After several years of carving, crafting, working and whipping up huge sculptural stories, tonight in Johannesburg the opening of my husband solo show will showcase all that work in one space at Graham’s Fine Art Gallery (photos from the gallery)
The sculptor was amazed to see himself larger than life. ( I see this everyday!) but literally plastered all over the building.
A month at sea, a stay in the port and then the drive from Durban to Johannesburg to the gallery, the sculptures arrived not quite without hiccup.
A few damaged and the repair kit missing added to the drama. However, hoping today that has all been fixed. I haven’t heard any updates so praying that everything is going well.
So he spent an intense day unloading and setting up.
Yesterday, he had interviews.
Tonight the show will open. I am so excited all the way back home here in North Yorkshire and anticipating hearing all about it….find out more tomorrow.
Here is a sneak preview :
At the beginning of the year my husband took a trip to Johannesburg to check out a gallery there which was interested in his work. His trip turned into his usual adventure with tales to tell and amusing anecdotes to recount. Excitingly though he was really impressed by the space and what the gallery could deliver.
So began the next process of getting the sculptures ready and wrapped. Arranging meetings with the shipping company and which sculptures were going on the voyage. It was almost a huge relief when they left the studio revealing again space to start creating again.
The pieces looked like Christo’s work, wrapped and draped:
So I think a total of 24 sculptures and a sketch book to be framed and mounted were all at sea for the last month. Now the anticipation is of them arriving safely from Durban travelling to Graham’s Gallery in Johannesburg for a large solo exhibition titled, ‘Seasons’. This is including the collections, ‘Mother and Child’, The Giants and the collection of heads.
His work explores the human condition and the human form, paring the visible shape down to it’s most minimal to describe the body as a simply a vessel which houses a shared human experience.
‘Seasons’ is a word I have only recently come across, being used as a term to describe the period of time we are in, not only the climatic shift from Winter into Spring. I am in a shifting season I think to match the time of year. Especially in motherhood do we experience extreme and often changing seasons but anyone experiences different times in their life and approaches to those moment. There is always the potential for change.
It seams a little surreal that this month on May 25th it will be the opening to his large solo show. There is still quite a lot of preparation to do before then and the sculptor will have to fly out before hand to check out each pieces do any necessary repairs and set up the exhibition. It’s going to be amazing to see such a collection in a professional space all together.
Friday afternoon I took the boys out of school and headed down to Barnsley, it was busy on the roads but according to my phone we were in good time. The boys had snacks in the back but my youngest wasn’t happy with egg sandwiches as they would make him smell he grumbled. This is the boy who eats enough eggs to warrant me having a chicken farm. My eldest pointed out the sign for Barnsley but ‘no’ I said with trusty faith in my technology, we were coming off at the next junction. So we finally came off the motorway and into some traffic works and something didn’t feel quite right. So I pulled in at a garage and looked at my phone. Somehow, and I have no idea how this happened I was heading to the wrong postcode. Fortunately still in the Barnsley area but I had over shot and we were much further south than we needed to be. So I had to turnaround and head back 20 min north with only 5 minutes until opening time. My eldest who usually joins in with my panic with sound effects was surprisingly ultra supportive in my panic. Reminding me that it was all ok, that we were all ok and we would still get there. That everything was going to be alright. It was a good little test for me. I knew we didn’t need to get there at 4pm on the dot but I do like to get to places on time and it was frustrating. Trying to keep calm I reminded myself to think that for whatever reason we had been sent on a little extended tour getting frazzled wasn’t going to help. It was getting darker, and busier driving into the one way system of the town centre so my tension did increase a little. We found parking easily enough and found the gallery. Only 15 min late.phew and not overly stressed. So by the time I walked in I really needed a moment to compose myself as I then faced this:
It was amazing to see the projection of the video, the black and white photos of the process, and into a space with all 10 glorious sculptures together, with clean white walls and fantastic lighting to set them off. The boys took pictures and their sketchbook around, our youngest a little more keen than the eldest unusually so. The eldest appearing to showing small signs of transforming into a little teenager.
There were just enough people there for the private view to make it intimate and for us to talk to the people who had made the effort to come along. The Civic has some lovely interactive activities for children if you can make it whilst the show is running. We have already seen a few more press articles and photographs which are stunning, more of which you can see on The Sculptor’s Wife Facebook page. or this one below is good, if you have managed to stay off the world of Facebook.
