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.
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.
Recently I’ve been asked a few questions about my practice and process with my artwork. One question which struck a cord was, what are some of your essential tools for creating?
My practice changes but what I can say is that I’ve fallen in love with mark-making while completing #100daysofabstracts, so anything that can manipulate paint on the page is something I want to get my hands on.
My trusty old disused credit card is always by my side as I use it to create the background for my visual journaling, but lately this has been accompanied by a Catalyst pebble sculptor No.6 white, a plaster’s trowel and a spaghetti scoop.
I love creating mixed media layers of papers, pencil, pastels, gesso and acrylic paint and then scraping layers away so the past is revealed.
Take the term, palimpsest which I’ve come to understand through my writing practice as a piece of paper where the text has been scraped or washed off so that it can be reused but each use is still visible, like a ghost.
I see the abstracts I’ve been creating in the same light when I create layers and scrap areas back so previous layers or versions haunt the finished piece. I’ve always been interested in how to read history and heritage in light of the present so we can learn for the future, through these abstracts I’ve been exploring these concepts visually.