Beware of the Trees

Beware the trees, they said. A sure way to your soul, they said. It was far too late for me to listen. The trees had me at their straight green-grey hello. At their bare scrunched heads, balled up waiting for fresh buds. They had me at their mossy sides, their swaying branches and deep, ancient roots.

Beware of the trees, they said. Too late for me to listen. Or to care. The trees have already laid a deep furrowed path through my wild, wild soul.

The Goddess is back out, inside

She sits on my desk, in the spare room. My makeshift study/ studio/ freedom space. She’s a constant. A talisman. A charm. I sit sometimes when inspiration is lacking and just watch her as if waiting for her to move, to say something. But in all honesty, she doesn’t have to say anything as she is always communicating to me, with me, as she is inside me.

She is the voice of wisdom. She is my intuition. She is the quiet whisper, sometimes scream, that guides me along this path still. The small nudges and major cramps that emanate from my gut when I know something just doesn’t feel right. When I know a difficult decision, usually the right one, has to be taken. Now.

She sang out to me these past few days, singing, Lean into me, take me out again into the landscape of your home. You may be self-isolating, but let me help you look upon your home as a playground. As a space full of potential and inspiration. Let me help you make the best of a situation.

Here take my hand and I will show you the way.

Black British Art – 001 – Sonia Boyce OBE

This has been a long time coming. I first mentioned this series here.

{Sonia Boyce, She Aint Holding Them Up, She’s Holding On (Some English Rose) (1986), Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Photograph: © Sonia Boyce. All rights reserved. DACS 2013}

Sonia Boyce, OBE, born 1962 in London of Afro-Caribbean descent has been vocal in championing Black British Art since art college. She has been at the forefront of changing the perceptions of British art, shifting the focus and belief away from whiteness towards multiculturalism being one of the first Black British women artists to be exhibited in Britain.

Frequently, using her art, be that photography, collage, film, prints, drawings, installations and sound, to explore themes of race and gender, Sonia Boyce takes the time and space to represent her experiences of being a black woman living and working in Britain.

Elected to the Royal Academy in 2016, in 1988, she became the first British-based black artist to have a show at the Whitechapel Gallery. She is currently a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London.

I’m attracted to Boyce’s work because I can see myself within it. Far too often, I look at British art and see beauty personified in white flesh, female and slim. It’s demoralising as well as destructive to my psyche to not see myself reflected. With Boyce’s work, I see my struggles as well as my beauty and joys. I can relate and for this I am grateful as well as admire Sonia Boyce greatly.

Lizard

There’s been signs but I’ve chosen to not pay attention, to not listen. But now I’m taking heed and acting accordingly.

Coming down our street there was a van packed up with the sign ‘By-Safe’ splayed across it’s backside. Okay I get the message.

I pulled the Lizard card today from The Wild Unknown, Animal Spirit, oracle deck. The Lizard is sensitive to the subtle, almost like a sixth sense; hearing what is yet to be spoken, seeing what is yet to be seen.

The Lizard’s energy and essence can be quickly worn down by big crowds, lots of travel, bright lights and over stimulation. The Lizard has shown its face today to tell me it’s time to pull back, to go within, seek my inner artist and start that creative project.

As I said, I was feeling the signs. This week saw me cancelling planned events and activities in relation to my nature projects. I’d started to self-isolate and have the inclination to draw my family in close. Not just for our own safety but for other people’s safety too. How do I know that I’m not carrying the virus? It’s amazing how much one person can stop the spread of the Coronavirus by self-isolating sooner rather than later.

Usually, the belief is what can one person do? In this case a hell of a lot. I’m working from home. I’m turning inwards and listening to my soul, my inner wisdom and I’m hanging onto my creativity.

The Pause

“The meaning of the Inuit word “qarrstiluni” conjures up a striking image: “sitting together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.” Teju Cole shares the word in his On Being conversation, and I’ve been drawn to it in the months and weeks since COVID-19 began affecting communities across the world. The pandemic has exposed how interconnected and interdependent we are as humans. Everyday practices, like handwashing and covering our sneezes, have become the most basic duty we owe to friends and strangers alike. And we’re finding thoughtful ways to care for one anotheramidst the tumult.”

The Pause, the newsletter from On Being . Subscribe now for more.

Her Hands

1. Her hands. I remember her hands. Calloused and worn. Working hands. Like mine. Her nails were pretty. Always had some length on them. Even if discoloured yellow. I blame the onions. Or tobacco. Her hands would take mine and squeeze them. She was there for me the squeeze said. The patting wrinkled light beige coloured hands. I’m here for you, they said.

2. I can just still catch her voice saying Sheree. It was a Geordie twang and not. It had an undertone of music. Of laughter. Of a joy for life. It was beautiful. Like she was; inside and out.

3. I haven’t forgotten her potato fritters. She made the best potato fritters. Golden discs of potato fried hot until edges crisp but centres, soft and buttery. I do make them now. In the oven. For health reasons. But they’re not the same. Nothing. No food tastes the same as she made.

4. I remember the beat of her heart. The way she’d pull me in for a cuddle. I could lay my head on her ample chest and listen to the hearty rhythm. How my arms circled around her warm plump frame and how I just melted into the moment, into her flesh. I was home and nothing else mattered.

5. I haven’t forgotten the arguments. The harsh words said. The way I dismissed her wisdom, her thoughts and feelings because I thought I had grown. That I knew it all. I’d lived in London. Had a profession. A standing. She returned to her village as a widow with two kids, needing the help of her parents. What did she know?

6. I know she ran from grief. Or is that me?

7. Grief is just love with no place to go.

8. But I remember her hands. Warm and calloused. And always giving.

Osprey Watch

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.

I look forward to start and share my experiences.