Come Along For The Ride

Journal Love Club

I just had this brilliant idea. I just shared it on my Patreon Page .

Have I mentioned here that I go on a residency tomorrow to the Cornwall Zine Library@ Fish Factory Arts?

Anyhow, for this coming week I’m going to be in residence and I thought it might be a good idea to share the experience over on Patreon with my supporters.

Hop on over if you want to be involved.

Let’s Start with a Poem

Extract from my recent presentation for the Women and Wetlands Panel Discussion

When Petrified Trees Stand Up and March Into the Sea

I carve out solitude to wander
wide open shores

sanddunes, pebbles and
wooden limbs

Submerged
a forest of trees
so tall they flowed
above the clouds

what we cannot control,
we destroy and call it progress.

We advance like the tide
to claim what
we have
no right to claim

concrete blocks,
seaweed and dead seals,
emerge from
frothy waves
and marram grass.

unseasonal storms
uproot ancient trees
while manmade
concrete lines
remain in tact
in place in defence

here a legion of
foreign bodies marched
to expand an empire,
build a wall
then leave it to moss.

Bizzing dragonflies,
shrubs of wax mirtle
and the coconut vanilla
scent of golden gorse

Some day soon
all this will be gone,

gorse, grass, concrete wall,

washed away like blood
as the sea returns to the source,

returns to where it belongs.

There’s a small hamlet, Low Hauxley nestled behind sand dunes along a long and quiet stretch of sandy beach on the Northumberland coast.
Here along the high tide line stumps of an ancient forest are visible.

It is believed the stumps were preserved by peat and sand and are believed to date back to more than 7000 years and are the remains of Doggerland- an area of bogs, marches and forest that connected the British Isles to mainland Europe.

Archaeologists have also uncovered animal footprints and it is believed red deer, wild boar and brown bears would have roamed ancient Doggerland forest.

These petrified trees. This really blew my mind.

My name is Dr. Sheree Mack. I’m Creatrix : she who makes.

My practice manifests through poetry, storytelling, image and the unfolding histories of black people. I engage audiences around black women’s voices and bodies, black feminism, grief and healing, nature, identity and memory.

I advocate for black women’s voices, facilitating national and international creative workshops and retreats in the landscape, encouraging and supporting women on their journey of remembrance back to their bodies and authentic selves. This journey is supported and recognised by Mother Nature.

I’m the founder of Earth Sea Love, which is a social enterprise, offering opportunities to People of the Global Majority living in the north east of England to develop a deeper connection with/in nature.

The Earth Sea Love Podcast has developed out of these experiences and aims to change the narrative around who has a right to have a relationship with nature. I’ve recently been writer in residence for Northumberland National Park Authority. A black-led nature project I will add. At the moment I’m Creatrix in Residence for Hadrian’s Wall part of the 1900 years festival.

My Practice is a Healing Practice.

The Practice of ::SLOW:: is how I engage with my work and the world. Living within White Supremacy Culture, we are indoctrinated into certain principles and practices which benefit the few rather than the many.

Leaving aside racism and the systematic destruction of Black, brown and indigenous peoples, White Supremacy Culture, perpetuates the pursuit of perfectionism, product over process, and quantity over quality, to name but a few.

This means that the majority of us live our lives at speed, with a greater sense of urgency, with feelings of never being or doing enough, resulting in reduced contact to ourselves, our intuition and inner wisdom.

Slowing down supports me on my journey back to self and ultimately self-love and healing. Being and walking with/in nature teaches me how to slowdown and pay attention and just be.

Nature shows me that there is an abundance rather than a scarcity. It is through these practices that I fell in love with nature.

Nature and I are connected. We are one, therefore falling in love with nature, I fell in love with myself. This in turn means I turn up in life, in connection with others not only as a better version of myself but in a better place to offer love to other people.

Women and Wetlands

Last night I was part of a panel discussion which tackled the subject of women and wetlands.

Crag Lough, seen from Peel Crags, Hadrian’s Wall

I was asked by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett at Northumbria University to be part of this event and share my work around my residence at Northumberland National Park and my explorations of peat bogs.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect about this event or what I was going to share. But on reflection now, I’m so glad that I was invited to take part because I learned so much about peatlands within the UK, around the world and the special place they hold within the global climate crisis.

So much of my language around nature and the environment has been formed through white supremacy culture which has been biased on colonialism and imperialism and capitalist consumption. And of which I am at great pains now to unlearn and find a new language or it is just a re-memory of the language of my ancestors where there is no separation between us and nature.

Something that was raised last night by Khairani Barokka, which was totally new to my knowledge and way of thinking was that within indigenous communities gender was much more fluid and diverse. The binary system of male and female/ he and she which we take as a given now, as the norm, is a construction and part of the colonist program.

That the idea of “the coloniality of gender,” which might have seen the binary gender system in Europe but was not the case for indigenous populations around the world who were brutalised, moved off the lands and eliminated through genocide. This is going to require more reading on my part but it will be completed eagerly as it’s more evidence of how this system to live and breathe is a construct of power for a few white people over the rest of us all.

