Summer is a distant dream for many of us living in the northern hemisphere (climate change aside, that is – only 3 days ago I was out and about in short sleeves!). Indeed, it's now 2 months since I returned to London from my trip to a hot and humid U.S. and, I've been meaning to share the highlights since. What better timing than when I need a reminder of how good it feels to have the sun kiss my appropriately darkened skin.
My 5-week trip was a glorious respite from what has been a very challenging year, in so many ways (more on that another time).
(Corset by Evie Nix)
It was a time for perspective: I find being away from your 'normal' environment great for seeing things clearer.
I managed to get out of the city a couple of times which helped even more. I visited the Catskills mountains for the first time and it was powerful being surrounded by so much green! And when is the last time I saw a pitch black sky? I hope to go there again one day, for a longer dedicated retreat.
It was a time for nurturing relationships – something which has truly suffered as I've gotten lost in the hustle. I got to spend time with old friends and family – not as much as I'd hoped and I didn't get to see all the people I wanted to but, I'm grateful nonetheless.
(Top left and bottom right at Cienfuegos which I highly recommend for some delicious food. Top right, brunch cocktails with my mother at Bedstuy's Peaches. Bottom left, with my bestie Alli at the WBLS fest)
The main reason for my trip was to visit my mother who retired while I was there. I got to spend a lot of quality time with her and learn new things about her, our relationship and myself.
I got to feel a little bit like a tourist. Although I once lived in New York, for 5 years, and although I've been back to visit since, there are always new things to discover about any city. And it helps when you're playing guide to someone who is less familiar than you! That would be Lusungu. Check out his Creativity & Noise Instagram to see how his T-shirts, such as the African Warrior print above, got to see the sights!
(Middle right: toga skirt by Bestow Elan)
There was plenty to inspire and not only did I enjoy a lot of art, design and craft (interestingly, not within museum/gallery walls but rather in public places and smaller curated spaces). I was hugely inspired to make and make I did, the results of which have convinced me that I need to go as far as developing a daily practice of making.
It was always a delight to see Africa. It's people and it's creative influence. The Afropunk festival was a particularly fantastic people-watching experience: diverse, beautiful people, decked out in their colourful and crazy (in a good way) finery. And great music to boot!
(Top: section from a Tinga Tinga painting in a private collection; embroidered indigo fabric from Mali at a fantastic boutique called Love, Adorned. Middle: African masks on sale outside the Whitney Museum of American Art (the irony!); Bolgatanga baskets on sale in Chelsea Market. Bottom: carved wooden African combs in a private collection; Okun beachwear men's shorts at Goose Barnacle in Brooklyn.)
Brooklyn has changed so much since the first time I set foot in it, over 14 years ago. Some for the better and, some with consequences that are difficult for many who have made it their home for generations. Still, taking in my beloved Brooklyn is always a pleasure.
I had set myself a challenge to record every day of my trip in pictures. Those here are just a few – see the full set on Instagram. All pictures by yours truly.
It was a summer of making! See some of the things I made here.
- Home Around the World: Madiba, Brooklyn, USA
- Last Week in Pictures: Tropical Hints
- Project Stories: 'African Cities' Greeting Cards (made this Summer)
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