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.

 

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Example of minimising with meaning

collections, Colour, Conceptual, Connections, Making

After posting my last blog entry I realised I had left out a really important image of a piece which sums up the  ‘Less is more idea’. So to follow on from Friday’s post:

thinker

‘Thinker’ (2007)

When asked to choose a favourite piece the sculptor often  settles for this piece; inspired by two of his favourite artists Rodin and Mondrian. After making this piece he realised he was influenced by both artists and the architecture of the 60’s. “The concept of minimalist architecture is to strip everything down to its essential quality and achieve simplicity. The idea is not completely without ornamentation, but that all parts, details, and joinery are considered as reduced to a stage where no one can remove anything further to improve the design.”

I think these words echo truth concerning this sculpture and many of the others, “no one can remove anything further to improve the design.”

This piece is entitled ‘The Thinker’, harps back to the old masters but brings a unique contemporary style for today. It combines the fascination of the piece, ‘The Thinker’ by Rodin and the abstractions of Mondrian.

Ad Reinhart remarked, “The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is less. Less is more. The eye is a menace to clear sight. The laying bare of oneself is obscene. Art begins with the getting rid of nature.
The use of colour is with purpose, the bright yellow represents the spark of an idea, a light bulb moment enhancing the idea of ‘The Thinker’. So whilst this piece strips back all the details of the human body, it still provokes thought, meaning and symbolism.

‘Toy’ to a new home

Conceptual, Philosophy

Another blogger /writer, a mother, wrote about how she put all the children’s toys in black bin liner and hid them in the studio. She left just one or two toys out and if the child asked for something particular she resurrected it. She noticed however that her child was playing more imaginatively and productively. I quite regularly re-home toys in an effort to make more space especially in the boys shared room. They are sometimes good at giving things to charity. We recently split a large basket of animals into piles of which we would keep and ones we would give away. This was a little harder as the eldest loves animals, so some that were originally for charity crept back into the basket. I wish I could be as ruthless and bag everything up and start with a blank slate again, introducing just a few toys. Even I find it difficult though to let go, a hoarder by heart. I will pick something up and think ‘ah but they played so nicely with that last month!’ We attach ourselves to things unnecessarily. We place value on them to much.

Yesterday, on returning from the studio finishing off getting ‘The Toy’ ready my husband likened creating a sculpture to being a mother. I understood the analogy but I don’t agree (that’s the mother speaking). However, I totally understood that he felt a little saddened in saying goodbye to ‘The Toy’ which he is taking today to a new home. It was a piece that started on our kitchen table with ‘Blood, sweat and tears’. For this piece is in some ways so more than a sculpture, it is a concept, an idea, a philosophy. One day it would be fantastic to produce it in bronze. It is a piece which often produces a negative reaction. Unlike most of the other works it holds a dark, disturbing image but sometimes it is those harder to swallow ideas that have the strongest message.

This piece is different from the majority of the work but my husband couldn’t find any better way to present his thoughts. With these mediums and this design, it speaks about the 21st century, the society that we live in. The fact the most people work hard and yet don’t go anywhere, like a rocking horse. However long it rocks it stays in the same place. The skeleton is black to show the time that we are in, when fuel has become more important than human life or any living creature, think oil spills and images of birds and sea creatures coated in petrol. The horse-tail, is real horse hair represents the focus on our bodies, going to the gym, looking good, good diet etc. Similar to he technique for a horse race, constantly looked after, good diet, great exercise trained for the ‘race’. Wins only to make the owner very rich. We have become a ‘toy’ to our bosses, to our society and to our media. Played with and manipulated somehow. We believe that this is the normal life the life we are supposed to have. Work 9 till 5, 6 days a week, sleep 8 hours, have three-course meal and wish to live longer..when we could end up being in a nursing home, sitting down on a rocking chair thinking that you lived the life in full. This is an observation of the way our society has become obsessed with material aspects of life, of being in the spotlight not thinking beyond.

toy home

‘The Toy’ by Sam Shendi. 2012

 

Art can be aesthetically pleasing and beautiful but sometimes we need to stop and think and the ‘shock value’ in this piece is intended for that. ‘The Toy’ spent the last six months at Cartwright art Gallery and Museum being viewed by the public and we were given a copy of the fantastic and intriguing comments. Now it moves to a private collection. We have to let go.