I love the idea of transformation. We all have the ability to change. I think winter is the time to prepare for transformation. This morning the scenery on my way to the shop was stunning. The trees in their bare winter glory stood like silhouettes against a hazy, sleepy, wintry landscape of greys and blues with a bright sun lighting up the valley making it twinkle. The land retreats into a cold crisp coating. We can retreat to contemplate the year past and marinate in stillness on how we deal with things in the moment. So, we can be calmer and focused in those times of stress and panic be it small or big, when you get lost on the road or in life. Using that stillness to have the ability to see beyond the discomfort of the moment and know that ultimately everything is going to be alright.
I have been itching, quite literally, as my eczema has been so bad but an investment in a pair of marigolds seems to be helping with the problem. Suggested by my husband, no problems only solutions. However, that was not my point. I have been desperate to carry on with my sorting and de-cluttering since the boys went back to school on Tuesday. I have been at the shop though, as ever practical, my husband ordered a storage unit for the side of the studio to put in work which is not in exhibition but finished so to create more space in the studio for creating. He has been impatiently wanting this solution for a while.
He booked out a whole day to wait for the delivery, only to be told they couldn’t make it as they needed a special machine. They said they could bring it at 6pm so my husband waited until 7.30pm and it still didn’t arrive. 8am the following morning we received a call saying they were outside the studio. We both wonder why we are so excited about storage and tidying at the moment.
Today, the sculptor was up early (3.30am) again London bound as we have excitedly sold ‘Madame Butterfly’. Then he and his right hand man are heading on to deliver the remainder of the calligraphy collection to the Hannah Pescher sculpture gardens.
So I have been in the shop all week unable to carry on my house de-clutter project. However, since my last post which resonated with many people a dear friend pointed me in the direction of the KonMari method. So, I have had time this week to do a little research. The method has been created by a Japanese lady Marie Kondo.
Japan and all things Japanese are in my blood, it feels or has definitely have influenced the shaping of me in someway. When I was 18 I went to a small village to live and work in a Leonard Cheshire home. At that time I had only ever been to France and Holland, so the culture shock was huge but I embraced and enjoyed the deep and spiritual meaning which seeped into every aspect of the lifestyle and way of being.
This sculpture, ‘Madame Butterfly’ is the outline of a woman wearing a Kimono. A geisha girl. The opera is very much about the meeting of east and west and there is such contrast between the attitudes and styles of the western world and the eastern traditions. As in the simplicity I desire for the home, this style of the theme of work by husband is about stripping back the outline to the simplest form.
Looking into Marie Kondo’s style and her art of tidying was a great reminder of the Japanese art of being and living. Something I have not been doing and not obviously picked up from my time in Japan as I looked last night at the disaster and disorganisation of my domain. So, eager to implement it, I ‘KonMari’ -ed my wardrobe which is where she suggests to start. With clothing. This seems where I have been going wrong. Starting with all my Japanese memorabilia, letters and souvenir boxes was too hard. I need to learn how to sense whether an item ‘Spark’s Joy’ or not. According to her, by the time I have worked through clothes, books, documents and miscellaneous only then can I tackle those things that have meaning.
In just two hours I folded my huge pile of clothes, origami style and feel instantly inspired. Today wearing a skirt I have never worn before, so much so that the boys were shocked this morning and wondered if I was taking them to school with it on. A skirt which I bought in Egypt when I was staying with my sister-in-law for an extended period of time during maternity leave. So immediately the item has a memory, a story attached to the item of clothing and in this case it spark’s joy. Although, I did have to negotiate the steps up to school a little bit unused to the length of dress.
In today’s busy, constant buying and consumer driven world we all seem to have a deep desire to get back to a more basic way of life. Once we have detached from the past we can focus on the here and now and have no fear of the future- this is the theory. Can we put it into practice?
As the sculptor parts with another sculpture to someone who has purchased it as an item which will hopefully spark joy for them, I wonder what to do with my treasured kimono? Defiantly not something practical to be wearing on the school run.
Really surprised that my post of a single puppy image got more ‘likes’ than any of my other post. Why is that, feedback please?
Anyway, I will carry on writing regardless. The Sculptor and our eldest boy have journeyed to school for the past couple of years talking about dreams of living on a farm, building houses and mainly having dogs. I say it in the plural sense as it did get to the point where they were discussing having two Doberman dogs and a German shepherd. However, we always said realistically we could only get a dog when we moved house. I am not sure when that changed?!
Somehow in February the big dog idea turned to a little dog idea after the ‘Artist’ had one of his ‘visions’ and before I even had time to think or argue much in my defence of not having a dog; my husband and I were driving off to a view a little pup unbeknown to the boys.
