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

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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!

 

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’ !

& -the lessons I have learnt this month.

Colour, Connections, Making, Steel

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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to give it some scale:

to give scle to &

Luna London Art Fair

Colour, Exhibitions, Galleries, Publications

We have been ‘Moon’ spotting over the last weeks as it has been noticeably spectacular. One evening last week when driving back from swimming lessons the moon appeared to be sat on the horizon with just the smallest of slithers glowing around the edge and yet you could still see the full outline of the full circle. It was magic.

When we were in Egypt we saw a huge reddish moon, large and low but it is tricky to get a good image of the moon. In the news this week apparently the Chinese have managed to grow a shoot on the moon. Not sure how true that is! Linking to the Chinese, the character for ‘moon’ is above and so is a three-dimensional sculptural version which is currently being exhibited with AN gallery, a Korean gallery at London Art Fair. Whilst the lines of the brush strokes almost correspond exactly to the coloured piping at this angle, the beauty of a sculptural form is that it can be viewed at many angles and creates a whole new perspective.

The colour positioning in this piece creates a pictorial view. A red moon, I think I questioned this before I saw the real deal by the red sea. Perhaps also representing the Japanese flag which also uses this moon character. A pink sky, a green tree, black earth. These colours are also deemed to be lucky colours in Chinese culture.

 

In the early hours of Tuesday morning or more like the middle of the night, the sculptor was up with his aches and pains and setting off with van and sculpture down to London Art Fair. This meant I had to take youngest child (who usually sleeps in) with me, to drop of eldest child, so to make it easier for breakfast, I put weetabix in a jar and we poured over the milk whilst we sat in the car park. One of my first jobs was to remember to pay for congestion charges for their drive through London.

By mid-morning I got a very quick snatched call from a panicked sculptor who said they had chipped sculpture on the way in and that the gallery who he is exhibiting with wasn’t on the ground floor.  So the sculptor was stressed and then he had to dash. So I couldn’t concentrate on my invoice inputting…

The next call was to say he couldn’t check in to the hotel until 3pm and he was tripping and dripping and really wanted to sleep but had to look around the other stands.

I don’t often think ‘we’ titled a sculpture wrongly (the emphasis on the ‘we’ here) but I am starting to wonder whether we should have named this piece ‘Luna’, the Roman personification of the divine embodiment of the moon would link nicely with this still being seen as the outline of a figure.

The sculptor headed home yesterday on the train with lots of stories to tell me. An interesting meeting  which I’m trying not to get too excited about as it’s early days and sometimes these things don’t happen. But positive thinking. London Art Fair continues until Sunday, if you are in London why not head to the business Centre (52 Upper Street, London) to check it out.

2019 Active and ready.

Colour, Connections, Egyptian, Public Art, Uncategorized

picture for 2019

‘The Bow’ by Sam Shendi. Photo: WeWork Devonshire Square. ARTIQ.

2019 is here and rolling and goodness, who knew how important having a holiday is?! I knew I needed one, as it had been eighteen months since a week in Scotland, and four years since a trip like this. However, it’s only on returning that I relish how divine it is to feel more relaxed and patient and how more easily available I am to take a deep breath. I am still in some hazy reality of not being ground down by the everyday shenanigans. I really want to try to remain and contain this slow pace and mellow state of moving and being.

We are warming up slowly to being back in the cold and cooler climates of Cowling (small village in Yorkshire, where we live) after spending  a good two weeks in glorious sunshine and azure skies, although there was strong wind, this only assisted in our catamaran trip and land sailing activities. The other amazing thing was not thinking about what to cook and meal planning, I am still struggling with this. I ate too much delicious food including fresh fish caught by the boys.

We returned to Egypt, despite looking at other destinations. As the sculptor is Egyptian, we felt the boys needed to soak up some of the Egyptian sun and see the sculptor’s sisters. It was glorious to have the sculptor around for seventeen days without distractions of shop or studio. I think this is where a trip of this kind differs from a week in Scotland for us, as we have our own business we are still fitting kitchens  throughout the year so the phone is almost certain to still be ringing. December allows us to completely close the shop.

