Think Pink

collections, Relationships
PINK BUST WITH SAM

Sam Shendi with Sculpture 2018

Last night I was sandwiching together a ridiculous number of cakes to make a rainbow coloured stack and cutting up the most pink sparkly sugar filled rocky road. I sent my youngest off to school this morning with them all precariously balanced in a tin for the Christmas fair. I am not sure how they will survive, if they will look appetising or how they will be served.

However, in the middle of my cake art, the sculptor returned from the studio but quickly went back out for a photo shoot. Luckily the boys were very happy occupying themselves, as at the moment bedlam seems to occur at bedtime. The eldest was busy doing origami and the youngest creating his own floor pool game with golf balls and a long plastic stick from the axe, which was part of a Halloween costume. So everyone was being creative in their own way.

The sculptor said he’d stopped doing carving for several reasons but I knew it wouldn’t last long. A new collection called, ‘The philosophers’ has been created this last month. I love the white on white in this image, it is reminiscent of sculptural busts of old. Topped with pink like candy. I am not sure yet if each one has  its own name but this one is very pensive to me. Sweet thoughts.

So wishing you a deep and meaningful December. I will leave you to ponder.

“Art is not about itself but the attention we bring to it” 

Marcel Duchamp

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Sculptor in a painting

collections, Old Masters, Relationships

painting

Lucca Indracollo’s painting reminds me of a still shot from an Italian mafia movie. The figure, like a God father surrounded in mysterious, cloaking cloud. Powerful and yet with head tilted down and hands in a prayer like position there is an air of submission and of reverence, maybe regret or remorse. Despite the dark mood there is no fear or threat. Yet there is something devilishly handsome, as though he can raise his head up in a second and capture you with a captivating look. Perhaps this is all easy for me to write because the model for the painting, so realistically so, is my husband the sculptor. Lucca kindly sent us a photo of the painting that was in exhibition, Face Value, in London this past month. I obviously was captivated by it as, very excited   we decided we had to have it. The sculptor is a bit unsure how it will be having a painting of him up on the wall but I really wanted it and well, at least there are no pineapples that’s all I can say. (See the portrait the sculptor did of me!)

So as I am writing this is the showroom on this grey, wet, miserable, cold Thursday afternoon the door squeaks open and a delivery guy walks in with a large box.

 

I immediately know what it is. Opening the box, which I tried to video for instagram footage was much trickier than I expected. Not quite possible to hold the camera and open a rather large parcel with only two hands. However, I unveil the beautiful paining which has arrived in perfect condition and completely stunning.

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It’s amazing to see the oil up close, the application of the paint and just how much it looks like my husband. I told him, “I now have you immortalised”.

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“What you see is what you see”

collections, Colour, Connections, Old Masters

CS1

“A sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood up somewhere.”

 I’ve used this quote from Frank Stella before but it is so apt for this piece particularly. It harps back to the minimalists of the 1960’s who were looking at the basic elements of an artwork; colour, shape, composition and within that the principles of line, plane, volume, point and space. Cityscape II is the second in a pair within a collection called ‘The harmony between vertical and horizontal”. Interestingly the relationship between vertical and horizontal is that they are opposing elements, they are opposed by nature. This is a study of  the harmony that lies between those oppositions.

How often do we oppose things which causes conflict and dissolution. If instead we look at how contrast can work together to a mutual benefit. I often think of myself and my husband like this. My eldest son asked me one morning what is was about ‘Baba’ that made me know he was my husband. I said, “because he is everything I am not”.

Last week I wrote about visiting the city with my siblings. This week it was half term, hence the later posting and I’ve experienced more conflict between my boys this week. Each age and stage producing their own challenges. I took the boys into the city as we needed to return something. Doubly stressful. One almost fainted in the first shop and we had to pay extra to get on the train because our tickets were off peak! Despite the bickering and managing the crowds and changes int temperature from outdoors to inside we almost had a good time! Interesting, my youngest observed that there were more poor people in the city. There are definitely more juxtapositions to see in the city than the country.

