Making your mark

collections, Colour, Connections, Egyptian, Exhibitions, Making
The Braille Collection by Sam Shendi. Collectively looking like an alphabet system

To quote Mark Twain, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” has resonated with me for a number of years, firstly because my husband so clearly knows his own purpose and what he finds joy in doing but secondly because I have been very much the opposite of that. Like my shellfish star sign, I scuttle one way then retreat into my shell and then shuffle along in another direction. I have had so many interests over the years that I describe myself as ‘jack of all trades master of none’.

However, on Friday 12th July this year, my mother and I gracefully stumbled upon an exhibition at the British Library. In London, for a weekend away (my first without the boys in over 7 years I might add again) we realised neither of us had been to this tower of treasures before.

‘Writing: Making your Mark’ runs only for a few more weeks and it was a fortuitous turn that led us there. Delightfully, without children I was able to read every display case and successfully answered one of the little quizzes you could test yourself with about where types of writing originated from.

Not only have I struggled with a lack of direction in what I like to do I also need to overcome perfectionism. It is a hinderance. The desire to do things right overtakes the joy of an act. Yet somehow I have managed to keep this blog running for nine years despite my pitfalls in grammar and sentence construction.

It dawned on me in the dark depths of the British library that I have always been writing. Diaries, Journals, poetry, school work, blogging. I have dabbled in Russian, French, Japanese and now Arabic. Although, I am definitely not a linguist the idea of words, calligraphy and the art of writing is definitely something that I have a passion about. I wondered then from the belly of the building of books whether I had finally had that day. The second day that Twain deems an important one. I am declaring it almost so, for accountability perhaps. Fear that incase in a couple of months the idea of being a sports psychologist rears it’s competitive head or the family teacher trait takes a triumphant turn.

Ebony I

Writing features in the sculptors work in his Calligraphy collection and in one of his latest collection ‘Braille Branches’. This collection is one to raise awareness of environmental issues whilst simultaneously connecting with the visually impaired. The sculptures have different textures, surfaces and forms that lend themselves to touch and feel. The flat surface has raised patterns which allow the works to have a written message. When I was in the writing exhibition the section on Braille described it as tactile writing, patterns of dots or cells which can be used to represent letters, numbers and punctuation.

Ebony II
Ebony III

Something about these pieces looks ancient and futuristic combined, like modern tablets on ancient structures or alien-like forms with a primordial message. “Throughout history, we have engaged with writing in countless ways, using a variety of tools and materials. Writing and technology, have often developed hand in hand, inspiring and influencing one another. For thousands of years people have used writing to make their mark in a multitude of ways.” (Exhibition guide)

Today we use screens, express with emoji’s, communicate by text and yet I was thrilled to receive a beautiful fountain pen for my birthday halted in my endeavours to begin as I need ink! What will the future hold for the way we write, create, express and make our mark on the world. Thanks to Mark Twain I am eager to find out why and what happens next….

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Yin & Yang is life

Connections, Exhibitions, Relationships

Life isn’t always black and white. It’s technicolour, pastel, vibrant, dull, shades of grey.

Yin and Yang is the ancient chinese philosophy of dualism. Symbolising how opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected and interdependent with each other.

Rather than opposing one another two different things can work in harmony. Shadow can not exist without light. The sculptor and I, are defiantly Yin and Yang and this has taught me a great deal. Living, working and raising two children with someone who is very different is extremely interesting. It has had its challenges but the laughter far aways those and for the boys hugely beneficial.

As individuals we all meet the darkness, dip into negative thoughts, doubts and fears and yet we also have days when we think we have wings and can fly. The beauty of life is riding those highs and lows and understanding without one we wouldn’t have the other. Important to master though, is the ability to reduce the time in those miserable moments to just moments rather than days and months and years. Finding the right balance.

Yin and Yang by Sam Shendi 2019

Despite all our differences; culture, religion, language, sex, political view point, we all share essential human emotions. This is what make us human. This is ultimately the main theme of my husband’s work. To enable us to understand our shared humanity. We shouldn’t need to define ourselves with labels, groups, with what makes us the same as or identify as being ‘not the same’ as someone else.

We are all individuals, unique and yet we are all one. Duality and unity. Yin and Yang. I love how when these two sculptures face each other it is almost heart shaped. When we accept others for who they are and we can accept ourselves we would be congruence with the true nature of humanity.