(If you don’t already follow me on Instagram- thesculptorswife and you can see highlights of our trip away; lots of sea and sun).

So we started 2019 relaxed and ready. Last year my new year’s resolution was to set an intention. For 2018 it was ‘purpose’ which really helped me focus, regular blog writing, getting the house organised a bit better and planning out time more efficiently. All still work in progress but it enabled me to set goals and achieve.

This year’s word is ‘Active’. When my youngest son refused to race in a cross-country event, I had to dig deep and discover why I was so cross about it. I was the one that needed to move more. So this year I am determined to get back my love for being active. Although that focus is primarily about exercise it also encompasses being active here on this blog. It is nine years in the blogging coincidentally, I started ‘The Sculptor’s wife’ after a trip to Egypt with the purpose of writing about my husband’s art work whilst have two small children at home and pre-school. How quickly things change, the boys are so much bigger now and since I first started writing we now have the studio and have produced large-scale pieces of work which have been shipped worldwide.

I am also intending to be active about self-care and Yoga with adriene and the ‘Dedicate’ 30 day yoga journey has been a great start. Highly recommend! This image of the ‘Bow’ (above), to me is a great symbol of a balasana (child’s pose).

‘Active’ also means for me that we are active or proactive about getting the sculptures in exhibitions which is an area we need to develop and ultimately for my husband to be a full-time artist. That is the next big dream. I am not sure how that can happen this year but I read that when manifesting an idea you have to believe it is already so. Hence the image above which is a sculpture on location which is always so satisfying to see. So here we go.

We start next week by having a piece at London Art Fair. More about that next week.

Seasons Greetings

Colour, Connections

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Snow topped Sculptures at the studio

Wishing you all a warm winter wonderland. I say this merrily as we are in Egypt for this holiday season 2018. Finishing off one of my best years in the sun! Thank you for reading and here’s hoping 2019 brings more sculptures, success and stories. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

How to read art: Understanding Sculpture Shakespeare, & Shendi.

Colour, Conceptual, Connections, Philosophy

section of the branch

Side view of ‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi

Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? …people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
— Pablo Picasso

One perspective of 'The Bow'

The Bow, Sam Shendi

Sometimes we try too hard to understand what art is and what the artist is trying to say. Any art form be it; music, singing, poetry, writing, painting, drawing and sculpture, dance and even sport (if you see can go as far as to see that as an art form) is an expression from the artist. The creator. It’s their voice.

section of mermaid

How, as someone trying to appreciate another’s voice, do we try to understand what someone else is trying to say? Like with any conversation, it is best to let go of any judgements, any preconceived ideas or opposition. Easier said than done when in a discussion or a debate.  However, in the case of art. The art form isn’t directly speaking back to you in any kind of altercation, so the ability to let go should be easier.

So, with the case of sculpture if you want to understand it, you can consider these following things:

 How does it make you feel?

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‘The Toy’

And any emotion can be relevant. See what comes up. Accept. Don’t try to force meaning or words. Relax and think about the sensations.

Does it evoke memories? Give you ideas, inspire you, does it open your imagination? Relax.

Shelter 2012 Sam Shendi

Let your eyes wander around it. This is why seeing sculpture, live in its three-dimensional form  is important and can help understanding. We can only appreciate or connect so much from an image.

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Look at the colours or lack of colour, how do the colours impact or affect you?

Consider  the materials and whether that makes you feel a certain way?

I saw recently on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park instagram page the quote, “Sculptures often explore the edges of objects and spaces, overlapping, puncturing or touching”. What about the shape, the form, the surface. Is it smooth, soft, sharp, curvy, does it cast shadows?

cropped-kiss1.jpgHow do you interact with the piece when you walk around it?

Take your time.

Does it speak to you?  What does that question mean to you?

‘Urgency’ 2012 Sam Shendi

Art is an experience.

It is about analysing your emotional response to it and the potential for the work to open your imagination and idea up into potential a higher plane.

We might look at a Van Gough, Monet or a Rembrandt, a Da Vinci or a Michelangelo and think that we can understand the painting and sculpture because it visually makes sense to us. But go beyond what you see. How does it make you feel?

