When being black, female and sensitive just gets too much…

Earlier I went to the South London Gallery in Peckham to visit their current exhibition ‘The place is here’. It’s actually a decent exhibition with a collection of videos, photographs, mixed media pieces and archives relating to prominent black British art and artists in the 1980’s and 1990’s, at the time of Afrocentrism and riots.

I was there for a fair bit as I wanted to really get a sense of the space and the content. [context – I used to study black British art of this particular period as part of my history of art degree at SOAS…SOAS represent!! 🙌🏾]

There were artists I knew of like Eddie Chambers, Kieth Piper, Sonya Boyce, Mona Hatoum and Rasheed Araeen. So it was great to see their works close up! Although it didn’t help that when I arrived staff there decided to walk up near me and randomly have a convo about their personal life, like ‘Hello? I’m trying to engage with this video, not your life!’

I digress.

It was after when I exited the gallery that a very panic-stricken woman came up to me whilst I was texting on my phone and asked for money.

I usually just say sorry and keep going (keeping it real here). But she caught my attention so much I couldn’t ignore her.

She was in a right state. She begged for £6 to help her pay her council tax bill as well as food for her children. “I”m suicidal! I tried to take my life earlier. I had to have sex to buy this [points to her carrier bag with a bread loaf in it], and he cummed in me and I have to get tested for AIDS now [and a lot more rambling that I couldn’t figure out because she was distressed]… I’m suicidal, I’m going to kill myself!!”

Wow.

“Don’t do that please”, I firmly said because who knows? She was that manic, that she may have just jumped in the road.

“Look at my feet, they’re all dirty… [mumbling again that I couldn’t make out as she was distressed]” She then took off her right shoe and revealed some dutty feet.

“It’s okay, you don’t need to do that” – This is going far now.

I gave her £2 in the end – “no I need £6” – I still gave her 2 quid and she was off.

Walking up to my bus stop, I was a mixed bag of emotions – what should I have done? Should I have just said sorry and walked away? Should I have googled a helpline for her? Should I have said “Everything is gunna be alright”. This lady looked Caribbean and distressed and I really felt for her but I still felt like I was being conned. But then, I just got out of an exhibition all about the struggles of British black people in the U.K. especially London, and here I am confronted by a real life example. I couldn’t help but to do something for my British black women community. But still.

I just felt helpless.

I knew my money probably didn’t go to her bills, but then this woman doesn’t need money. She needs a support system. People who have her back. People who can help her and won’t oppress her for having brown skin and curly Afro-Caribbean hair, for having outspoken opinions and a different form of banter. She may have had a history of mental health problems or just the struggle to have basic human rights is what made her this way. I don’t know. All I know is this shit ain’t right. And yes it’s upsetting. Today I really felt all the troubles and frustrations that people with brown skin have to endure in London. Sometimes it gets to me more than others and I do have a heavy heart…This shit ain’t right…

 

What would you do?

 

100 days – DONE

Finally after 100 days (originally 100 consecutive days) I have completed my little project #100daysofminicreations!!!

My main intentions for this project were to:

  1. maintain consistency and regularity
  2. continue exploration of artwork, and to
  3. capture a highlight or feeling of the day.

Link to my blog post – “100 days of mini creations!” in August 2016.

Did I do that overall?

  1. yes, somewhat (it’s a marathon not a race)
  2. yes, for sure
  3. yes.

Apart from the checklists, the start of this project was really a pivotal moment for me in my life. It was the start of my public art life.

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I have always been ‘into’ art and have always appreciated it – my family and friends will tell you so, but it wasn’t until this time that I made an active decision to make myself known to the world as an artist. Prior to that I was too afraid,  I had a lot of self-doubt about labelling myself as an artist, the pressure, the self-criticism (and still have, a little – I’m human right?) about my abilities, not being good enough or if I should just stick to the grind of a ‘proper job’.

