called “Simbahöllin” in 2009. They then went on to create a cultural space with the Residency program being part of this. They offer group residencies that can be applied for but also self-directed individual residencies.
Before I worked out what I really wanted to do with my time in the Westfjords, I put in an application asking for a two week stay in winter 2017. I knew I had to immerse myself in the landscape of Iceland more, to explore this curious relationship and connection I had formed with this place. Basing myself in a remote and isolated fishing village was the ideal situation to do so.
I look back now at the time I spent in the Westfjords, while still in Iceland but this time in the south, and I wonder what happened then. What did I do with my time out there? What did I achieve, if anything?
I could judge this endeavour along productivity lines. I could judge it by the all-doing, all- going and all-singing-and-dancing routine that are the external markers of today’s society. It’s how we function.
But that would be missing the point. A residency or retreat, for that matter, is about the time and space away from the everyday not doing the usual. An opportunity to settle deeper into the self. It’s a chance to take your foot off the accelerator and to press on the brakes, gently. Allowing yourself to come to a complete stop and just be.
Breathe, deep breaths not the shallow sharp ones that you’ve been getting by on for years. But really deep juicy breaths that fill you up with wonder and awe and reignite you again from the core, from your true self.
Taking my cues from this definition of a residency then my time spent in the Westfjords was time well spent. I look forward to repeating the experience.
Day 7 – my hair feels like
:: A black woman’s body was never hers alone::
Fannie Lou Hamer
Is your hair real? she asks. I sit next to her on the stationary bikes.
I’ve seen them doing that kind of thing along the beach in Jamaica.
I say nothing.
Not to people like you but tourists. You know they pay for it.
I stare forward peddle faster.
Obviously, she’s an older woman who likes to talk. Maybe
the gym is a social occasion for her. I try not to judge.
Did it take a while for you to get it done?
I want to tell her that this is my hair. All my own hair.
Do you wash it?
Really, lady? You’re asking me if I wash my hair?
I want to ask her would she ask
the same questions to a white woman?
I focus on my reflection, and then catch her moving in.
Oh can I touch it?
No! You can’t. I find my voice.
She looks outraged and confused. But why?
I want to say
because I’m not an animal in a zoo
because I’m not your property
because this is my body.
But I say nothing. I move away and if anyone’s
watching it looks like I’m being rude.
#dreadscapes #blackwomensbodies #canitouchit #selflove
Day 5 – the sound of lightning
let me sit in the silence a moment longer
let me bury my worries in the heart of a friend
like an uninvited guest coming to my home
it tattoos its energy across the sky
altering the motion of the sea
altering the colour of the night
as a gang of seagulls take up its chorus
I can only hang up a net to trap the notes
hoping in time I’ll come to love the rage
hoping in time I’ll appreciate its music