“It’s not what an artist does that counts, but what he is.’ – Pablo Picasso
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.
A studio is a sanctuary. A studio is somewhere you can escape to. Escape from the noise, from all the other commitments. The stresses of the world.
Here in a studio, you are able to immerse yourself in inspiration and creativity. It’s a personal space where you can be yourself, enjoy the freedom of taking risks and daydreaming without interruption.
Over the years, this has been what this space has been; Living Wild Studios. These studios were created so I’d a space online to explore my creativity and myself. A safe space where I’d be able to pick up pen and paper, paintbrush and glue and not worry about what was about to pour forth. I felt secure in my ability to explore and learn from it. I’m so grateful for creating these studios for me, first and forth most. But over the years, I’ve grown to love being able to share them with you.
Now that I’ve moved homes after a separation from my husband of nearly 25 years, I’m fixing to created another studio, closer to home, a physical studio to call my own.
Over the years, I’ve tried to create this space through different homes and means. At one time, I had a corner in a sitting room, another time I took over the spare room once the eldest went off to Uni. At another time, I had the privilege of being able to pay for a purpose built studio along a train platform. But that didn’t last.
I’ve lived for the last few years between rooms in a flat as a studio. Always having to move my resources and supplies as the room was needed for something or someone else.
This is my studio as it stands now. Needing a lot of work. But I can see the potential of the space as I attempt to zone it into the different art forms and headspaces I occupy when I create. Of course the bike isn’t staying. It can’t stay. But I think as it stands in the middle of my studio now it’s an indication of how I’ve been treating my creative genes for the past few months. A dumping ground as well as neglected and discarded.
This room will be changing next week. Check back into see the studio take shape and become a working wonderland of curiosity and fun.
We take so much for granted in our lives.
We tend forget that life itself is a gift.
A gift which we have the potential to make amazing.
We owe it to ourselves to take the time and space to become more aware of what we already have. And appreciate it.
What I’m grateful for at the moment:
1. A roof over our heads.
2. Food on our plates.
3. Our health as a family.
4. Friends to care for and be cared by.
5. Broadband to support me to create new work opportunities.
6. Pen and paper and magazines to cut up.
8. The morning sun. The morning rain.
10. My hoping heart.
Many moons ago, I went to Washington State to visit a new friend, Sarah Spaeth, who I met while picking grapes on Monteleone in Lazio, Italy. That was over 10 years Aga now and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve had some adventures in the States, over here in Scotland and also Iceland.
While I was in residence with the Jefferson Land Trust, where Sarah was the Executive Director at the time, I fell in love with Fort Walden which was just down the road from where I was staying. It’s a national park with the sea, beach and trees and a creative centre, called Centrum.
I remember Sarah talking about this centre while in Italy and how much I would love it there and to come and see. She was right, I felt right at home there. And when I took my family over there, we spent plenty of hours hanging out there. It was my dream to sometime return and do a writing retreat there, or attend their summer writing program.
The summer writing program is just like going back to college for a week. Writing workshops in the morning and afternoon and then evening readings. To be immersed in writing for a whole week, with other writers, bliss. Obviously this year, it’s had to be cancelled. So instead they’re offering a Summer Writing Intensive but virtually. The next best thing. And something I could so attend.
So I am, starting tomorrow, I’m going to writing college and going to spend the week in poetry and fiction workshops. Go to some readings in the evening, but totally live the writer’s life and I do so from the comfort of my own home. And what’s even neater is that I’ve been given a scholarship to take part for which I am so grateful.
So apologies not is you don’t see me here next week, as I’ll be soaking up the writing atmosphere and vibes from across the pond.
I had the pleasure of being part of the Prompted By Nature podcast this month. It was good to have a chat about my relationship with nature and the work I’ve been completing within the region, with Earth Sea Love, offering opportunities to Black, Asian and ethnic minority women and girls to enjoy experiences with/in nature.
We talk about amongst other things:
* The importance of BAME visibility and representation in natural spaces and the marketing of nature-based brands as well as the need to motivate a new generation of black women leaders
* The financial side of accessibility in nature
* Land as holding trauma and associations with enslavement
* Nature as a space of oneness
I’ve just listened to the podcast for the first time and I was smiling along with the conversation, as it is so good. I share a lot and there are some words of wisdom that we could all take away. Check it out here. Thanks.
Black earth darkness. Daffodils in greens.
The big house on the hill shrouded by trees.
You at the window watching for my advance.
You always waiting alone to let me home.
A wound of grief, dark as the night,
swells in her hands like sycamore leaves.