This pair have been in at an Artiq exhibition in London for the past 10 days. As I write the sculptor is on the way to collect them to bring them back to the studio and also deliver a piece for the Royal British Society of Sculptor’s summer exhibition. It’s all balance.

Liverpool Plinth Winner 2019

Awards, Colour, Connections, Exhibitions, History, Public Art
Split Decision outside the church

Today is summer solstice, the longest day of the year which gives me extra time to get this written. Well, obviously not really but I am trying to use the daylight and sunshine to my advantage.

Another year which is speeding by with its struggles but also with success. This time last week ‘Split Decision’ was unveiled as the winner of the Liverpool Plinth competition, positioned on a plinth outside the Church of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas. The sculptor entered three pieces into the competition made possible by Dot-art and Liverpool BID company. It wasn’t a commission. This piece was made 2 years ago and fortuitously hadn’t been exhibited anywhere before. We assumed he hadn’t won the competition or even been shortlisted because, back in May we still hadn’t heard anything . However, there had been a little delay in the announcement and so we were double thrilled to find out that he had won it. 

Last Friday, the rain just about held off and the sculptor enjoyed a fantastic day in Liverpool with important people and press. He kept phoning me with updates. I love the photo below where he is being interviewed and is beaming from ear to ear.

 

It feels a pinnacle of the journey so far, to be on a public plinth for a year, gaining publicity and exposure. It has been fascinating reading the initial public reaction, my first response was of anger at some of the comments but the sculptor is at a point in his career where he understands that art will provoke both positive and negative feedback, both are valid. The fact that it is creating conversation, for him, is the benefit and what he is looking for.

 

content of plaque on the wall below

I am so proud and can’t wait to take the boys to see it over the summer holidays. It felt very serendipitous to me that this first very public event was in Liverpool. My father was born there and as a family we have supported Liverpool’s football team for decades. There felt a strong link and connection.

So if you are in the north of England and passing by Liverpool, take a trip round the one way system that almost made my husband late for his own event!

The sculpture is facing out towards the famous water front. You can’t miss it.

Photos taken by Andy Garrett

Portugal with Art Catto

collections, Colour, Galleries, Mother and Child

When I was younger, I think I had the illusion that if you find yourself a mate you would then happily sit in a nest together looking out at the world. However, that isn’t what I have found to be true and not what has worked for me. For us, we fly down different valleys and then return to the nest to share tales of what we have seen and heard. That way, we see more of the world and are able to share a nest as well.

When the sculptor goes gallivanting off to sunny shores for exhibitions I really don’t have any desire to go with him. Over the past few years he has been to South Africa, Germany, Belgium and several trips to London. Perhaps, once the boys are older and no longer have the same need for me, I might go but whilst they are still young I’d rather be with them as an anchor. I am not sure how honest this is. However, he is there to work not to holiday. Also, because we work together it is actually quite good to get a little break! Actually, I think I would like to go on my own solo holiday and I have been reading about how for some women this is really important. I do think I perhaps should have spent more time on self care when the boys were smaller. However, I think this has only become a really ‘buzz’ concept over the last couple of years.

When it comes to travelling my husband and I have very different approaches which doesn’t make it the most relaxing of experiences for me. At these exhibition openings he is there for a purpose. He needs to be able to mingle and chat and he does so apparently with ease but he gets so so nervous before hand. On this trip he met a variety of people from all walks of life and he tells me everything in such detail, he is full of stories on his return. It is quite amazing to think of a young boy from a small village in northern Egypt now taking his work from the UK to Portugal. This collection of work is from the ‘Only Human’ collection and is presented by Art Catto at the Conrad hotel, Algarve.

The colours of the sculpture look awesome against the blue sky and green foliage. A true picture of summer. Meanwhile, whilst the sculptor was there struggling in the heat. I was running the shop, which actually is relatively straight forward with the addition of two boys as it was half term holidays and zero sunshine. My youngest, very active boy kept himself busy using a display fake peach, from the fruit bowl, as a football and scuffing all the plinths needless to say I didn’t keep the shop open for long. Except for a day when my parents took them to York for the day I had peace and quiet in the shop. So we survived and the week went past quite quickly. Interestingly, I had a fleeting moment before he went that I wouldn’t be able to do it all. I quickly realised that this was ridiculous and that I was more than capable of being able to do it all. I have been reading and listening to various things recently that confirm that what you are thinking and believing has so much impact on what happens. On the flip side of that, I had lots of ideas of what I would do whilst I had the evenings to myself but none of them really happened and I missed the sculptor more than I would admit. He is back now and the next project is Liverpool plinth….exciting stuff!