(…..yes the’ Frozen’ lyric does spring to mind but immediately wipe it out your mind. I looked up synonyms but nothing else fit )

Fumare

Colour, Conceptual, Philosophy

I thought it was a bit ironic that the local paper had chosen this image alongside the strap line “Artists create work inspired by Tour”. When what immediately comes to mind is ‘A smoker’, meaning a person who partakes in smoking, and not probably partaking in riding around the dales on a bike, (or maybe some are I maybe being presumptuous).

This is a piece which is growing on me, as the more I discover about it and the more I have to think about it  in order to write; the more I understand the philosophy behind it. This is how it should be with art and life. Sometimes it makes sense, it appears to us clearly and we can go ‘yeah I get that’ other times it is more of a struggle we don’t understand or only later on does something reveal it’s deeper hidden meaning.

This piece is one solid colour rather than the usual mix of colours and so for me it is harder to connect with. ‘I just see red’ which is actually is why it is all red. So what is this piece about…the medium for this sculpture is a ‘collage’ of exhaust pipes and mannequin parts. This in itself highlighting the very issue the piece is speaking about. Those moments in life when we feel disappointment, frustration,and we can’t express it. Those moments when you get on your bike and ride around the dales to let off steam! Perhaps, indeed their is a link between this piece and riding your bike after all.

The modern world is gradually pushing us into a trap of not being able to say what we really mean or what we want. We live in a ‘democracy’ where ‘freedom of speech’ is apparently a tool for us all. Yet we are pushed by media and consumerism to think , act and behave in a certain way. We can’t always say for fear off being misunderstood, offending others, not being politically correct. For some people the toll of being on this treadmill makes them ‘fume’. The verb ‘Fume’ means both ‘to emit gas, vapour or smoke’ and also to feel, express or show anger, coming from  the Latin fumare ‘to smoke’.  ‘The smoker’ is  currently in a Saatchi online competition ,having being selected from 4,000 artists it is now in the top 30 semi final.  I will leave you with the images to have a think about it for yourself…..

smoker 1

‘Smoker’

 

'Smoker'

‘Smoker’ or should I re-title it ‘Fumare’

Change

Colour, Conceptual, Soul searching

The summer has really felt like a summer this year, dry and sunny days, picnics and playing in the river, riding bikes and long evenings. The shift into a new season will be a noticeable change. My youngest is starting nursery preschool and so we are having a change in our daily pattern after the holidays and return to school routine. I feel nostaligc but a sense of renewed energy to come and a chance to refocus. Change is a necessary part of life.

The new work needs considering,more time to prepare the words alongside them. We need to do the writings now in preperation for the exhibition at the end of October. The sculptures had their photoshoot and we have a set of fantastic images to use.

I am reshowing one of the ‘Souls’ here. The idea of a ‘sculpture within’.

untitled

I will leave it with you to sit and stare at the image and let me know what you can see within it.

Some people change, some remain the same, unwilling or unable. As we head into autumn we need to start reflecting on how to improve our characters, to be a little kinder, be a little calmer, draw a little closer to the depths of our soul. Think about our attitudes, our belief systems. There are some disturbing things happening globally. Behaviour which need to change.

Change comes from within.

‘The Toy’

Conceptual, Exhibitions, Galleries, Philosophy, Soul searching

It feels a while since I have written but the past few weeks have been a detoxification of so much that I haven’t had the desire to sit and write so much.  I had even prepared much of this post to quickly slip a post in in anticipation of lack of time to write.