In ‘What you see is what you see: Donald Judd and Frank Stella on the End of painting in 1966’ ,  question the qualities of painting and what painting is, promoting the idea of “A trend towards simpler painting” and a connection between the European geometric painters. Stella is likened to Mondrian and he dismisses this saying he felt he was more like Vasarely. Similarly, I would say that this new piece isn’t a sculpture trying to be a Mondrian in three dimensions but that it is a sculpture that  nods to the minimalists, those eternal elements that artists are exploring, playing and discovering. It is in itself the beauty of sculpture as a three dimensional art piece and the shapes and colours echoing those of Mondiran’s famous abstract paintings. If we look at each angle of this sculpture it is constructed, created, envisioned in form, space and order.

At the time when the minimalists were practicing they put forwarded their simpler approach paralleled by more complicated styles at the time. Perhaps similarly, with the art world today in an era of ‘objects’ and philosophy out weighing the craftsmanship, the sculptor – in this case my husband, is responding to that with highly polished, highly finished, and well designed sculptures. They are “works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” -which is ultimately the definition of art.

 

 

Cityscape II. Sam Shendi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Symbols

collections, Colour, Exhibitions, Galleries

I am sat with a hot black coffee and some jammy figs trying to resist the urge to pick up the book I am currently reading. The problem I have with reading is that it is incapacitating, I don’t want to do anything else. This week however I am solely in charge of our business and the boys as the sculptor is in London at the Saatchi gallery with a solo booth at Start Art Fair.

This is a tick off the bucket list, although not a complete solo show in the entire space which would be the next step.

The pieces look something again in a totally white space and the advice of ‘less is more’ definitely paid off.

start art pieces

Sam Shendi, Start Art Fair 2018, Saatchi gallery, London.

When we look at art I wonder if we always want a quick fix, we want it to makes sense to us, to understand what we are looking at. Photography, painting and sculpture in the past always portrayed some kind of reality even if colours were at odds with the world around us or angles and lines in wrong places.

Someone interestingly asked the question whether my husband used the golden ratio in his work. With artists who have natural talent the rules are somehow embedded within their psyche they have a sense of why and what looks right. They aren’t necessarily following rules by prescription.  What they see makes sense aesthetically and their way of seeing and thinking is different.

These particular pieces maybe seen by some, as abstract forms, colourful piping for the playground or an object to lock your bike to. Shape or space. For the journey of sculpture it is about a three-dimensional form, how to visualise something from every possible angle. What inspires the form for my husband is all rooted in the human figure. The outline or the line that one would sketch becomes manipulated to show a position or body movement. If you look at some of Henry Moore’s abstract piece they look like pieces of vertebrae, focused on mass and volume. If we were to take the outline of those shapes we have these Shendi pieces. The negative space which the colourful line creates could be the sculpture. Or the line itself the sculpture which simultaneously casts a shadow also creating meaning and symbols. Hence, the name of these pieces: Hidden Symbols.

From this angle, the sculpture on the left shows the infinity symbol which becomes a very different shape looking at it from a different angle, an example of how we can all have alternate view points. The sculpture on the right could be a graph, a symbol of communicating information visually.

It is a journey to abstraction based on reality. In a world where we are over stimulated with reality, in the era of social media and screens of visual reality we no longer need to see sculptures of human bodies literally.

Art can take us into new ways of seeing, expand our ideas and if we sit down long enough, make us think for ourselves and use our own imaginations again.

Colours of the sun

collections, Egyptian

We seem to be racing to the end of term with school plays, world cup football matches (far too stressful), a few invoices to input for the business , re-starting a 6 week challenge and relentless sunshine and with all of that, I haven’t had much time or inclination to write. However, something in me has a strong sense of commitment to this self-imposed posting a blog entry on a Friday. Hoping I will be able to  keep it up over the summer holidays. We shall see.

