In The Thick Of It

BALTIC commission process journal

“The most effective way to do it is to do it.”

Toni Cade Bambara

I set myself the task of touching the Hinterlands commission every day for the next 100 days from the beginning of July. And on the whole, I have succeeded so far in this task. Day 23 of July and I’ll be honest, this commission is filling my waking and sleeping hours, as I agonise over how to bring my ideas and concepts to fruition. How to communicate what I think, or feel or see to others. How to make that connection of understanding, empathy and solidarity when exploring the Black woman’s body with/in nature.

This is not an easy task. And I think I’ve made the task more difficult for myself by trying to incorporate multiple and diverse art form into the brief. It’s that same old story, that fear of never getting another chance like this so I have to say everything I’ve ever wanted to say on the subject all at once to make sure I get my message across. That I use this opportunity to it’s limits as this might be my only shot, my only slot, my only opportunity to speak and shine.

Of course this is not based on fantasy. This is based on fact. Did you know that just 2,000 artworks in the UK’s permanent art collections are by Black artists – most of which aren’t on display?

And even though over the last couple of years, there has been more visibility and opportunities for Black and People of Colour artists to be part of the British art scene/establishment, for example with Sonia Boyce winning the top prize, the Golden Lion as she became the first Black female artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale. This is still a rarity and not the norm.

“It seems almost ridiculous that it takes into the 21st century for a Black British female artist to be invited to do Venice,”

Sonia Boyce

We are still operating in a highly racist, discriminatory system. FACT. I can continue to keep chipping away at this. And I will. But …

For here and now, I think it comes down to confidence and belief in what I’m doing. To silence the outside noise. Ignore the internal critic and just do it. Do the things I want to do and move on.

At the end of these 100 days, I’ll have a collection of items, products, creations that I will then pull together into a whole. Into saying something about something.

We will have to wait and see. But I’m enjoying the process.

So already I feel as it I’m winning.

Late Night/ Early Morning

Visual journal 03/05

I couldn’t sleep last night. Not sure why but sleep evaded me.

I read. I surfed the net and then I just gave in, got up brewed fresh coffee (yes I know not conducive to sleep) and broke out my visual journaling supplies.

I was no longer tired or annoyed or frustrated about the lack of sleep. I was wired and alert. My energy has shifted up a gear and I was in the flow.

Outside was dark and silent. Inside was just as silent but the lights were on and I was dreaming with my eyes wide open.

I felt as if I was stealing back time from my day. Getting a head start on the day ahead by already connecting with myself before the sun was even up.

I felt I’d been given a gift to be at my journal at this time of night/day. This totally shifted my mood into gratitude and joy.

Try it next time you can’t sleep. See how you feel afterwards. Something would have shifted in the process. Guaranteed!

SnowDay/ SlowDay

The snow is falling slow and silent. The light is reflected, brighter, bolder. The trickling melt underlines the heavy silence. Under the duvet on the couch, cocooned in creativity, I’m enjoying the process of slow writing. I’m enjoying touching the writing everyday. I’m enjoying how random feelings and thoughts, ideas and experiences take shape. I’m mindfully pulling things together, holding fragments up to the light, turning them this way and that, questioning; do you fit, do you sing? Not even losing most of the writing I’d already completed for the mixed-genre memoir, and I mean lost, gone, never to be seen again writing, is deterring me or derailing me or worrying me. It’s like I’ve seen the light, something has shifted into place and I’m just enjoying the ride, not bothered about the destination. And that feels so good.