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.
A few weeks ago, when I was in the thick of my separation and wondering how I was going to get through the rest of 2020, I made a commitment to myself to designate October as a creative retreat month. I’m not going anywhere, but I am protecting my time to retreat from the world and outside commitments in order to focus on my creative practice.
Due to circumstances, I’ve allowed things to get lost in transition. Focusing on what brings me joy, like reading and writing and creating haven’t been top of my list for ages, it feels. So protecting October, my favourite month of the year, my birth month, as time and space to re-engage with my creative projects and start some new ones felt right for me.
Only a few days into October, and I was inspired in a poetry workshop to attempt #thesealychallenge. This challenge is to read thirty-one poetry books or chapbooks in the thirty-one days of August. I know it’s October but I’m coming late to the party. But I feel this is just what I need to relight my fire, put pen to paper and write poetry.
So far this month, I’ve read 5 poetry collections and chapbooks. What I’m doing while reading is also collecting words, single words which I like the sound of, or I find are being used in new and usual ways. Words that stir my interest and create a reaction.
What this reading is doing is inspiring me to write again. So from just reading other people’s work, immersing myself in the world of poetry again, I’ve created 6 new poems. So I’m going all the way this time, and trying for 31 poems by the end of the month; 31 poems in 31 days.
This has already gotten me through a block, a fear that was starting to take hold of me that I might be only able to write while in crisis, while in an unhappy state. But by producing something over the last few days, I’ve now put that fear to rest. I’m back, reading and writing, writing and reading.
That’s me. The smaller one in the photograph, looking off to someone outside the frame and smiling with no teeth.
I think I might be four or five and this is when I probably loved myself completely. Loved how I looked and talked and walked. Loved my whole being. This little girl is long gone. But searching for that love she held for herself is not over yet. It can be reclaimed and this is what I’m practicing now as I try to heal; to fall in love with myself again.
Step one involves positive affirmation. Saying and repeatedly saying nice things, good positive things about myself daily. What donI like about myself? I’ll share share 10 with you now:
1. I am a smiler
2. I like my energy and spirit
3. I am determined
4. I am creative
5. I am resourceful
6. I like my generosity
7. I am powerful
8. I empower others
9. I am funny
10. I am love
For the past few weeks, I’ve been itching to come to the canvas. To crack open the paints and create the images that have been streaming through my head usually when I put my head down to sleep. But in all honesty, I’ve been too mentally and emotionally exhausted to pick the paintbrush up.
Then I cut myself some slack and said to myself, you don’t have to get the paints out, just pick up a pencil or pen and draw something. So I did. And after the pencils came the charcoal and then the chalks and oil pastels and ink. Each stroke of line moved onto another and another medium to pick up and use. And before I knew it I’d created a body; a black woman’s body.
To support me in this task, I’ve also signed up to Connie Solera’s Painting the Feminine again, which is always a rich space to create images from daily. Looking forward to exploring where these black women want to take me this year. Stay tuned.
There’s been signs but I’ve chosen to not pay attention, to not listen. But now I’m taking heed and acting accordingly.
Coming down our street there was a van packed up with the sign ‘By-Safe’ splayed across it’s backside. Okay I get the message.
I pulled the Lizard card today from The Wild Unknown, Animal Spirit, oracle deck. The Lizard is sensitive to the subtle, almost like a sixth sense; hearing what is yet to be spoken, seeing what is yet to be seen.
The Lizard’s energy and essence can be quickly worn down by big crowds, lots of travel, bright lights and over stimulation. The Lizard has shown its face today to tell me it’s time to pull back, to go within, seek my inner artist and start that creative project.
As I said, I was feeling the signs. This week saw me cancelling planned events and activities in relation to my nature projects. I’d started to self-isolate and have the inclination to draw my family in close. Not just for our own safety but for other people’s safety too. How do I know that I’m not carrying the virus? It’s amazing how much one person can stop the spread of the Coronavirus by self-isolating sooner rather than later.
Usually, the belief is what can one person do? In this case a hell of a lot. I’m working from home. I’m turning inwards and listening to my soul, my inner wisdom and I’m hanging onto my creativity.
“Giving clear and consistent information to public at the right time on #coronavirusis vital. Governments’ media strategies must reflect the importance of that. This is not a run of the mill political issue. @scotgov will set out advice to the public in an orderly manner.March 15, 2020”
Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) on Twitter
Here is the U.K. there is mass panic. Panic buying. Panic spreading of misinformation. Panic induced inability to act.
Our U.K. Government doesn’t have a fucking clue and it is down to voluntary created community groups to look out for and support the vulnerable individuals in our society who might succumb to the corona virus and die.
I’m trying to keep things on an even keel and reduce the risk of catching and spreading this dangerous virus to all those I have been or come into contact with. But it’s difficult when this menace is unseen and deadly.
I’m moving towards self-isolating myself via working from home and having virtual meetings. But this is all useless if I continue to send my child to school where we all know illness can spread like wildfire.
Our Government continues to fail in taking action and issuing recommendations because it’s first priority is economics rather than human lives. It is ill-prepared to handle this pandemic and our NHS is under financed and resourced to take the ongoing and on coming strain. This is not a pessimistic mentality. This is our reality.
I send out virtual hugs and love today as I wish you to stay safe and vigilant. Look out for each other and make sure those who are vulnerable and alone are not feeling alone and that they know you are there for them. This is the time we pull together and be there for each other.
Kielder Forest and Water. Partaking in training to become a volunteer who will Osprey watch over the summer this year. It is an interesting gig, learning about the birds as they come back to the forest after wintering in Senegal or The Gambia.
Kielder has become the home for 7 mating pairs of Ospreys for the abundance of space and fish to raise fledglings. Our job will be to set up the scopes for viewing the nesting pairs. To talk to visitors about their behaviours and raise the profile of our birds as they work together to build up their chicks for becoming independent birds over the summer months.
There are also Osprey watch cruises upon Kielder water to check out all the nests along the reservoir.
In the past, I’ve volunteered for certain things, indoor jobs, like manning phones for charities, running creative workshops, talking to kids about writing etc. I’ve never volunteered for anything out in nature as I never thought I would be of any use. Or there was the underlying feeling of not belonging there. Bit by bit this self-limiting attitude is changing.
Today’s objective was one thing and one thing only; to walk. I’ve been feeling as if I’m standing at the edge of a deep black hole and that my footing was slipping. I know I’ve been doing too much lately and have been feeling the burn. So I know where the feelings are coming from but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with or hold at bay.
So I made a promise to myself today to put myself first. And walking was part of my self-care objective. Walking for miles is a good way to root me back into my body, back into my present and out of my head and worries and that black hole.
Over 10000, 10k and 1000 calories later, I also made the decision of taking another social media hiatus for February. I’ll continue with my #100daysofblogging here because I’ve made a commitment to myself. However, I need to spend some quality time alone with my own thoughts and dreams and as usual social media has become a distraction. I’m also feel as if I’m falling into that comparison trap again and when that starts to happen I know it’s time to depart.
So I’ve created a creative residency for the month of February at home. I’m dedicating the next month to following my creativity on whatever journey she wants to take me.
So the last day of January saw me listening within and paying attention and acting on what I felt. And I already feel so much better for it.
Of course this website is going to receive the benefit of a concentrated desire to share. Let’s see what await us!