The boys school play was Joseph and his technicolor dream-coat which because of the glorious weather was able to be performed outdoors. Colourful fabric was tied along the school fence. The last show, last swimming lessons, last trips. It marks the end of our eldest’s time through primary school. Have we seen the last of the sun? We certainly needed the rain today and a world cup final wasn’t meant to be. Making all the feel of being in a foreign country with a football team with a chance of winning the world cup a dream.

The twists and turns of life make it the interesting journey that it is. So in my interesting twist and a turn of a day, I could have made more links and references with a little more time but I am going to post this promptly .

Remember your hopes and dreams. They can still be a reality if you allow them to be.

For the story of these sculptures click on the link:   The Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti

4 colours and shendi

Sam Shendi with 4 of 8 pieces of the Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti collection

The Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti

collections, Egyptian

Way back in December my husband said he was closing shop, closing studio for a few weeks. Time Off. Haha who was anyone kidding, the following day he was at the studio creating a new collection. This new collection is steeped in history, a concept, a story.

If you cast your imagination back, back to the time of ancient Egyptians. “The King’s Favourite and Master of Works, the Sculptor Thutmose” flourished in 1350 BC. Thutmose is thought to have been the official court sculptor of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten towards the end of his reign.

Nefertti

The bust of Nefertiti sculpted by Thutmose

The sculptor of the royal house was commissioned to make works of decoration and public art including the well-known Nefertiti Bust (above)

However, the story goes that in the secret spaces of his own studio the sculptor set to work on his own private collection. Looking at the Queen everyday working on the portrait the sculptor fell in love with his muse. So inspired he started working prolifically on full figures presenting her in shapes never seen before, inspired by the beauty of the young queen he explored his own style.

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Sam Shendi in the Studio

Or perhaps the Queen and her sculptor were in love and she commissioned him in secret to work on something that freed him from the constraints of the public design. She wanted him to dedicate his practise to her.

sanding Nefertiti 2

Sanding

Either way, these sculptures were hidden away in his studio and had no opportunity to be unveiled. To be revealed would make his love known or be too much evidence of love forbidden.

RESIN nEFERTITI

Next layer

They remained unearthed in the studio like beings from another world. Beautiful creations dancing in the shadows.

The possibilities of this story, the discovery of several works in the remains of the sculptor’s studio and suggestions that it was the sculptor alone and not an apprentice that worked on those of Nefertiti suggests some sort of secret.

resin anEF 2

Working on the Nefertiti collection in the studio

This story inspires the new collection.

Studio all Nefertti

Studio full of the forbidden sculptures of Nefertiti

Each piece would be positioned on an individual plinth and in two parallel rows of four. These stunning black and white photos below showcase the form, line and perfect finish of these works. Every time my husband finished new work, I think it is the best. Next week I will show you the finished full colour collection.

shadow 2 Nefertiti

Head Shot. Black and White photos of sculptures

shadow Nefertiti

Who on earth was Anthony Bourdain?

collections, Philosophy, Soul searching, Uncategorized

Last Friday, towards the end of my month long self-imposed ban on social media (which I have not been very good at adhering to). I saw a dramatically written little square which caught my attention and thinking space. Grief. Weeping and outpouring. Someone had died.

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Widow, 2017 Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi

There were several posts about this apparent icon. Anthony Bourdain. I had never heard of him. Ignorant or not, whichever camp you are in. I had to look him up on the internet. A Chef. Some of the images and comments about him made me think of my husband in certain ways. The life experience and the stories. I hadn’t heard of his books or seen any of his TV shows. I wondered fleetingly, why there was such an outpouring of despair over one man whom people probably hadn’t even met, when thousands are killed, bombed, persecuted everyday.

There is often that collective overwhelming emotion when something tragic happens, shock, confusion, empathy and probably a whole host of other sentiments. A sudden awareness that life is fragile and nothing is permanent. If we can focus on being mindful in the moment and grateful, the more we can appreciate those precious moments and find the true meaning of being happy.