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But, you know what, I’m glad I quit my full-time job. I took a major risk, and became unemployed for 2 months (scary), but I don’t have regrets and I already feel in a much better head space for it. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have randomly done this project.

It was a really good chunk of time for me to really reflect and digest the ebbs and flows of my movements, my thought processes, who I am as an artist, who I am as an introverted private person and a contributor to social media, the power I have to influence people, what mini creations were more popular than others and why, what I did when I thought ‘nah i’ll do it next time’, what opportunities I got out of it (which I did get some!), the wonderful support and positivity I got from people, the people I know who really were loyal. For me mostly, it was also the confidence. The acceptance of myself and who I am and my ongoing learning, creative journey.

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Lastly I wanted to say a big massive thank you for all the people who really engaged with my creations and commented and who will probably be reading this! I am really appreciative and thankful for your support 🙂

Stay blessed,

Meron xx

 

 

 

 

Getting help.

I’ve been reading this new kindle book lately called: ‘Make Your Creativity Pay: How to Earn Your Living from the Things You Love to Do’ by Pete Mosley. In one his wise pages, he mentions getting either a coach or mentor and the benefits and differences having one makes.

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I’ve never really thought about having a coach or mentor because I thought first I need to do this alone, and figure it all out by myself, to prove some sort of worthiness, I guess. But I find that I’m naturally connecting with people and actually wanting to get their advice on how to do things, and how they have done things as a step towards their right direction – whether it’s emailing artist friends I know or having a quick cup of coffee and a chat.

Recently I’ve been following illustrator and soul guidance coach Hannah Marie Dudley  through her Facebook group as I actually met her funnily enough through a meetup group for creative coaching! There’s a lot of things that I find really true and can resonate with on a deep level and we have so much in common in terms of our goals and our vibes. We both want to help people and use art to do it and both creatives. She also lives in my neck of the woods, so it’s a good start 🙂

I had a short consultation session with her yesterday I’m positive that this is going to be such a great help. She’s got the drive and experience I need to hold me accountable for things which I lack of course. We will be starting our journey now together and I’m so grateful. I feel like this is meant to be! I even started back meditating again this morning (which was one thing on my list to improve)! Yay!

Check out her Facebook group The Freedom Soul Seekers – ‘Awaken the light within’ It has great tips, thoughts, giveaways and a nice community of like minded people to chat with.

I will let you know how it goes 🙂

Peace x

HerStory : Hidden Figures

I just watched the 2016 film ‘Hidden Figures’ which encaptures the inspirational stories of three African-American women mathematicians and physicists in 1960’s America. (It’s a true story based on the book by  Margot Lee Shetterly ‘Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race’).

Oh My Gosh.

Of course it was a little romanticised and honey sweet a times but just amazing to watch. I love Taraji P. Henson from ‘Empire’ anyways and also Janelle Monae but this was just  so great! There’s even teaching resources for school curriculum! (https://twitter.com/hiddenfigures)

Before watching this (or hearing the hype) I never really knew the history of NASA, especially the involvement of African-American women in the early days, and especially within the STEM fields, so it was a real eye opener for me. I had to google the three ladies:

Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn,

afterwards to find out more about their lives. It also just goes to show how much history is HIS (‘the white man’s’) story – that is, how much history has concealed and lied and twisted the truth for the benefits of ‘the white man’. What I mean by ‘the white man’ is any man who is privileged – mainly bankers, politicians, judges, CEO’s of mass market corporations that do nothing to society really but extract greed.

It is very important to assess and re-asses the role of stories in our lives. The last year or so I’ve been very aware of stories (usually through media), and learning more about how stories are an integral part of the human race. It’s a legacy, a past and a present time. Stories can include facts but we (I) must be careful to not take things at face value so easily. I will definitely be exploring this concept on stories more in my art and personal work.

This film has definitely added the figurative gasoline to my fire and awakened a more spirited side towards feminism and civil rights.

I also caught myself saying ‘I wish I was strong like those ladies’, and ‘I wish I had an insane gift’.

