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 love this time of year. Autumn is my birth season and it’s when I shine. There’s that ‘back-to-school’ feeling accompanied by the change in energy and light. There’s a bubbling of anticipation as the landscape is on the turn. Transformation is possible.
I lean into the season by getting outside into nature as much as possible. Usually when the schools go back , we can enjoy a few weeks of sunshine, a late summer roll out of heat before the temperatures drop.
September is also a good month also to enjoy sea swimming as this is as warm as it’s going to get, The North Sea, after storing some of the summer’s warmth. The water can be so clear sometimes, calm and still.
This transitional season is beautiful because where there is life there is also decay and death. The late blooming flowers still have some joy to give. At the same time as the berries are bursting out of brambles and bushes. Leaves begin to turn colour, to collect in brown bundles. A time to harvest those seeds we planted in spring. A time to count our blessings and give thanks.
‘It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness. ‘ Austin Channing Brown
My last post, Black Fatigue, was written in a moment of anger, hence all the mistakes. Not mistakes in the argument or feelings but in the spellings and grammar. But I make no apologies. Sometimes it’s good for the soul, or good for me to let the anger out that I’m carrying around, moment to moment, daily.
It’s probably one of the rare occasions, I’ve allowed myself to vent as I have learned through years and experiences being an angry Black woman gets me nowhere. But the flip side, where has being an amicable and amenable Black woman got me? Probably well down the road of mental health issues and questionable wellbeing.
A week on, and I’m still sick and tired of the things playing out in my life as I move through this world in the body of a Black woman but still not recognised or treated as a fellow human being. I could even say that things have gotten worse as with time, more slights and ignorance and lack of awareness of their actions and inactions accumulate. Continue to accumulate as I get older but also as I attempt and fight to be met eye to eye with others as a human being deserving of living and striving within this world.
I oscillate between exhaustion and anger. Being depleted and fired up. And the worse thing of all is those that cause this suffering are oblivious to it. And even when I take the time and energy to point it out to them, how their actions are being unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and not seeing the situation in it’s totality they get on the defensive, do not engage with the issue, but deflect it away with comments like, ‘ I won’t engage with you when you’re being so aggressive.’
I stand by my post Black Fatigue. I just wish I’d mentioned emotional labour too. I can see now, as I reach 50 years old this year, that I have spent my lifetime trying to fit in. That means trying to be white. That is the only way to be let / given an inch in this game/ society/ life. I’m expected to be white because this is the cultural way of being. White people believe being white is right and good. Anything ‘other’ is wrong and should do everything right to become more white.
Now as I continue to question this standard, the way of operating in society, in the world, I’m going to become more and more angry and exhausted because I’m constantly being judged for being a Black female in a world made for whiteness. Everywhere I turn, in the street, on social media, on the TV, my self-esteem is being chipped away while living with the disparities in job opportunities, health care, education, and in the justice system. And I’m supposed to be happy and grateful when someone white talks about diversity and offers a crumb as if it’s taking a risk. And then if I have the audacity to ask for more, there’s tears.
I’ve taken a break from social media as I was falling into the comparison spiral trap as well as putting pressure on myself to produce. But I see now what I was doing was performing. This is my pain and this is my joy. I was striving for the viewer, for you, to see me, treat me, like a fellow human being. It appears it’s the only dance I know. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be white at the same time as trying to convince/explain/ argue that I’m worthy, that I’m a fully functioning and feeling human being who deserves to be here for your discarded crumb. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.
I’m taking back control and my power so I can control my rage. Not to protect others but myself. I’ve got to make sure now that my anger doesn’t destroy me. I’m putting in emotional labour with me, for me now.
Sometimes we forget what makes us happy. Sometimes we’re busy running through our lives that we don’t have the time to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes we are stuck on that producing carousel that we end up whizzing past joy straight into the next thing to do or achieve or buy.
For me, I try to slow down and practice being, practice joy because sometimes it is easier to bypass the positive feelings and skip straight to the negative; the bad things that have happened, are happening it will happen. For me, I’m trying to lean into the joy when I feel it as what you give your attention to blossoms. And who would ‘t want more joy in their life?
So this is where my list came along. And it does change from time to time, as I’m a changing woman, things change, circumstances change and it’s easier on the self to acknowledge and accept this.
What’s bringing me joy at the moment are:
1. Sea swims – bitterly cold but invigorating
2. Writing – after a online intensive course ( note to follow here) my writing has taken a turn for the better
3. Cooking – trying out new vegan recipes as I embrace a meat free lifestyle
4. Walking – I get a chance to switch off my brain and switch on my senses
5. Visual journaling – always my go to, to process, to dream, to play
6. Spending time with family
7. Connecting with friends, true friends who I can trust and be myself with
8. Sleep – especially in clean, crisp sheets and no alarm set
9. Dancing and singing
10. Exploring new places – loading up the car and just driving with a sense of adventure.
1. Up at 5.30am.
2. The whole centre to myself. Silence.
3. The mist rising off the reservoir into grey.
4. The warm glow of women gathering.
5. Smearing colour across white spaces claiming voice.
6. Hummus, falafel, kebabs and naan.
7. Hot boiling black tea with a hint of cardamom.
8. Walking out back amongst the pines.
9. Larch cones clinging to dark branches.
You can access joy only when three conditions are present: a state of lively engagement with life, a receptive and spacious heart, and a respect for other beings than ourselves. Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditation for the Turning Year, Caitlin Matthews