I recently got this photograph from the #100daysofthegoddessandlove series enlarged and printed onto photo board.
I sat for a few days with her in my living room exhibited on a black metal easel. I would sit and just look at her. I would say to anyone passing, I made that. I was blown away by how beautiful my work looked. And it didn’t bother me if no one else loved it/ her it was enough that I did. I’m proud of my creation. I look at her and smile. I feel a deep swell of love for her. But really it’s for myself and my achievements. I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’m ‘doing good’. External validation is not sort or needed.
I didn’t make this physical piece of art to sit in my sitting room though. I’m preparing for an exhibition of prints; prints of the Goddess.
I’ve been invited to exhibit this series at a special fund raising event for a charity which is close to my heart, with which I’ve been developing a relationship with over the last couple of years.
The Angelou Centre, Newcastle, is a unique Black-led space dedicated to supporting and uplifting Black, Asian and ethnic minority women across the North East region of England. This centre offers a holistic approach to improving the lives of these women, some who are very vulnerable and are suffering. At a national level, the Angelou Centre strives to make sure these women’s voices are represented and heard, especially in relation to the issues that they face every day.
The Angelou Centre is celebrating 25 years this year and are organising an inspiring fund raising event to mark the occasion. It seems fitting that the Goddess should make an appearance at this special event because she is so very good at teaching myself and others what it really means to love and care for ourselves. There will be music and dancing, food and spoken word. I will be performing my poetry and reciting ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou. Such an honour.
I’m looking forward to the event but also nervous as I will be exposed in more ways than one on the evening. But I know in my gut that I’m so ready for this.
Friday 25 October, at the Grand Hotel, Gosforth Park. More details can be found here. See if you can come along. It’s for a great cause.
This was a great walk along a 6 mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall to finally seeing in real life the iconic Sycamore Tree. Tree of the Year, 2016 and the most photographed spot in the whole of Northumberland National Park, I’ve had this site on my bucket list all summer. So to finally be able to spend time with this majestic tree growing from within a gap in the Roman wall was a moment indeed.
Whin Sill the bedrock beneath the wall, in this area, has been naturally worn away by large amounts of meltwater flowing beneath the ice sheets to create channels, or gaps. Other gaps can be found at Rapishaw Gap and Milking Gap.
This tree has become famous not for its geology but for appearing on the big screen and TV, starting along side Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Brenda Blethyn in the TV series Vera and Robson Green in More Tales from Northumberland.
I’m going through my days pissed off. Wasting my time comparing myself to others and their success and finding myself wanting. Maybe I’m coming down after a high. Maybe I’m burnt out after the summer’s ups and downs.
What I do know is that when I get like this, and it’s nothing new, I have to withdraw and focus on me. Make self-care top of the list. Self-care for me includes creativity. It’s also about trying to find the balance between going into my cave and staying visible, sharing my work.
There’s a part of me that wonders what kind of work I’d produce if no one was watching. If I kept every brush stroke and every word to myself. What would I create.
I’m taking Painting the Feminine again this year with Connie Solera. This time last year an anonymous lady gifted me a space on the course for which I’m eternally grateful. This year, not dripping in money but we have enough to pay for this course as I know it’s nectar for my soul. This year, I plan to keep my creations to myself until the student exhibition at the end as an experiment to see how I do create in private.
Over here, I’m launching a new project around walking. Flaneur/ Flaneuse as a concept has been with me for years, the act of walking in the city, aimlessly observing life. I plan to walk for the next 30 days, take an image and accompany this with some text. I refer back to my commitment to self-care. Walking is another life source for me along with nature and the sea. Walking makes me feel expansive and positive and unbreakable.
More to follow as the 30 days unfold.
Anyway each day, gonna post my adventures here as a means of keeping me accountable as well as getting me to blog more too. Win-win.
Over the weekend, I attended a Wretched of the Earth gathering in London focusing on #climatejustice, billed as Building Our Power. This was a first for me to attend such an event; where I knew the majority of participants would be black, brown and indigenous people as well as gathered together to discuss the climate crisis. I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited about the prospect as far too long I’ve been the only black face in the room when talking about the natural world, the environment and conservation.
The event didn’t disappoint. It was such an amazing and inspiring space to be part of as everything was being co-created; the values and actions, the tactics and strategies of the movement moving forward. What struck me and what I take away with me and move forward with is the way that the climate debate is framed within Western society is wrong and misleading. There has been growing concern for endangered species and the melting icecaps and how we can make a change through recycling and other such individual measures. Yet this narrative keeps hidden the major causes of climate change along with the pain and suffering that has been experienced for decades within the Global South because of such.