For me, this is one of the best pieces of my husband’s work.  It is more museum worthy than public art, most of the other work is ‘willing to grow’. This could be outside if cast in bronze but I do think this is one for a large indoor space. Yes, it is sinister, disturbing, intriguing… but in today’s modern contemporary art world where almost anything goes, sometimes you have to make a statement that will make the viewer stop. Look. Think.

The journey of this piece started last year and has continued to be one of ‘blood, sweat and tears’ . It was selected for the Hot one hundred so was in exhibition in London when it got pre-selected for the Threadneedle prize, which we were very excited about. So, we had a little bit of logistics and negotiation to get it from A to B.  Having applied for the Threadneedle for the last two years and not been successful we were feeling fairly hopeful that this was a good sign. The piece seemed to fit  the requirements, for example;  “Work that possesses a life force of its own… work that has ‘that something’ which stops the viewer in their tracks.” Tim Shaw. Having got it to the Mall galleries  and putting it amongst the other pre selected work my husband was still pretty optimistic about the next stage. So we waited for the Thursday announcement. On the Wednesday my husband got a call from them and though it could only be good news. It wasn’t. The reason for the early call was because it did need to be collected and the collection days were the same as the rather large cycle event happening in the London on the same day, could he go earlier to collect it. Needless to say, living so far away from London we couldn’t really go any other day and we also needed to drop some other work off at the Cork street gallery (just round the corner). So, my husband and his man with a van headed into London to the Mall galleries  and Cork Street, to deliver work and to collect a rather hefty piece of art, at the same time as some 16,500 cyclist needed the very same road. I printed out maps of the gallery and the cycle routes, the roads which were closed and the roads which would be restricted. I didn’t think it looked possible.However, there was not a lot of choice off they went. I was rather expecting a call to say they hadn’t been able to get it.

Here is what happened; after successfully managing to deliver work at The Cork Street Gallery at 10am (not quite sure how they got there in such good time!) they circled around and realised they just couldn’t get the van to the entrance of the Mall Gallery. Pulling into a lay-by as the driver needed to go to the toilet, on finding a toilet my husband realised that they could see the entrance of the Mall gallery. They decided to walk to it to see how far it was but rather than being able to go straight across the road they were diverted because of the preparations for the crowds supporting the cyclists. On getting to the gallery the driver insisted that as they were there they ‘may as well’ carry the piece back. The images here do not show the glass box which my husband decided to exhibit it in. So, each carrying an edge of the box they walked the mile back to the van. Crowds now gathering, had to shift quickly once they realised two men were carry a glass box and not in fact just pushing their way through. Apparently, they got comments about ‘where the camera was’. I am not sure whether they did that before or after the actual ‘Toy’ which must have then caused another commotion, as though two art thieves were stealing in broad daylight. One way to advertise your work. They did it, they got the piece out but unfortunately not in the shortlisted Threadneedle.

The piece speaks about the 21st century, the society that we live in. It is representing the idea that you work hard and are not going anywhere, like a rocking horse. However long it rocks, it is simply moving back and forth, not moving forward.  The black for the skeleton (it is not a real skeleton) shows that we are in a time when petrol has become more important than human life. As for the horse-tail, (it is real horse hair) this represents the way society keeps pushing you constantly to look after your health, going to the gym, good diet etc etc, and this is a similar technique for a horse race. It seems the horse that has constantly been looked after, good diet, great exercise goes to the race and wins makes the owner very rich. Hence the title, ‘The Toy’ for this concept presents us as having become a toy to our boss, to our society, to our media and to our routine, played with and somehow we believe that this is the normal life that we are supposed to have. People work 9 till 5, six days a week, sleep eight hours, have three-course meal, wish to live longer and will end up being in a nursing home, sitting down on a chair rocking thinking that you lived the life in full. This is an observation of the world through my husband’s art. When words can’t describe what he sees.