I share an extract of my presentation here.

roots, culture, identity virtual art exhibition, 2022

Roots, Culture, Identity Virtual Art Exhibition, 2022

It gives me great pleasure to share a virtual exhibition which I’m part of.

Running from May until August 2022, you have the opportunity to visit a virtual exhibition to coincide with the TUC Black Workers’ Conference, 2022.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the beginning of this exhibition which came out from one of the recommendations of the TUC Stephen Lawrence Task Group, the exhibition aims to provide an opportunity for Black, Asian and ethnic artists with a focus on young people, who are marginalised and face discrimination in the arts and culture sector, to showcase their work.

For years, I’m been meaning to submit my work for consideration, however due to other commitments, or not even having the finances in order to ship/ take my artwork down to Marble Hall of TUC Headquarters, London, I’ve never completed the application process.

However, with the pandemic offering a different way of working and exhibiting artwork, this year, due to an extended deadline, I was able to find the time and space to submit something.

The theme for this year’s exhibition is Collective Action for Race Equality. The
inspiration for the theme comes from the horrific impacts of racism we face today globally
from climate injustice to the disproportionate impact of contracting and dying from
coronavirus.

I submitted photography that I felt reflected my connection with nature as well as the work I carry out with Earth Sea Love; to offer opportunity for developing a deeper connection with nature for People of the Global Majority (PGM). I took Community/ Collective Healing as my focus and hope my images offer moments of tranquility and healing, grace and hope.

Photo walk : Come with me to Marden Quarry, Cullercoats.

After Covid in February, I committed to moving my body more in March. I felt tired and sluggish and beat. So I needed to shift my energy. Fast.

One way I committed to this journey was to set myself the task of walking every day. And for some reason it had to be 4 miles a day. I think this roughly worked out as my 10,000 steps a day. Now this is moving from 0 miles to 4 miles overnight. My body wasn’t happy.

What I found soon enough was how much more energy and joy I was experiencing in my day once I got out the door and walked. I walked every where for every conceivable errand and then some days I just walked because I promised myself to do it.

March came and went into April, and I continued the walking. Some days not quite reaching 4 miles while other days far out passing it. I noticed I was walking faster and at first this worried me. I used to think the faster you walked the less you would notice. Not the case.

I noticed the faster I walked the more in tune with my body and surrounding I became. My senses were more alert, colours were brighter, scents were sharper. I was more present. I felt amazing in my body and moment.

When I think I’m not in the moment, not in my body, in my walk then I slow down and start taking photos. I’ve performed photowalks for years now and I’m so pleased to be bringing them back into my practice now.

A Photowalk is just as it says on the tin; you walk and take photos of whatever takes your interest a long the way. I see something first and then stop and then see it again as I take a photo of it. Sharing it here with you, not only brings you along on my walk but also allows me to see whatever it is again and relive the moment, re-engage with my body and memory of the time. It’s a gift that just keeps on giving.

Today, I’ve upped my mileage to 5 miles a day moving forward. Of course I ended up doing far more, over 8 miles, but that won’t happen every day. If someone had told me back in February that you’ll be out every day walking just for the hell of it, I would have laughed as I was feeling pretty rough with and after Covid. But here as I up my time outdoors, living in and through my body, I’m so pleased I made this commitment to myself.

Look out for more Photowalks as the year progresses. I just love the beauty that can be found when I’m open.

Hopping Mad Today

visual journaling 02/05

Morning pages: visual journaling/ journaling done for now.

I like to get to the page first thing, the first thing I do each day after going for a pee and brewing some coffee. This is the ritual that is in place. Not every day can I fulfil this ritual, but most days, yes.

I find when I come to the page in this state, my night dreams are still hanging around me. I can still grasp onto them and explore them on the page. What do they mean? What is causing friction in my subconscious mind?

Today’s ramblings where not difficult to decipher as they relate to an email I received yesterday evening. I must bring back the ‘no email checking after a certain time’ rule. It just disrupts my calm flow state of mind when I do read an email late at night and allow it to work it’s way into my brain just before bed.

Anyway, I dreamt on it and was trying to find people who were in agreement with me about it. Hence waking this morning hopping mad as I’m not sure anyone did eventually agree with me. But I stand my ground this morning and go with my gut as she’s never seen me wrong.

It’s just tired really, having to point out yet again how the way someone is treating someone else is not okay. Maybe it’s okay to them and maybe no one has mentioned this to them before and so they continue to treat people this way. But common decency man, it costs nothing but goes a long way.

And maybe I’m taking it personally, maybe they act this way with everybody and not just with me and not because I’m a Black woman and viewed as less than. Maybe maybe maybe. This is how I’ve spent years making allowances for other people’s behaviour and treatment of me. Giving them the benefit of the doubt at the detriment to my sanity and my treatment of myself.

