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.
Today, I’m up at 6am. We return to school after half-term break, and after the school run, I have an outdoor meeting. So my time is spoken for during the day. So I get up early, to come to my desk, and write. I ‘m working on putting my priorities first for a change. And don’t get me wrong, no one puts pressure on me to put their needs and wants first. No, no one has to do that because I do it myself. It is I who thinks I should be and do everything to everyone and bend in so many different directions and ways to make this happen. And when I don’t I’m racked with guilt and think I’m a bad mother, wife, friend, human being even.
For now, I’m changing this record which has been on repeat for far too long. I’m changing it up and sticking on the record which is called, Sheree’s priorities. It’s a sound that takes some getting used to. It’s a sound I might want to turn off straight away as it’s too needy, to hesitate, too demanding, too vulnerable. But I persevere through practice. Through turning up at my desk each day, sitting my arse down and picking up that pen and facing the uncertainties, I know I’m strengthening a much neglected muscle. And it feels good to find and use those muscles I didn’t even know I had.
And this morning, the music of that priorities record, that new release, is so growing on me that I find myself tapping my feet, swaying and singing along to the sweet sweet tune of creativity.
Yesterday we took a trip to the Centre for Life in Newcastle, a Life Science Centre which was showing a whole heal of exhibitions and films about space and time travel and the night skies. We rocked up there not knowing what to expect but we weren’t disappointed. I can see how the entry fee would put people off, as it’s kind of steep, but really if you’re being savvy which we weren’t really, you could stay in there all day, take a packed lunch and get your money’s worth. As it was we were in there for nearly 5 hours and we hardly covered the place.
It’s a place where your inner kid can roam. I suggest you take some kids along with you because then you have no choice but to get down to their level and look around the experiment stations, the brain exhibitions, the play stations and the displays with wonder and curiosity.
The best part for me was sitting in the Planetarium with my head right back so I could watch the night sky to its fullest on the dome screen. The presentation on the stars and constellations and our universe was so amazing. And I just found myself, like a kid again, exclaiming ‘wow’ at every new image and cool fact. This is the second time this year that I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the night skies and I’m sure it’s not going to be my last as these happenings are working to open up a door inside me which always said I was too stupid to know anything about our universe or life beyond us. But maybe it was a case of just not giving this field of knowledge and research enough attention. It’s science right? And black girls don’t do science! Wrong!
Well I’m learning now and I’m definitely not too stupid to take it all in and run with it.
I had a serious talking to myself this week after I realised I was wasting far too much time on other people’s stuff instead of catering to my own needs and dreams. So when our spare room became clear again, I snatched it with both hands and set up my writing space.
I’ve turned up three days in a row to this desk and my writing tasks and dreams. And it might not sound like much to you but to me, it feels like a breakthrough. I’m no longer thinking of blocks or hard work, I’m thinking just turn up and see what happens. And when I hold this attitude, I motor along.
So my advice today is if you want to get creative you do have the time. We’ve got to stop making excuses or allowing other people’s expectations get in the way of what we really want to do. Onwards.
I’ve missed two days of being here. I didn’t post anything over the weekend. Did you notice? I mean who is actually reading my blog. Some days nobody and sometimes that hurts but then I remember I write for me first and foremost. But sometimes that harsh reality feeds into my desire to post or not post especially if I’m sick or low on energy. Self-care is one of my mantras as well as practice.
This weekend I completed my Outdoor First Aid training. 16 hours of intense learning, practical study all the way so that if anything was to happen while taking a group out into nature I could administer first aid.
60% of deaths in the U.K. could be unavoidable if more people knew how to save a life or give immediate, temporary first aid to give an individual who’s injured or had an accident a fighting chance of survival.
I found this figure staggering and unacceptable. Also the figures show that women and children receive the least amount of first aid, CPR really, as there’s a reluctance to touch for a fear of causing offence or being too heavy handed. I find this even more appalling and start to think what the figures would show regarding black women? I’m not even going to look because I don’t think those figures would have even been recorded, never mind be any better.
I shouted out in my class, I don’t care if you have to cut my bra and see my breasts to administer CPR on me if it saves my life. Of course this received a laugh and then jokes about having a t-shirt made with that same message on.
But I think there are people in this world who think that my life isn’t worth saving. And who has the right to think that or to act or fail to act in a way that endangers life?
I find this world maddening and angering a lot of the time. But I have practices in place that helps me to diminish this anger towards others and this society we live in so I can turn towards light and love. And that’s no new-age woolly all nicey kind of love but this is a fierce, fighting self- love which is self-care and feeds my self-worth so it isn’t dependent on anyone else’s opinion or actions. It has to be.
So yes I missed a couple of days here and I’m not tracking back to fill them in as I might have done in the past. I’ve made this decision because I think and feel, and I don’t need anyone else’s opinion on this, that I was doing greater and better things this weekend.
“ I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.” Maya Angelou
Today, I am daring myself to draw again. To allow myself to draw and dream and to be just curious again. To try things out, to practice with colour and not worry if it’s not right , if I get it wrong. I dare myself to get out my coloured pencils and to just try. To draw for me. And this is scary as it’s for nothing else I’m working on. It’s doing something for no other reason than to just try. And it doesn’t matter if I’ve got no time and other things are pressing. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t know where to start, or what I’m doing. I have an inkling to try so why not go with it. I dare myself today.
It’s good when you can have meetings with other people, particularly women, and find that you are on the same page and one idea leads to the next and the next and then before you know it you have a full year planned out with activities and events.
What was good about today is that the meetings were not for personal gain but were plans to share the great outdoors with others, the less fortunate, who might not otherwise have these opportunities.
It’s a good day when you can share what you love with others.
Today, I was due back up at the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session for all around the themes of Hadrian’s Wall and the new Lost Words exhibition. Unfortunately, due to adverse weather conditions, the event has been cancelled.
Even though, I’d spent the last few days in preparation for the storytelling, which I view as time well spent not wasted, I’m grateful for the free time I’ve been gifted today. I felt as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulder and now I can relax into Sunday. And I’m not going to rush and fill this empty time with all the jobs I have piling up with the house or family or work related stuff.
What I intend to do and what I’ve been doing is to remain curious and allow myself to be intuitively guided towards what I feel I want or need to do. Okay I might have to do some dishes or we’ll be eating off our hands all day. But at the same time, I’ve been visiting my visual journal and experimenting with my resources; journalling, moving paint around, doodling, dreaming. Being creative but just enjoying the process and not really thinking about the end product.
Sometimes, I need to take the time and space to remember the benefits of my visual journalling practice, what it’s seen me through, supporting my healing and grieving, and how it supports me to remain curious about my creativity but also life, my life in general.