Front View

Front View

'The Toy'

‘The Toy’

'The Toy'

‘The Toy’

'The head'

‘The head’

'The Toy in shadow'

‘The Toy in shadow’

'The Toy' side on

‘The Toy’ side on

'The Toy' - in spotlight

‘The Toy’ – in spotlight

'The Toy'

‘The Toy’

“Laugh, Cry, or roll your eyes”…

Colour, Conceptual, Making

I love this tag line, used by a dear friend and fellow blogger who writes at  ‘Life in Marrakesh’ and would highly recommend reading it. I have borrowed the ‘Laugh, cry or roll your eyes’ as it was so appropriate for many reasons.  A few weeks ago, in the school playground when I was talking to a mum and friend as we were collecting children, I was speaking about how busy my husband was and I apparently did a meaningful, ‘roll of the eyes’. My friend said this definitely had to go in the blog. I thought it was a great idea but then kept forgetting to put it in. How  ever, since then my ‘roll of the eyes’ has got ever so more heart felt and so it needed its own post.

Today the boys and I are at our business, ‘Arabesque’, whilst my husband is down in London again (roll of eyes). No, I don’t mean it in a begrudging way at all (honest). It has to be done and it’s an exciting trip as a piece has been pre selected for The Threadneedle prize, we just have to pray it gets selected to the next stage on Thursday. I also have no grumbles about being in the shop but with two young boys, one in the middle of potty training it is a bit testing. And tested I have been with three messy accidents and only two pairs of shorts. I really wasn’t planning for so many ‘caca’s’ this morning. So my only solution was to cut the netting out of the swim shorts which happened to be my spare pair of shorts, in order to use them again and to prevent a half-naked child( like those in the East end in the 1950’s) running around the shop. I just hope the delivery guys and customers in today don’t get a strong odour passing under their nose. Not a good business look. I have sprayed the air freshener continually but I think I can permanently smell it (Laugh or cry?)

After a testing couple of hours with the youngest I somehow managed to rock him to sleep and lie him on a table-cloth I had brought for picnic lunch, lunch for the boys I may add. I am doing this on a fasting day with 3 hours sleep. Not that I am complaining at all. Actually I think I have had many blessings in making it an easy day considering. We are also one week into the six-week summer holiday and we have managed a few small outings so far but with the sculptor working all hours it is hard to find a little time to sit and write.

Last week saw another trip to London to deliver pieces to an art consultant and at the end of the month another trip for the Cork Street summer exhibition. This is all at the same time as continually making pieces for the FIRST@108 exhibition in October. The work in progress are the images here;

'The Question'

‘The Question’

The Ride

‘The Ride’

I have come to the conclusion my husband is some sort of bionic man working all ours, though he  does get exhausted and is finding getting the balance of work and life and faith a test, especially in this month. I am hopeful that this week and in the coming weeks we will start to see the hard work pay off a little. Can’t decide if I will laugh, cry or roll my eyes if it doesn’t!

The souls of sculptures

Colour, Conceptual, Soul searching

I squealed with delight when I saw these last week. First in their bare metal, the folds and obvious faces and figures. Very appropriate for this month where we strengthen our souls and lower our desires for worldly gains and test our strength of spirit.


souls 3souls 4souls2souls 5souls 6souls1

“The older I get I realize people are not always as they seem. I realize the true meaning of humanity. However hard I try I am always sucked in with the society and from time to time the routine of life drains me. In these new pieces there is a hidden sculpture within each one. Each is different and will be presented in its own individual colour. They somehow hold a secret hidden within. The viewer needs to see it, decide what it used to be before. Like souls, somehow you know they belong to something, to shapes and it feels like these pieces are souls of sculptures. They used to be the form of a sculpture, but the soul of the sculpture is what I am trying to represent and for the viewer to decide how it should look. I agree, you might see a lump of crushed steel, heavy and maybe not up to health and safety standards. However. Like a sentence you are trying to read between the lines of, or looking deeper into the shape rather than the outline. These pieces are under the theme of the expression ‘Don’t judge the book by its cover’. Sam Shendi”