 

Full video : What is imagination?

Connections, Philosophy, Publications

 

I feel like I have heard the question, ‘What is imagination?’ echo around my head and in my kitchen for the whole of this year. It is the same video as I posted a few weeks ago with the addition of the second half about the sculptor’s imagination. So do keep watching until the end. I think it is quite a good, inspirational, informative, educational little video delving into the working of an artistic mind.

Let me know what you think.

Mademoiselle at Sculptour Beukenhof

Colour, Exhibitions, Galleries

madame 2 outsideMadame outside

Of course, with all my brilliant blog planning, I didn’t include these glorious pictures in my last blog post (see link for last post). Mademoiselle strutting her stuff in the grounds of Beukenhof, Belgium. It has been a gloriously sunny week here and I made a deliberate attempt to get a little walk and a little run in. Something caught my eye the other day, about the healing aspect of being in nature and that we are very detached from that these days. Just being in the presence of the trees, the birds.

However, the birds seem to be using the area around our house as their toilet just now. My car is covered and this morning as I was hanging out the towels to dry, one such bird just happened to release right above me. Not very pleasant. Not very ‘mademoiselle’ !

Planning verses Spontaneity

Exhibitions, Galleries, Public Art

A busy few weeks ahead. Started this week when the Sculptor went ‘sculpture delivering’. Taking the overnight Ferry from Hull to Zeeburg, he then headed to Beukenhof-Phoenix Galleries. It was a very quick, last minute booking and it always takes me a little bit of time to get my head around these kinds of impromptu plans. We had been in touch with gallery and it was part of a plan but I just hadn’t anticipated it happening so quickly as for some reason we hadn’t realised they had an exhibition panned to start at the beginning of May.

I do like spontaneous plans for myself, however. At the weekend we went to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings at Leeds City Art Gallery and watched the Tour de Yorkshire pass rapidy, both were last minute plans. The exhibition was wonderful, small beautiful drawings in a dark blue painted low lit room. The youngest took his sketch book and smugly told me an old lady called him the next Leonardo. The cycle event didn’t have as many cyclists as I was expecting but we enjoyed it and the eldest took a rather cool slow-motion video of them cycling past us.

We also did a completely spontaneous trip in the Easter holidays and decided to go camping the day before we went. The sculptor quite baffled, kept telling me I hadn’t thought it through, but the weather was so glorious, no thinking was called for. So literally with just a tent, and a whole boot full of sleeping bags, clothes and sandwich off we went for one night to a site with just a tap and a ‘gents’ toilet at the foot of Gordale scar. The boys and I, in a two man tent equated to no sleep for me. So I must invest in another tent and a camping stove as the lack of a warm drink was also missing if we want to do a more planned out camping trip this summer.

Are you a planner? Do you plan ahead and have things in your diary for months beforehand? I really struggle with planning ahead, I find it so difficult to think ahead despite knowing there is a lot of logic to it. Yet I really feel like my whole body has a physical reaction to last minute planning when it’s not me in control. So when it is my husband is doing the ‘spontaneity’ I have a kind of small internal freak out which often results in me saying something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As I become more aware of this, I am able to try and take it all in and breathe. Realising that I can manage it and all will be fine. My usual initial thinking is that I can’t do it all when the sculptor is away. Who am I kidding! It is important to have flexibility and movement in our plans and our thinking, especially when we live with others.

Ultimately it is also a really important life lesson to learn that things don’t always happen the way we want them and that we are not the ones in control. As much as we can plan things they may not happen the way we plan them. When we were watching the tour de Yorkshire we were talking about what time the cyclists were due to pass us. They had worked it out according to what speed they might travel at. However, learning to be in the present moment teaches us that things occur when they are meant to. The cyclists passed at the right time. These sculptures arrived in Belgium when they were meant to. Life happens now, not in the past or the future.

However, I am awaiting glorious images of sculptures in situ, outdoors in Belgium to upload here before I post- planning it to be Friday, we shall see!

Here they are, all to plan.

image of madem. and sam

Nefertit outside 1Nefertiti outside
dunce utside 3dunce buildingdunce outside 2dunce outside

& -the lessons I have learnt this month.