Our youngest a little more fearful of the canine creature due to being jumped on as an infant and the animal loving eldest were totally amazed and surprised when they came to the studio to find a puppy. ‘Is it ours…to keep?’ The beaming smiles and the moment of stepping out and throwing his hands back in sheer delight were a pleasure to see and almost worth my deep stomach wrenching nerves about the whole endeavour.
To his credit it has not so far, been a five-minute wonder. The eldest has risen to the challenge of the waking early, entertaining and peeing and poo-ing and the all round additional responsibility that comes with the joys of a puppy. Fortunately, it isn’t a big dog but the house does seem to have shrunk all over again with the addition.
Just to make life so much more chaotic in the initial days of puppy initiation, the youngest got sick, the sculptor’s back went kaput and so the sleepless nights just added to the logistical reorganisation of the following days chaos.
So pictures and images of sculptures appearing in Vogue Magazine and galleries in London and Paris and emails of requests for sculptures to exhibit cheer us up and remind us that, “nothing is permanent in this world, not even our troubles.” Charlie Chaplin.
Another London trip done and we now have more pieces in Hay Hill Gallery and also a very significant piece in the opening and lunch of a new gallery primarily focused on sculpture: The Hignall Gallery. Feels a very proud and important moment to have a piece alongside Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Peter Randell Page and many more. The launch for this new gallery opens this week.
Relief. I didn’t make use of the fact it is also a sculptural term. It doesn’t stop though does it. Relief comes and then it’s back to it, there is no rest. The sculptor was back up again in the early hours to load the van and make the journey down to London. This time for an exhibition at The Royal College of Art. ‘Royal’ somehow makes everything sound more prestigious. We shall find out.
He is exhibiting new work which is an exciting theme and style. It harps back to work he made after university. More curvaceous, softer and less abstracted. It echos work of the 1900’s figurative sculpture but with a contemporary modern coating of colour. The germination of many ideas.
The pieces are to be exhibited alongside a huge range of artists in a large group show entitled ‘Flux’ which he has been involved with before. With two previews and various meetings alongside it’s another few days stay away and so I’m back in charge of the business and this time in-amongst nativity and carol concerts, festive songs and lullabies. Someone recently made a comment that these pieces reminded them of Mary (Mariam), mother of Jesus. There is no religious connotations to these pieces but it is interesting what it brings out in people.
At a time when the focus of the Christmas story gets lost in the chaos of consumerism, commercials and Claus I am trying to speak with the boys about the similarities and differences between faiths. What this time of year is really about and why. The other evening whilst having bedtime stories we were talking about the importance of Mariam, a righteous and honourable woman and an example and sign for all people. My eldest always surprising me, pointed out that we are all one family really, we are all brothers and sisters in humanity. Those were his words. How those innocent, heartwarming and important child-uttered wisdom’s get buried as we grow up and start looking at differences and divisions.
The sculptors work encourages these ideas of sameness and humanity. We all have a body in which we house our emotions and we share those same responses of anger, doubt, envy, fear, sadness, joy, love, hope. So at this time of year; for those enjoying the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals, or celebrating festivals of light, or just because of the tradition of having up a stocking or those focusing on the birth of Jesus or the birth of a newborn in the family, finding out your pregnant, or for those mourning a loss, finding this time of year a challenge as we move through this season into a new Gregorian year let us remember the focus of family and unity and join together and transition in the emotions of hope and peace.
This collection represents 10 children aged between four and nineteen. Either standing individually as sculptures alone or as a collective in one large sculpture.
In this concept the presentation is the human body as a vessel. Living in the 21 century we are now able to replace human parts, organs change our physical appearance but this doesn’t change the essence of who we are.
Our bodies are containers filled with emotions that have an impact on us. The colours used on these pieces are inspired by American minimalism in the 1900’s. They symbolize the emotion and the individual.
The sculptures are made from steel pipes used for building construction. The pipes sat in the studio staring at the sculptor and then the concept appeared. They were witnessing his actions. They are the human figure in the simplest form. Each piece has a name from the continents around the world, representing children who suffer directly or indirectly from the decisions and behaviour of adults. Which in turn affects them and their own experiences. What we witness or don’t witness in life shapes us and then make us who we are.
These columns are the bases of something, the foundations, pillars that hold up the building. Our children are the next generation, the future. What are they witnessing today?
The modern day is the witnessing of troubled times, but today specifically is a celebration of a legacy for millions around the world and a message for all of humanity.
“Witnesses” by Sam Shendi