I doubted how they would be any better in colour.  For me they are a fantastic mixture of abstract, figurative, colour, minimalism but they are also  symbolic of the state we are in.  There are so many more words I could write about these but will save for when we have some professional pictures.  See for yourself for now;

soulssouls top

'

‘Ready for photo shoot’

VOTE

Colour, Conceptual, Exhibitions, Public Art

To VOTE click here and then scroll down The RBS page, unfortunately you then have to click onto ‘see more recent stories’ then there are images of the five finalists. As it is in alphabetical order my husband’s image is last, lots of scrolling down I am afraid but we will really appreciate your vote. The theme given to sculptors to work on was ‘Transmission’. The concept for this maquette is below. Huge THANK YOU to all those who have voted already.

 So if you could PLEASE VOTE by clicking ‘like’ on the image of my husband’s maquette. It would be great to get it to 250 likes by next week. We are not sure how much the ‘public vote’ counts towards the winning. He still has an interview to put forward his proposal. The rest we have to leave to the jury. A prestigious panel of five. Who next week will have my husband’s career in their hands.

Maquette for FIRST@108 award, titled 'Evolution'

Maquette for FIRST@108 award, titled ‘Evolution’

This sculpture is under the name of ‘Evolution’, showing the development of the changes to our body caused by the powerful effect of life’s energy transmission inside us. My idea is presented by 7 individual sculptures, each piece representing a minimalistic shape of the human figure in seven different stages of life.

Each piece is represented in an individual shape, height and colour, enabling the viewer to separate every stage but still seeing the whole concept as one piece. As though it is a single wave depicting the energy within us, a wave of transmission.

The individual stages show the physically changes our body goes through in order to maintain or contain this energy. The 7 stages are: Infancy, Childhood, Teenage years, Adulthood, Maturity, Elderly and Death. These constructions will be made from steel, and by using high gloss colours makes the sculpture appear weightless but remains strong to withstand the elements.

This sculpture will have a minimalistic contemporary and an architectural appeal to connect with the viewer and allow them to see the message behind the concept. It has a child friendly appeal to encourage appreciation from a wide range of viewers.

This transmission within us doesn’t see culture, ethnicity, education, religion or any difference between us. It is within us regardless and we all share this mysterious transmission that is able to change us in a short period of time. Some of us are unaware of it; some of us take it for granted, some of us neglect it. This piece shows how powerful the energy which is transmitted through our life is and that our similarities are more inspiring than our differences.

Curious and Curiouser

Colour, Conceptual, Connections, Exhibitions, Galleries

‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English. I get away with not speaking good English, living with an Egyptian I don’t worry about being corrected and sometimes I wonder if we haven’t gone and created our own language. Along with spending my days understanding toddler speak I am heading down a slippery slope. A bit like Alice! My connection with Alice is that one of my husband’s courting lines to me was, “why don’t you see how deep the rabbit hole goes”! Well I am well and truly wandering in the warren.

Curiously, Curious George is the favourite cartoon my boys watch at the moment and this week the exhibition opens at ‘Curious Duke‘. This piece is one of five pieces on show in the exhibition ‘Young masters’ running from February 7th to March 7th at 207 Whitecross Street, London.

'Sperm'

‘Sperm’

Curiosity (from Latin curious “careful, diligent, curious,”) is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning. I think my husbands approach to his art, is just that. It is an exploration and an investigation into human behaviour. He certainly makes pieces which are indeed curious. This piece was made last year and I realised I hadn’t given it a showcase in my blog but this week it will be having its first exhibition. My husband said he could have used this for his ‘Transmission’ theme. That may have raised a few eyebrows.

sperm2

‘Sperm’

Housed in Curious Duke Gallery a 400 year old subterranean space on Whitecross Street in Islington. “One of the most welcoming and unique gallery spaces you will ever encounter.” You can read more about it at ‘Made in Shoreditch’ Magazine. So, if you are around in London over the next month pop in if you are curious.

sperm

‘Sperm’