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.
Many moons ago, I went to Washington State to visit a new friend, Sarah Spaeth, who I met while picking grapes on Monteleone in Lazio, Italy. That was over 10 years Aga now and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve had some adventures in the States, over here in Scotland and also Iceland.
While I was in residence with the Jefferson Land Trust, where Sarah was the Executive Director at the time, I fell in love with Fort Walden which was just down the road from where I was staying. It’s a national park with the sea, beach and trees and a creative centre, called Centrum.
I remember Sarah talking about this centre while in Italy and how much I would love it there and to come and see. She was right, I felt right at home there. And when I took my family over there, we spent plenty of hours hanging out there. It was my dream to sometime return and do a writing retreat there, or attend their summer writing program.
The summer writing program is just like going back to college for a week. Writing workshops in the morning and afternoon and then evening readings. To be immersed in writing for a whole week, with other writers, bliss. Obviously this year, it’s had to be cancelled. So instead they’re offering a Summer Writing Intensive but virtually. The next best thing. And something I could so attend.
So I am, starting tomorrow, I’m going to writing college and going to spend the week in poetry and fiction workshops. Go to some readings in the evening, but totally live the writer’s life and I do so from the comfort of my own home. And what’s even neater is that I’ve been given a scholarship to take part for which I am so grateful.
So apologies not is you don’t see me here next week, as I’ll be soaking up the writing atmosphere and vibes from across the pond.
I had the pleasure of being part of the Prompted By Nature podcast this month. It was good to have a chat about my relationship with nature and the work I’ve been completing within the region, with Earth Sea Love, offering opportunities to Black, Asian and ethnic minority women and girls to enjoy experiences with/in nature.
* The importance of BAME visibility and representation in natural spaces and the marketing of nature-based brands as well as the need to motivate a new generation of black women leaders
* The financial side of accessibility in nature
* Land as holding trauma and associations with enslavement
* Nature as a space of oneness
I’ve just listened to the podcast for the first time and I was smiling along with the conversation, as it is so good. I share a lot and there are some words of wisdom that we could all take away. Check it out here. Thanks.
The day dawns bright after the rain. It’s an opportunity not to be missed. Now we’re into October, how many days like this will we get to enjoy.
The man with his two dogs says it’s 4 degrees. I ask him, the air or the sea as we grin like school kids on an outing to the seaside.
The temperature of the air. The sea is much colder, it’s bitterly cold. He says.
And I agree as I take to the sea and the waves crash in and recede with a dragging undertow. No chance of swimming today. Too wild. But I’m fine just jumping waves and squealing. I get all childish with the sea. All inhibitions go out the window and pure joy takes up space in my whole being.
5-10 minutes of jumping and waves bursting over my head and I’m ready to meet my day
I’m not writing.
Writing that sentence makes me feel a whole lot better. I’m a writer who’s not writing. I know it happens to us all so I’m trying to be gentle with myself. It’s the summer holidays and my routine has gone to pop and I’m okay with that, I think. But there’s still a part of me who’s thinking I’m a fraud because I’m not writing. I’m even finding it hard to fill a page while doing my morning pages. I blame routine but I know it’s because I’m tired and I’m not allowing myself that much needed rest because I think I should be writing and doing( project related stuff).
Read the rest of the essay over on my Patreon Page.
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.
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.
Just popping back in here quickly to highlight that I’ve created a new page all about my practice of visual journaling. For the past 3 years, this visual and creative practice has been my lifeline. It has not only got my head straightened out but it has also been my playground where big dreams have been declared and explored and come to fruition.
I do look upon this practice as magical. And the special thing is, everything is inside me waiting to come out. Through the use of paints, images, photography, collage, drawings, stamps and stickers, I get to tap into the magic that is inside of me, all the time, each day. No wonder I go all evangelical when I start to talk about visual journaling and share this practice. As it has quite literally changed my life.
Check out the new page in the portfolio and keep checking back as I continue to update it as well as develop the new ecourse to go with it.
A couple of evenings ago now, I attended a life drawing class locally. This was the first time I’d attempted something like this. But in all honesty, I wasn’t worried about going along. And once I got there, I totally enjoyed it.
It was weird at first though as when I got there, I recognised one of the women standing up taking. I thought to myself, I didn’t know such and such as an artist. It was only when the introductions were made did I realise she wasn’t an artist but the life model.
It could have been an embarrassing night after that but it turned out to be very liberating and interesting. Within that setting, the human body naked became nothing to be embarrassed about but became something else. Something, an object for want of a better word, that I was attempting to capture a likeness of on paper. It wasn’t flesh but more so angles and curves, light and shade.
It was good practice for getting lost in the flow of creativity. To feel the texture of the paper, hear the scratch of pencil as well the rubbing of charcoal and stains appearing everywhere. My senses became heightened and I was present in the moment. It was awesome.
Would I return? Yes I would but I would probably go along to an open session rather than a tutored session. As I didn’t go along so much as to learn about drawing the human form ‘properly’ with the right proportions. I went along to play and just let loose. A chance to try something new and free up my creativity. I’m not practicing this to get anything right. I’m doing this just to express what I feel or see or think. That is always right to me. For me.