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.
After a really busy November, I was looking forward to a quiet December. It has been a slower pace to last month, but there has still been deadlines and events that I’ve needed to prepare for and attend and reflect on.
So past mid-December already, and I just feel as if I can slow down again now. But I say this but I must have been resting in some kind of way because I went back to my art journaling practice yesterday.
My art journal practice is different to my visual journaling practice only in the fact that I use fewer words and these Black women always seem to show up in the midst of the page somehow.
Here we have another one, who showed up yesterday out of the darkness that was developing on the page. And isn’t she delightful. She’s got a twinkle in her eye and a wish in her heart.
To be in the studio yesterday, playing on the page, I even completing a handmade zine which will be on display in the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, was a joy and much needed. As it signalled to me that I’m back to listening within. That I’m back to creating for me and just for the hell of it. That I’m coming home.
Thank you, Sheree. Now continue to rest. And create.
I might have disrupted the page already with paint, or marks or collage. But this was done to eradicate the blank page. And this was done with that one purpose in mind and then left to see another day.
I come to the page not knowing what I’m going to do. Will I make a mark with paint, pencil, piece of paper, what? I just know I need to start.
I might want to cover the white spaces. I’m drawn to colour. So using colour excites me. So I drop a dollop of paint, red maybe and then I know I need to move it across the page. But how? Finger, card, roller? Each brings a different texture to the page, each brings a different coverage to the page.
So now I’ve started but still I have no idea what I’m doing or where this piece is going. But I start responding to the mark that has just gone before. What do I need to do next to work with this last mark or interruption? What would speak with it? What would speak against it?
If I have no idea, that I pick up a pencil and allow my hand to loosely move it over the page, making circular marks. This gives me a moment to think, to look at the page and see what is missing, what is needed.
But when I say thinking, I don’t mean conscious, logical thinking. Let’s call it musing or dreaming instead. As my mind is empty when I’m in the creative process. The outside world falls away. My cares and worries fall away. I’m just focusing on the page in front of me. And not in a concentrating way, or a hard stare kind of way. Just like my hand is holding that pencil, in a loose kind of way.
I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing. But I’m listening. Being attentive to what the page, the piece now coming together wants from me, wants next. One mark, then the next, communicating to each other and then the next.
At some points in the process, I’m up close, working on just one corner of the page. At other times, I take a step back and allow other parts of the page to come into my line of vision. At some points, I fall in love with just a section of the whole. I give it some care and attention. I bring it up and out further. I make it sing, because in the process, I sing through it too.
At this point, the rest of the page needs, deserves this care and attention so I start listening elsewhere. Keep coming back to the places I love and savouring their presence.
I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing but being open to the dance of possibilities. I make myself vulnerable to the process as I feel this it the only way I can move forward with the process.
I come with no expectations, no desires to make pretty art.
‘i said to trauma, “i am so much more than you.” ‘ – Kai Chen’s Thom, I Hope We Choose Love
The final prompt last night in Honouring Our Wholeness with @olwen.wilson had us wondering about what seeds we could plant if we consider how we are so much more than our trauma. This is what I created. ‘Discovering New Landscapes.’ Trauma is a very familiar territory for me. I’ve been carrying around these fragmented pieces of land in my body for years ever since I was 9 years old and my dad died of leukaemia. Then my sister died. Then my mum died. One traumatic experience after another builds up layers of scar tissue, thick and hardening, from the bones out. Me thinking I can protect myself from pain hiding within the rolls of fat around my body. My whole body is a landscape of accumulated pain, suffering, abuse, self-abuse, rejection, hate and cruelty. And yet, last night in this gathering of women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, I traced golden lines around my trauma. I remembered my mother and her body, like the pomegranate, full of seeds, but who’s garnet juice ran out as she miscarried after having me, which reminded me of my miscarriage before Miss Ella came along. But from these seeds within and without, new life, new power can be nurtured and brought to fruition. New landscapes of grasses and wild flowers can be tended. In time. In space. In body and mind and soul.
Consider this. You might have an idea that takes seed, but as it grows and develops it blossoms into something amazing which you could never envision when you started. One such seed, which was planted way back in June 2018 during the Iceland Creative Retreat with Olwen Wilson, is finally coming to fruition today.
Honouring Our Wholeness , hosted by Olwen Wilson and myself is a self-care visual journaling retreat for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour. This is time away from the busyness of our lives to create in community within a space where we are recognised, safe and nourished. We will take inspiration from our connections with nature and ourselves.
Imagine really being seen, heard and acknowledged!
Over a six-week period, we plan to meet on Zoom on Sundays, April 18, May 2 and end on May 16, 2021, from 1 – 4 pm ET/10 am – 1 pm PT/6 – 9 pm GMT.
During each three-hour session, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to play in our visual journals to really dig into the joy of creating for ourselves. Visual journaling is a simple but effective practice which has seen me through so many ups and downs and life experiences. And I’m so excited to be sharing this practice with Olwen through this offering.
Both, Olwen and I have immense experience of expressing our thoughts and feelings through our visual journaling practice. Reaping the benefits of listening to and observing our interior worlds and environments around us. But the power and wisdom of this practice we can’t keep to ourselves as we constantly share our joy of visually journalling with others through workshops, retreats and social media.
Anyway, I’ve said enough. Head in over to the Honouring Our Wholeness information page where there’s further details and how to apply. We’re accepting applications right the way through to 26 March 2021.
How much is this going to cost you?
Honouring Our Wholeness , a virtual retreat specially created to provide an empowering and rejuvenating space for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour is a unique offering which comes with a unique price tag.
Price for participants – £0/ $0 ( Thanks to funding).
I find this card difficult to read. I think it is a warning towards becoming narcissistic as well as falling into the comparison tap. This month I returned to social media and I wonder if it was for the right reasons. I must say I’ve been happier without it. We may look into a mirror and see ourselves, but we can also look at others and see ourselves reflected back and maybe not like what we see there. There’s being honest with ourselves as well as distorting the image. The mirror is all about self-perception and this can be a construct. This image is a shard of a mirror, a portion which can become a trickster if allowed to gain purchase between me and my true self.
In the poem by Juan Jimenez, ‘I am not I’, the translation reads,
I am not I. I am this one walking beside me whom I do not see, whom at times I manage to visit, and whom at other times I forget;
I attempt to remember myself, commune with myself, the one inside through my creativity. The words and images I work with each day are my practice of holding up the mirror as well as letting it fall, and not relying to heavily on what I see or others see, but on what I feel, and hear when I pay attention and listen within.
I appreciate this card’s appearance more now than before because we all need these checks and balance to stay on our own path.