That very same Friday afternoon I found out my son’s year six teacher was leaving the school. I was shocked and saddened that my youngest son wouldn’t get the golden nuggets of teaching my eldest has received. Preparing him for secondary school with confidence, self belief and optimism. Whilst I know and I am sure there are lots of good teachers, some people are just irreplaceable. I also felt deeply dissapointed that my youngest sport-loving boy wouldn’t have this amazingly sporty teacher. Despite that, it’s a couple of years before my son would have been in her class and who knows what will happen between now and then. We could even move- who knows what can happen in that space of time. I related my strong and almost violent emotion about this news to what I had been reading that morning. I really had to try and sit with my feelings and find out why I was so emotional. It was almost  parallel, so who was I to judge someone else’s overt emotion. I was feeling the same and it wasn’t even death.

This piece entitled, ‘Widow’ captures grief. It suggests the female form and there is a strong femininity about the piece. For me it is my favourite of the Rudimentary collection. When I see this piece I am reminded of a friend, not only because she is a widow but because of a memory I have from when we were young. We were canoeing on the canal and a swan, protecting her nest swam up to my friend and started pecking at her. No matter how frantic and aggressive swans can be there is an elegance, tranquility and beauty about the swan. The arch of the neck hangs down in a graceful sorrow. In mythology the swan was sacred to Venus, goddess of love. Death is all the more tragic because of love. When we love something it is hard to let it go.

Departure is very different from death but perhaps a grief still the same. Yet change is enevitable and very much a part of life. In the end everything comes to an end.

Who was Anthony Bourdain? I didn’t know him but I think when someone dies, suddenly, tragically, at a point in time where we had pressumed no expectation of that passing away, it is wake up call to and/or for ourselves. A realisation and a reminder that we don’t know when we will take our last breath. It is a journey, actually the only certain one, one which we are most often ill prepared for.

When striving for success in a career in this earthly domain it can come at a cost. It seems it did for Bourdain. It often does for artists and I know it is often a struggle for my husband who sacrifices a lot for time in the studio. A creative life doesn’t exist in a straight line and there is a risk of the unknown. Jamie Aaron states in his 11 things highly creative people sacrifice for their art, “They sacrifice the life people told them they should have for a life they love, a life that is inspiring and thrilling. Because that’s the whole point. To create is a privilege, one that artists know not to take for granted. To deny a conventional life is a risk, but not as great a risk as to deny their heart.”

Serendipitously we watched Disney’s ‘Coco’ last night after a month of not watching television (we were a bit more successful at that abstention). The story was about the inhabitants of the land of dead, the unseen world depicted gloriously in this animation, being able to pass back over into the land of living for one day, if they have been remembered by tributes. The main character has to question ‘what form of legacy matters the most and whether our personal ambitions can successfully coexist alongside our commitment to loved ones’. The main song gives a message of how important it is to remember those that have passed away.

“Remember me, though I have to say goodbye
Remember me, don’t let it make you cry
For even if I’m far away, I hold you in my heart
I sing a secret song to you each night we are apart
Remember me, though I have to travel far
Remember me, each time you hear a sad guitar
Know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
Until you’re in my arms again, remember me

Remember me, for I will soon be gone
Remember me, and let the love we have live on
And know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
So, until you’re in my arms again, remember me”

Life is a spiritual experience by the very nature of being conscious, by being aware. The sculptor’s work often explores the idea that the body is simply a vessel. We are essentially souls experiencing the world through the body. But the soul is unseen. So perhaps death is simply the end of the body in this world. The soul returns.

“For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.” Kahlil Gibran

 

How to understand the mind of a sculptor

collections, Colour, Making

Mademoiselle 1

How do you see this sculpture? What do you see?

An abstract form? An insect, some kind of creature? An Alien? A landscape? Or something from your own imagination?

Whatever you see, you see something, you think about something, you remember something?

Frank Stella famously quoted that, “Sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood some where”. This quote I think could sum up my husband’s work. They are like three dimensional canvases. This piece particularly feels that way.