But no more. No one owes me nothing and no one owns me. I do not have to pussy foot around worried about causing offence because they’ve already caused offence to me so that shows me that they do not respect me and they do not see me. Therefore, you do not deserve my allowances, my excuses for your behaviour, or me trying to make you feel/ remain comfortable.

I’m not going to be rude or disrespect them but I will be speaking plainly to them. It will be interesting how they respond when I tell them my truth.

But all in good time, as another one of my practices is ::SLOW:: . Just because it suits someone to send an email at such and such a time, it doesn’t mean that it suits my timeframe and mind set to reply immediately and engage with their requests now. On their timetable, at their sense of urgency.

All in good time means all in good time for ME. Which isn’t at the exact moment as I think it’s another coffee for me and another few pages of visual journaling as I’ve got some shit to work out still.

Ah the beauty of visual journaling. Welcome to my world! See you tomorrow!

Close up of visual journaling 02/05

We’re Moving Into May!

Visual Journaling 01/05

My oh my! How this year is flying.

Things haven’t been going as planned over here in Sheree land and as such I find myself trying to reset my year. Each new month becoming my New Year.

But what I’m finding with each reset is that I’m disallowing the experiences I’ve had each month. I’m ignoring the progress I’m making each month, if any I may add. And I’m denying myself the joy and the pain of just living here and now.

So now we’re in May, I’m not resetting anything. Time is flying by but I’m living with it. And most of the time I’m happy within it too.

I live a blessed life really because most of the time, I’m in control of my time and how I choose to live it. Lately, I’ve been prioritising myself and my needs and wants. and I’m not even going to apologise for if this sounds selfish as I know when my needs and wants have been met on a daily basis, I turn up in the world for others and Mother Earth in a much better place. T

his means I show up with more love, patience and compassion for others. And that has to be a good thing for them, me and the world.

So I’m here at the beginning of May to thank myself for turning up here every day for the last two months, stretching my creativity. First with March and The Healing Properties of the Seas and then with April and a poem a day.

I’m also here to thank you for turning up here too and reading this. Liking it and even commenting on it. Thank you. You are appreciated.

I think I’ve gotten into some kind of groove now with posting daily and I don’t want to stop the momentum now. So what is happening in May? What’s going to be appearing here?

I think it’s time to share more about my visual journaling practice, hence today’s image. I partake in this practicing daily almost like breathing. And it sustains me just the same. So let’s move into May celebrating this life giving practice.

I hope through my sharing and discussion of visual journaling that you’re inspired to dip your toe into the practice also. It doesn’t have to be grand and it’s certainly not planned. I turn up to the page and remain open to what unfolds.

I’ll use the month of May to share what does unfold with you here. Hope you stick around for the journey. Thank you.

Creatrix in Residence @ HOME

visual journaling spread

The rain pours down, the temperatures drop. And we’re inside.

Miss Ella has Covid again so we self-isolate. We do our bit to keep the infection rates down even if no one else does.

Forced to stay in door could play on my mind, could make me frustrated and resentful if I let it.

What I’ve been doing is getting creative. Creatrix in Residence @ HOME is me allowing my imagination to wander while my hands are busy. Even my body as I continue to knock out my 4 miles a day of walking, indoors. It takes a whole heap longer than when outdoors. So I mix things up with a bit singing and dancing to Silk Sonic.

Things could be a lot worse. But poor Miss Ella. Just getting better after her stay in hospital and now this is just another set back. She’s taking it well as she gets creative too with video games, you tube, make up and singing.

Apart from writing a poem a day for the month of April here, I’ve also been making a ZINE a day as I’ve been accepted to present at the Edinburgh Zine Festival 2022 in May. Getting all my creations ready to share, swap and sell hopefully.

Hopefully, all will be well by the time this comes along as Miss Ella is going to be my assistant, sharing in the non- profits.

National Poetry Month 2022

It’s April!

Happy Poetry Month.

I know March was all about me diving deep into The Healing Properties of the Seas, 2022 Project.

But now it’s April, I’m going to focus on my poetry writing.

April has traditionally seen me taking up the the NaPoWriMo – 30-poems-in-30-days challenge. So why change something if it isn’t broken.

Of course you’ll still be able to get your seas fix on the blog for the rest of 2022. But now I must turn my hand to poetry.

These last few days of March saw me take a much anticipated trip to London. It’s been a time filled with walking and creativity, taking in exhibitions and musicals and nature.

I plan to start off the poem a day practice with a review of the images I’ve taken of the artworks I’ve visited since down in London. So ekphrasis poetry is the order of the month.

Ekphrasis is a device used in poetry or even a type of poetry which takes a piece of artwork as it’s starting point. It involves a detailed description of the work of visual art as inspiration and then who knows where the inspiration will take the writer. But the piece of art was the seed and that recognition is credited usually with the phrase ‘ After such and such.’

I start today and I hope you will join the journey.