Colour, Connections, Making, Steel

&1

‘Ampersand’ 2019. Sam Shendi

My husband was laughing that everyone would know I was poorly the other week because I posted about it on Instagram. Well now even more people will know because I am writing about it on WordPress. However, I have only a few followers so it is not as though thousands of people will know. What is interesting though is that my post had a few more likes and I am aware that the more you divulge about yourself or share yourself, the more likely you are to increase your followers. This is where I struggle because although I would like more readership and followers on some level. I am so introverted that the idea of posting images of myself of  doing stories where I am in them feels totally against my natural inclination.

&

The reason I posted about being poorly was that it timely coincided with the sculptors evening photoshoot. Sods Law. I was literally bedridden with a fever and sore throat whilst the boys bounced around in the attic space, which we converted last year. They sounded like a herd of elephants. So I spent time being still and overcoming frustration on several levels. However, the positive is that we have more images to use for social media and galleries now.

&

I look back and wonder if I almost brought about my own illness by worrying whether I would still be able to run next month. It is often so difficult to be content with what is happening to us in the present moment but it is the most important time to lean into the situation and learn. So my stillness sparked off doing some meditation which I have done off and on before but never with a regularity, which I was able to do being in bed. I realise now that as much as it is good to move and energise yourself, it is also as important to balance that with stillness. Stillness in a productive way.

&

The more I read and learn, ‘Fear is being in a state, ‘not of right mind’. I have no reason to fear the future. Whether I will run or not, whether x,z,z will happen or not.  Fearing the future and worrying only prevents us from focusing on the present and actually makes us suffer twice or once unnecessarily. When you start to understand your own mind, you understand the world. The world is simply what you believe it to be.

&

On a completely different subject my husband taught me a knew word when he introduced me to ‘ampersand’. It is quite amusing that he told me it, my husband’s English has improved over the years but I sometimes have to give him spellings or slightly adjust his pronunciation of words. Sometimes I wait a while because I quite like the funny turns of phrase he comes out with like, ‘learning curve” used to be ‘learning curb’. Anyway, I learnt that the alphabet used to have an additional letter, did you know? x,y,x,&. When reciting the alphabet they would say ‘and per se’ so eventually this ran together to become ‘ampersand’.

The argument about never beginning a sentence with ‘and’ is because, to introduce a sentence with ‘and;’ expresses an incomplete thought but it is a stylistic preference rather than a grammatical rule. So you can use it for dramatic or forceful effect.

And so that is why I have punctuated each paragraph with the ampersand sign. So also not quite starting each sentence with and.

&

so finally this piece is finished. Usually the sculptor is fairly fast with the process from inspiration to creation, to carving to painting but this big boy has had a longer journey. It was initially created last year and has taken some work moving it and then smoothing it and finally painting it and then having the final photoshoot.

&

to give it some scale:

to give scle to &

Husband

Connections, Egyptian, Relationships

Two years ago I wrote about ‘The date’ -(read to find out more about how we met). April 12th our anniversary. Today we have been married 13 years. However, I don’t know whether this date is as significant as the day we met which was in May, sixteen years ago. Sixteen years feels more significant than thirteen. It is crazy to think it is sixteen years since we met, part of me feels only a bit older than that! I don’t know if it is because I married an artist or an Egyptian but that makes no two days the same. I always thought you needed to find someone who was like you, your tribe. That there was some notion of finding another person and finding yourself. Instead I found someone who was the complete opposite of me in most things but he makes me laugh, at life, at myself and together. The verb of husband means to conserve resources and use them frugally which is exactly the opposite of what the sculptor does! The word ‘husband’ comes old norse for house dweller. In fact we bought our house just slightly before we got married so we did become house dwellers around the same time we became husband and wife so I suppose he became my husband thirteen years ago.

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” 

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

the kiss sold

‘The Kiss’ 2013 by Sam Shendi. 

 

Love is not the easiest journey and ours has its struggles and tests along the way. I have realised marriage is mostly a discovery of yourself rather than of the other person. So staring into each others eyes isn’t going to get you anywhere but having a direction forward is probably a better outlook.

Often as adults we are wounded. Wounded either by others or by ourselves. We can quite easily slip into a  daydream of remaining that way and thereby allowing past behaviours to continue. I have found that being with someone who is candid and open about his thoughts and feelings has helped me to unravel my own, slowly.

I think growing up I always believed in the idea that there would be ‘one’ but society, life, the current world we live in makes you question that idea. I was always looking for love. It definitely felt like we were destined to be. He is my guiding light.

 

sam profile

Imagination

Digital Art, Philosophy

This has been months in the making and just the first half of a short film about how my husband views imagination. The second half will go into more depth about how his imagination as an artist/sculptor works. Take a look and let us know what you think!