The other evening at the kitchen table, we had finished our supper and were chatting over a hot cup of tea. The last few days had been hot but the cool evening breeze had lowered and the hot tea felt magic.

It’s those little moments, subtle but memorable. When I asked my husband about this piece and he spoke and I wished I had recorded it.

For him, he has the idea, a shape, a concept in his mind. It is completely carved from every angle. He turns it around in his minds eye. Once complete he sets to work. The form then inspires the colour and like a painted canvas he then wraps it around the sculpture like gift wrapping a present , tight to the edges of the shape.

“Mademoiselle” 2017. Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi

This piece is a female form, a young woman experimenting with different hues, finding her true colours. She struts her stuff, thin not yet shaped by life or motherhood. It reminds me of A few days I spent in Paris in my early twenties by myself with my camera, taking back and white photos, not really appreciating the time, the freedom and the vitality I had.

For most of us our minds work in thoughts, ideas, imagination, maybe each one of us thinks different. Perhaps we all are the same. But to go that next step and create something not seen before is unique. That’s why (following on from my last post about SATS and Education) what we learn in school or the test scores don’t relate to our true potential.

Artists don’t need to create a realistic version of something these days. We have cameras and videos for record. To create something inspiring, memorable, colourful yet captures movement, form, beauty is the skill of a true sculptor.

S.A.T’s and a sculpture for education.

collections, Connections, Philosophy

 

Had to break from the ‘Rudimentary collection’ to show you this sculpture, a new addition to the ‘Only Human collection’ and apt for this week.

'Dunce' 2018 Sam Shendi

‘Dunce’ 2018 Sam Shendi

Monday morning. Our eldest was nervous. It has been S.A.T.S week. His teacher has prepared them well and positively encouraged them all year, drawing out the best in each and every one of them. She has ensured them that it is about measuring her abilities as a teacher and the school. My eldest told me that she has said that to them but he wants to do well for her because she is such a good teacher.

Thing is they don’t really measure anyone’s ability do they. The teachers or the pupils. These tests won’t show how imaginative and creative our eldest is, his sense of humour or his popularity in the class. His love of reading which has inspired an interest in Greek Myths and legends. His uniqueness. Or any of the other individuals taking these national tests which seems to me more like my GCSE papers never mind ten and eleven year olds taking them. They have been practising for these tests but what are they learning from them? Do ten and eleven year olds need to be tested and why?

We label, statement and measure abilities from a young age. Is it any different now from the past? In the Victorian era children were made to wear a dunce cap and sit on a stool in the corner of the classroom. A form of humiliating punishment for misbehaving but also if they had failed to show that they had learnt their lesson for the day.

I told my husband that two of the trickier words in our eldest test had been ‘vague’ and ‘inconceivable’. “I don’t know how to spell those”, he said candidly. Albeit that English is his second language and he learns it as he goes along proof enough that knowing a spelling, a grammatical term or an equation doesn’t mean the success or failure that testing seems to suggest.

The concept that my husband envisages for the sculpture is that it sits on a plinth surrounded by origami paper birds which if you look closely are all made from paper covered in complex mathematical problems and equations. They would be positioned in concentric circles around the plinth that ‘Dunce’ would stand on.

Thomas Edison was difficult to teach, maybe due to dyslexia but he also asked too many questions. Indeed, many brilliant minds have struggled in an education system. Children can easily switch off and become discouraged if their natural inquisitiveness isn’t tapped into. I know it is hard to have a system that fits all. You can’t. But I do think in Primary school, children should be fostering a love of learning and a desire to question, discover and more importantly play. It is so dependant on the teacher but how can you measure a teacher’s ability to do that with the scores from a test the children take.

The two reasoning papers this week were the hardest. Whilst I am a little old school in thinking they should learn reasoning, rhetoric, logic and grammar. I don’t think it is reasonable to find something so hard, to miss questions because they are complicated and then not have enough time to go back and have a go, when you are still only ten. Anyway, they are all over now for my eldest who has taken them in his stride, not knowing any different I suppose. He openly said that he could understand why they were being tested on arithmetic, reasoning and spelling. He wasn’t so sure about the comprehension though, which is probably the one he is best at.