I had to think again. Nope. ‘I am strong’ I say to myself. And I have the potential to be more brave and courageous. I have a strength that is different, more quieter than others. I have the potential to still make a change. I have an INFP personality so I’m the rare type of personality in the world you will discover and I am quiet and introverted. But I am also strong in my own way.

I’m showing this to my future children (biological or not)!

P.s. I’m happy (pun intended) to see Pharrell Williams co-produced and was in charge of the music for this film.

Stay blessed!

x

Rant #1

 

When you get so ambitious, but your skills and experience don’t quite match up to your visions…yet.

It’s bloody frustrating!

You’re told “go fish” but not told/realise how hard it is to wait for the fish and keep the fish and then cook it.

I feel like to give up sometimes. But then quickly realise how foolish I’m being.

So THAT’s why patience is a virtue.

PATIENCE.

‘Tis what I need.

and some tea.

 

 

 

 

 

Be honest now.

Earlier on my Facebook Artist Page post, I made some decisions to free up my time a little more and put quality over quantity rather than do a  million things at once – which I always end up doing – because my ambition usually outweighs my skills. Just keeping it real.

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I had to be really honest with myself, which let’s face it, I’m the eternal idealist so this raw honest discussion with myself does escape my reach at times!

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I recently watched Shareefa Energy talk about her new poem called ‘Duality’ in which she  talks about her relationship with her poetry and being true to yourself and the journey you take.

“Day in, day out we meet people, people are like ‘yeah, I’m cool, I’m okay’ and nobody really comes with an honesty about how they are feeling.”

When talking about her poetry, she goes on to say:

“It’s about allowing people to resonate with your art…just learning to be more authentic with yourself and with each other…”

“…I’m part of this so called conscious poetry scene or whatever it is, and I think a lot time people like to play it out like we’re all just light…but the reality of us as human beings, we’re very complex…I am sometimes light and I am sometimes dark”.

She’s so right!

I’m at a point in my life where I’m trying to establish a style or personal stamp of my artwork that’s true to me and how I am as a person. And it can be kinda daunting at first to really put it out on the line, especially if, like me, you’re still prone to self-criticism, and self-judgement. But then on the flip side, it’s so liberating to finally be like ‘YES, this is me love it or hate it I don’t care!’ There’s a sense of ownership and pride that you’re being real and who ever is interacting positively with you, is genuine.

I also randomly came across this point in a documentary about Eminem of all people where he was commenting on when he first released his debut album ‘Infinite’ and it flopped. He mentions after a lot of style changes and drama going on in his life and talking more about macabre subjects like drug overdoses and not trying to please everyone with what he thinks should be heard, then that’s when people started paying attention to him and taking him more seriously in the hip-hop world:

“It seemed like as soon as I stopped giving a **** about what I was saying, people started giving a ****. It was like a reverse affect, like **** you I don’t care if you like me or not – oh we like you now”.

It’s funny how these things are presenting themselves to me as a sort of signal.

I’ve always been about listening to people’s stories and point of view. And it really does give you motivation and sense of profound depth when Truth is being exposed and presented to you, especially in random ways. I hope I can share my profound truths to, but for now, I’m blogging and trying to show this in my artwork.

 

 

Shareefa Energy is a spoken word artist, poet, international woman and facilitator. She currently works with a charity organisation called Stop Watch giving workshops to the community about knowing your rights when being stopped and searched.

Her new single Duality is out now to embrace. Go to www.shareefaenergy.com or visit her FB page @shareefaenergy and Instagram page @shareefaenergy

 

 

What a year! Trials and tribulations of 2016

2016 has been an AMAZING year for me which ever way I look at it – positively, in terms of my own success and quite shocking in terms of the world around me. *insert tragic world news here. Now that I think of it, it’s as if society’s shock waves are like a trigger to do more, to act more, to create more. I actually started off this year on this blog with the aim of writing at least one post every month because I usually let blog pages die. I can officially say I DID IT!

