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

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

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.

Bonkers

Exhibitions, Public Art, Relationships

mermaid in building

Section of ‘The Mermaid’ in the reception of Aldgate Tower, London

Last week passed in a flash. A bonkers week! Having the sculptor back at home after his eight-day trip in London must have made the difference. Indeed he came back with stories and stuff, now strewn along the countertop in the kitchen. I thought I had finally cleaned and cleared for good this time! We may have converted the attic to a bedroom but now we need an office.

The week got so carried away that I forgot about writing and putting out a Friday blog. It’s a self-imposed deadline and it’s not as though I have thousands of follows falling off their seats waiting for my blog post to drop into the ether, however, this year I have found the structure of weekly writing helpful. I am still not sure how to increase readers though and I swing like a pendulum as to whether that is what I want or not.

I don’t feel I am back in a routine after the summer holidays  and with having a week of being at the shop (our kitchen business). I am looking forward to getting back into a routine. All a little bit altered with some changes in after school clubs and the boys now in different schools.

So last week the sculptures went straight from Saatchi, in a van with the sculptor to a new location in Aldgate Tower, London. It was decided that they looked best without plinths, appearing to come out of the ground.

However in the middle of last week we got a call to say the client wanted plinths, people were coming to close to them and probably other reasons too. Dutifully on Sunday the sculptor made a return trip to London with plinths. He was unfazed by this mainly I think because it is a new company we have started working with and  hopefully future potential. They do , however, look so much better on plinths.

I like this time of year as  the shift in seasons feels more distinct and reminder of and for change. Whilst the sculptor spent Sunday in the van, the boys and I enjoyed some autumnal sunshine in the woods after stressful morning of homework, don’t get me started on year 4 maths.

I had a little win in a lovely new shop and cafe which focuses on zero  waste. I filled up two lovely glass jars with hand soap and fabric conditioner for the washing machine, apparently you can make this from conkers. So it felt counter productive when you then have to go and buy plastic wrap to go round your child’s Spanish book all nicely covered with collage as part of his homework and even more so when you have to go and do it again because the first time round the purchase wasn’t clear plastic but a solid blue; though I am sure I read the label saying clear. It blatantly wasn’t clear enough.

Searching for conkers and then throwing against the wall for them to smash out of their shells was perfect therapy. We went bonkers for conkers, maybe even more so if we use it as soap.

aldgate building

Sam Shendi Sculptures in the reception of Aldgate Tower, London

 

 

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.

A repost of an interview in South Africa. In conversation with….

Exhibitions, Galleries

It is a year since this exhibition in South Africa but I wanted to re-post this video to see again this huge collection down in the southern hemisphere. Some great, huge pieces and a collection which tells a story. Sculptural Story telling.

 

In conversation with….

Exhibitions, Galleries