If you are an avid reader of my blog, thank you for reading. You will have probably noticed that grammar and spelling are not my strengths and I have had to overcome the knowledge of that which has prevented me from writing in the past. Perhaps the new system, teaching 7 year olds what modal adverbs or conjunctives or all the other technical terms I was never taught will stand them in better stead?

I am not sure there is an answer to today’s Education System. I just hope that my children understand that education is life long, learning is continuous and intelligence really can not be measured. Education doesn’t remain within the confines of school. or to tick boxes. Education is ultimately for the betterment of ones own self-development.

Lady of the Lake (painting, poetry & now sculpture)

collections, Conceptual

I had the very liberating experience of having 33 centimetres of hair chopped off  this week which makes me feel so incredibly lighter. We plaited the hair into two plaits and did a big chop. So the plaits looked like Mermaid tails or a dead animal, depending on how you want to look at it. No longer am I, Rapunzel weighed down by my hair. I think my vision of long hair was of a lady in water with long hair flowing behind her, Ophelia like? or maybe Bond girl. However, it is not actually a reality. Mine was just a messy mop, difficult to wash and because I have thick hair it just looked heavy, hippie-like or hairy wilder-beast, either way it wasn’t looking good.

 

This sculpture, aptly titled ‘Lady of the Lake” was my planned post for this week but with bank holiday, jobs in the house and a hair cut, time has been limited and so has thinking time. However, as wished for, the hair chop gave me inspiration as I sat looking at myself in the mirror in the hairdresser’s chair. An odd thing to stare at your reflection. I don’t often look at myself in the mirror, not in the habit of applying make-up. Although, ironically my new bob inspired me to purchase some mascara for the first time in probably about 5 years.

So, reflecting on the idea of hair and the mirror and the lady of the lake made me think about the links to the Lady of Shalott  painting by John William Waterhouse.

The painting was inspired by a scene in Tennyson’s poem of the plight of a young woman forbidden to look directly at reality or the outside world and doomed only to view the world through a mirror. The red fiery colour of the hair is the same in both painting and sculpture, the purples in the water and the tapestry on the painting also represented on the sculpture and the black almost wheel like gestures on the sculpture mirror the boat in the painting. The movement of the paint on this sculpture is different from on the other sculptures as though it has literally risen from under the water, so the paint lines are wavy like waves or water movement. It could be a creature from the deep, an organic water form. Again the wavy lines link to the weave of the tapestry of the lady of shallot.

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1809 – 1892

The Lady of Shalott lives in an island castle in a river which flows to Camelot, during the days of King Arthur. The Arthurian links also to the Lady of Lake. The Lady of the Lake is a sorceress and the body of medieval literature and legend about Great Britain. So tradition tells, the Lady of the Lake was the foster-mother of Sir Lancelot and raised him beneath the murky waters of her Lake.

I was almost lady of the lake today as we had the toilet disconnected and despite having turned the stop tap off we still had running water from behind the toilet which then started dripping from the bathroom down through the floor and ceiling below through spot light into the hallway. So buckets in the bathroom and buckets in the hallway as this mornings adventure. Fortunately the carpets are not being fitted until next week so the flooring is all still rough and ready and able to handle a good soaking. We are still in so much chaos a little bit more just added to the drama. My husband had rushed home to help and see if he could find another stop-tap or some solution to the problem. Our work man told him I had been a drama queen. When I called out that he was a little fibber he had to stop his laughing as he waddled down the stairs with toilet in his arms still dripping from his uncontrollable shaking. Knowing full well he had been the one panicking. I don’t think he had predicited my reaction.

Leaking stopped. I won’t be submerged in murky waters this weekend (may not have a toilet but here’s hoping). We will leave the lady of the lake to poems, paintings and now sculpture.