When I first saw the Mona Lisa, I was shocked by the size. When I wandered around Rothko’s large abstract paintings I was in awe. I’ve seen work that is brilliant, baffling and beguiling.

Often we don’t listen to a piece of music, whatever genre and try to understand it. Art appreciation seems a little harder, a little more perplexing. Why?

ripe 2In both there is composition, creating a scene, a mood, a form of expression.

My husband would say that it isn’t about ‘understanding’.  He thinks that unfortunately what is happening now is a generation of people who are driven by materialism and money and are spending too much time thinking about what to create and it that so much of art has become an object or a product. True artists should be simply driven by the desire to express their imagination. He says for example, “if you look at a Dali painting, what he has done is capture his imagination and introduces it to us. We have the opportunity to see inside Dali’s head”.

I went to see Othello with a very good friend of mine. The performance was modern, minimal and had a very shocking scene in the middle of it, which we were not sure needed to be there. Perhaps, we were seeing something that was inside the director’s head…eek! However, what was very noticeable to us both was that because we had studied it for one of our A-level texts we could understand it ( to a certain degree). Where as, we mused that had we not, much of it would have gone over our heads. Watching this Shakespeare performance 20 years after first reading it, seeing it, analysing and taking it apart made me realise that it is important to learn about an art form. If you do want to understand it to a higher level then it is about deconstructing it and putting it back together.

Living with an artist, a sculptor has enabled me perhaps to deconstruct my own way of thinking and put it back together. I wonder if that is essentially what marriage is asking you to do, when you live in a shared space and choose to share your life with someone different from yourself. Communication is so important.

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.

We listen to reply.”

Susan Stiffelman.

The same in art, we look to form an opinion, we don’t look to observe and learn. In Othello, we are shown how character and emotion plays a vital role in understanding ourselves and others and how the dangers of not harnessing those emotions can them can have. We can either analyse and learn from it or put up a barrier in opening up our channels of understanding. So perhaps Picasso was right, we can’t explain art. We have to be open.

“Observe, accept, release, transform” Yung Pueblo.

looking up

 

“What you see is what you see”

collections, Colour, Connections, Old Masters

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“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The secret within the cityscape

Colour, Philosophy, Steel

In the summer my siblings and I went into Leeds for a meal. I think that was the last time I went into a city. Like a country mouse I gaze up at the towering architecture, navigate the crowds of people and stare at the lights. Slightly in awe but leaving with almost immense relief.

My sister lives in Sheffield and my brother in Sydney so I am the country bumpkin of the three. I spend my days at home in a rural village in Yorkshire, tootling or pottering about the country roads (although probably not quite at that leisurely pace) as I pick the boys up from school and take them to activities, always feel I am running late and working at our shop in a nearby small town.

I like the slower rhythm and the quiet that comes with country living. The sculptor likes this too but sometimes he wonders if his career as a sculptor may have had a different pace had we been in London. He spent 8 days in London in September and this next month (November) is there almost every weekend collecting pieces from various locations.

Perhaps, inspired by the city landscape but also a  progression on from the calligraphy collection, into a new movement of geometric three-dimensional-drawings this sculpture below is one in a pair of cityscapes.

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Cityscape II by Sam Shendi 2018

I love how the shadows also cast a unique city skyline. The interplay of the vertical and horizontal lines causes each slight degree of movement to create a different vision, so every angle produces a new piece of sculpture and a new projected shadow.

The geometric, angular and straight lines within this piece is very much like my experience of being in a city. Striking and bold, dominating and  deliberate. As well as feeling excited and mesmerised, I can often feel overwhelmed and slightly confused in a city space. This sculpture beautiful captures all of that and then hidden within a secret. As so often is the way in cities, some little gem or oasis of tranquility.

In the sculpture the hidden secret is this angle (below).

cityscape 3

Character-by-character-Mandarin-Chinese-learning-Mountain-is-written-as山-shān-1
This direction or position gives us this, very clearly the Chinese symbol of mountain. Within any landscape there are hidden treasures, places to uncover. Even within the landscape of art. Art is no longer the traditional forms of paintings and sculpture. Art is a vehicle of ideas and philosophy. A way of communication, visual storytelling and ultimately a way for us all to exercise our imagination.