*Brexit, USA presidential elections, Syria, Unlawful black killings, DAPL, death of Prince,etc.

 

One important thing I learnt from this year was to take risks – to not be afraid to expose myself and my art work.

 

In the end I found it paid off (sometimes even literally).

I went from just trying to keep my blog alive to creating merondubale.com; pushing my artwork on Instagram, making networks; creating business cards; selling some of my art work; collaborating with great people; not to be afraid to use the term ‘artist’; setting up a Meetup.com women’s group twice a month; travelling to two countries and more importantly taking risks to go part-time, from a regular 9-5 Monday to Friday job, to follow my passions.

I’m going to share a personal thing—I set myself up a goals sheet that I put on my bedroom wall to focus on daily and keep me in track which I haven’t shared with anyone (apart from my boyfriend who I’ll give credit for giving me this idea):

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This was my original plan but things changed a little so it looks more like this:

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Things changed AGAIN, and now looks more like this:

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And once I finish writing my post I will write a new sheet for 2017.

It’s not been easy though…

Nothing, felt worse than knowing I was in the wrong type of job. I used to have constant anxiety, and intense feelings of not being where I wanted to be – even though my former colleagues were so supportive! I just knew I had to do something about it, and with good advice, I made the decision to leave, even though I didn’t have a job lined up straight away.

When I left my job in August, I was unemployed for 2 months and really stressing about whether or not this is the right thing to do: pursue my passions as an artist and facilitator. At the time I was really low. I felt like I may have made a big mistake. But with the support of my boyfriend, friends and reading up on ‘self-help’ books and positive messages, I refocused and pushed through.

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I have always questioned and explored the essence of who I am and what my soul purpose is in life. I feel, now, more than ever, myself and others are tuning in to this core element and becoming ‘woke’ – which is an amazing thing.

Staying true to who I am is one thing I will carry on into 2017, despite my insecurities and my challenges.

 

I’ve also learnt to listen to my intuition, my gut feeling – literally and metaphorically. It’s proved my right in so many occasions when I’ve not listened to it. I know I can tell when things aren’t quite ‘right’, but I don’t know how to resolve it. I need to act. Not ignore it but act.

I’ve checked online for Chinese and western astrology forecasts, as a I do every year, and I have to say it’s been fairly accurate! I’ve checked for this year and it makes COMPLETE SENSE. This (Chinese) year is the year of the Fire Rooster, which for me basically means hustle like Beyoncé more than ever and success will keep coming.

Let’s do this!

M x

A little can go a long way

It’s been a hectic month leading up to Christmas with lots of exciting plans, projects and social visits going on – thank you God and the universe – but yesterday was a one of my highlights of that day.

I was on my way to meet my amazing friend. I was about to cross the road when a woman asks me politely “Excuse me, could you help me cross the road?” Of course I did. I assumed she was in her 70’s and had a shopping trolley/carrier with her. She took my arm and I started having a conversation about where she was from, where I was from etc. She was from Hong Kong originally and told me she had trouble walking sometimes because of her bad knee. She needed to sit down so she found a chair outside a pub. I told her to go inside where it was warmer but she didn’t want the fuss. I felt bad for leaving her there but I did have places to be and there were some men sitting near to her so I was sure they could help.

Call me a romantic or an idealist but those few minutes really touched my heart.

And credit to her for asking for help because sometimes pride can get in the way.

Her name was Lina.

Thank you Lina for that moment.

 

🙂

 

NEWS: She’s going to a new home!

My painting ‘Head in the Clouds’, 2016 has now been sold!

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And it’s actually my first painting to be sold to be honest. Which is why I’m making a big deal. I’m really grateful for the connection and vibe and also for Instagram – let’s keep it real, it opens many conversations for a lot of artists especially as well as other users.

So yes she’s going to a new home. It’s a little bittersweet. I quite liked having her around but I’m glad the home she’s going to is a good place.

Things are going well this month. 😀

Mad appreciation.

I’d like some more of that please universe.