Climate Justice is about re-writing the narrative and exposing the inequalities and injustices that have been going on for the last 500 years through colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. This climate emergency cannot be divorced from other issues such as housing, crime, poverty and racism. we enjoy a privileged standard of living in the West because communities and people in the south suffer, be that through being used as cheap labour or have their homes and livelihoods decimated due to extractions industries and drought.
There is so much to be learned around these issues which I’m motivated to explore and share. The creative non-fiction memoir of mixed genres which I’ve been writing this year centres about a black woman’s body with/in nature, I envision to take on a more climate justice stance as I continue to champion how nature has helped me heal and how we, humanity, need to heal through our re-connection with nature.
At the beginning of August I started my third and final #100daysproject of 2019.
I started 2019, painting 100, A3 sized abstracts. Then come April when the official #the100dayproject took place, I jumped on board with painting and drawing Black women’s faces and bodies. I’ve found these practices challenging at times, especially when I’ve been traveling and had a shortage of time. But the flip side has been such a overflowing pot of creativity which has had a knock on effect with my writing and general outlook.
Now nearly 30 days into photographing my golden goddess statue, I‘m figuring out how this practice works in anchoring as well as inspiring me.
With these 100 days, I‘m carrying my beautiful goddess statue out into nature and taking instant photographs of her there. I’m using her as a surrogate for my own body in nature. She takes up space so confidently and with such a ‘don’t care less’ attitude, that her essence is rubbing off onto me.
How she behaves and holds herself is how I want to behave all the time when I’m out there in society, hustling and getting by. I want to have her self-confidence and self-awareness and magnitude. She is badass but so gracious with it. To have what she has, to be so in love with self and grateful for it is how I want to live my life.
Hopefully, from the practice and folllowing the goddess‘s lead, I could get there, well slightly there, over the next 100 days.
Posted Instagram today : 2/100 – Private Farm, Brattleby, Lincolnshire
I wrote in my morning pages today: I want to be debt free in so many meanings of the word. I want to be able to eat and eat healthily. I want to be able to love my body now. Love how my body serves me now so I no longer abuse her and I’m not waiting for the weight to drop off before I love her. #100daysofthegoddessandlove #100daysproject #the100dayproject #blackwomenmatter #blackwomensbodies #selfcare #selflove #healthyatanysize #creativepractice #blackbodiesinnature #brownbodiesinnature #womenscreativity #womensempowerment #instax90 #instaxmini90neoclassic #photography #bodylove #goldengoddess #darkgoddess #mothernature #earthgoddess #goddess
I come here today not realising how long ago I was here. It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything, updated the website etc. My head has been down. July saw me trying to get through the last days of the school term before the holidays. And then the holidays come and all I want to do is rest.
But have I got to that stage of rest yet when I let all of my load down? I’m not sure I even know what that state is never mind feels like, as I’m always carrying around something; some project, some event, some concern. So is life and I accept it rather than spend time and energy trying to run from it.
Anyway, August is here and I’ve feeling the moving at a slower pace. The sharp angles at the edge of my consciousness have softened and become hazy in a sense as they lose focus and I become more present in my here and now and relax. I realise I have some time now to focus on me, my passions and my desires, those things that make me sing from the inside out.
I’ve started my third #100daysproject over on Instagram and it’s all about the goddess and love. #100daysofthegoddessandlove.
I’ll be sharing come creations here too but initially it’s all about black bodies in nature, my body in nature and how I use a surrogate of a golden goddess statue to go places I might feel I don’t belong or won’t be welcomed. She’s pushing me into places where I might fear to go in both internal and external landscapes. I’m excited to see where she takes me. More to follow on this project in time.
For now, I’m off to enjoy these long lazy days of summer and hope to pop back here more regularly as I shift my focus and attention towards my joys and passions. Happy summer.
When I spend time with nature, I feel an infinite sense of freedom. I can just be myself, as I am in that moment, without being judged. – Claire Thompson
The other week I went back to where I grew up. My time in a small village by the River Tyne were my formative years. I grew into a woman there and then left to go to London for university. I couldn’t leave quick enough. I found the place small and claustrophobic. It was a place where everyone knew your business. And to top it all we were the only black family around for years and miles. So we stood out.
Someone once told me that I should learn from the past but not hold onto the past. At the time, I didn’t quite get what she was getting at. I nodded my head and said thank you and moved along. Going back to my roots the other week this piece of advice came back to me.
Growing up in that all white village, I learned how to fit in, I learned how to make people laugh, I learned how to make other people comfortable being around me.
That is in the past. What I know now is that it’s okay to be myself; my whole self because if somebody doesn’t like me or gets uncomfortable that’s their problem not mine. I’m not in this earth to make everyone like me. I’m not on this earth to just blend in and smile.
I know I am here to shine. To offer up my gifts to the world and those who are on the same plane can appreciate them and learn from them if they do choose.
In the past, I worked hard for you to love me. In the present, I work at me loving me. And that’s enough now.