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’ve been resting up this weekend, after feeling exhausted and a bit depressed. I leaned into my creative practice as well as self-care practices such as fresh air, walking, yoga to make sure I finished the weekend in a better place.
I sat on Sunday evening creating a little gift for anyone and everyone who has been enjoying my sea posts throughout this time of quarantine. I’m taking a break for a while from social media and probably blogging too as I rest and go within. I’ll still be completing my poetry and my #100daysofblackwomen but just not posting them anywhere publicly. All the more to share when I do return.
In the UK, we have another 3 weeks of the coronavirus lockdown. I want to use this time to tap into my inner wisdom more and ramp up my self-care and self-love practices. I want to come out of this darkness a better version of me. Transformation takes time and effort but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.
I leave you Seaswim,the first of many zines that I’m planning to bring out of the studios during 2020. I hope you enjoy this beginning.
1. My DryRobe – This is a must have for when I’m going on a sea visit. I just slip my cossie on underneath and I’m out the door. Sometimes if the sea is far out, I’ll wear this robe right up to the shoreline, snuggled into the furry lining, soaking up the last few ounces of warmth before I throw it off and dive into the cold North Sea. And then I know it’s waiting for me when I come out, to soak up the wet and keep off the wind and rain and get me all warmed up. This was a gift to me from me and it just keeps giving. I love my DryRobe hugs.
2. My footed mug. – It was a special red, hand planted one with birds from Anthropologie but I broke it the other day. I was mighty upset. Making do with this little beauty from Tesco’s for now. But hot coffee on repeat. Just the ritual of making it, popping the kettle, rinsing out the cafeteria and putting in two scoops of decaf coffee and pouring the water on and allowing it to brew. The smell in the kitchen, the rising steam. Small simple pleasures.
3. My turquoise plush blanket. – When I left my last teaching job they brought me a gift voucher for Debenhams as a goodbye gift. I took it, I think £30, and bought this comfort blanket as it was a luxury item and I felt I’d just gone through a few months of hell teaching full-time and deserved a little treat in my life. This blanket is super cosy and has been my hygge go to ever since then.
4. Books and more books. – Growing up I used to hoard books. I used to buy them thinking by just having them in my possession I would be intelligent and knowledgable. I now know I have to read the books to gain their insight and message. And this is what I love to do. Anywhere really. Sitting room, bedroom, the bath is a favourite. And I love my physical books but hells bells if I’m going somewhere and packing is tight, then Kindle books will do for me. I just get lost in books, and inspired and cheered up.
5. Paper and pens – Yes I like my fancy journals and fountain pens. But when it comes down to it, just give me any scrap of paper and a pencil and I’m happy. I can then create. Lists are my go to in times of trouble or doubt. If I can brain dump whatever I’m carrying around in my head and body onto that paper, I feel better in the process. I can get things organised, I can let down my load and walk away feeling lighter, calmer and happier.
What is your Bliss List for April? Give me 5 items or more. just follow your bliss and see what you come up with. What makes you happy? What makes you glow from the inside out?
I was talking to a dear friend, last night via FaceTime. We hadn’t connected with each other for months. Our schedules just didn’t coincide. But now, as the outside world slows down, we managed to connect and spend an hour or so catching up. With her living out in Washington State and me in the North of England, over the last ten years of our friendship, we’ve managed to stay in touch pretty well. Sometimes in person too.
We both feel that what is happening in the world now, with the pandemic is awful and worrying. But we both recognise a shift in the pace of life, that this has brought about too. Closing our doors, literally to the outside world, not going to work, not socialising with people face to face, has meant a change in behaviours. We’ve gone within and have started to appreciate all those little things that were right under our noses all along. We’ve started to experience gratitude for the lives we’ve created and are still able to enjoy.
For me, this time has given me the space to purposefully lean into my creative practice. I’m not pushing it, striving for productivity like I have in the past. And I’m not beating myself up when I don’t happen to complete my to-to list for each day. I mea, whenever have I managed to complete that never-ending to-do list? But still there’d be that voice at the end of the day berating myself for what I didn’t accomplish instead of congratulating myself on what I did do. Now I’ve taken my foot off the accelerator and it feels weird but it also feels right. I’m settling into the self-isolating with my family, and trying to take better care of myself. I’m fixing my own oxygen mask first and that feels weird but right also.
Things are not good at the moment. Especially when I do venture outside for the essentials and see the empty shelves in supermarkets. Also when people seem to not understand the concept of social distancing and still stand up on my arse as if we’re in a packed train carriage. Step away from me, man. I want to shout. Use some common sense. When I have to be out there, it soon annoys me with how some people are reacting, and my panic levels start to rise as a result. This is when I choose to walk away and find some space in nature. Walking outside is still possible and so is going into the sea. Thank goodness. Small mercies, I’ll gladly have for now. Out in nature, watching the waves, listening to the birds, seeing buds bursting on branches, my mind soon calms down, my breathing deepens, and my smile reappears.
So yes, things are not good at the moment with the Coronavirus but things could be a lot worse. And I think things, the situation and the way society operates at the moment, are going to get a lot worse before better. Here in the U.K., each day sees an increase in the number of deaths from the virus as well as the number of confirmed cases. We haven’t hit the peak yet, as we’re lagging behind such countries as Italy and Spain. And this isn’t me wishing the worst on us or anyone else. This is me being real.
Spending time catching up with my friend, was needed and beneficial for us both. Yes we caught up with what’s been happening, but we were also able to see each other. See that we’re okay and send out hopeful vibes that one day we will meet again. Who knows what the future holds. Who knows how this social isolation will end, if ever. But we can have hope and we can make the best of a bad situation. Gratitude helps immensely here, believe.
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.
Walk down by the falls, in winter, catch the scent of wet clay upon the breeze of indifference. Dullness is broken by golden catkins, with a hint of blush. Light and soft prickles flutter, hanging long, delicate and strong. Underneath, collect the hazelnuts but pay a mind to the grey squirrel with a rosy back, who probably needs them more than you. Share and connect as we are all kin. We are one.