Stars and Stories

Connections, Mother and Child, Philosophy

On Monday evening my youngest and I went running with a running club. It wasn’t easy for me. However, it was a great start in my personal challenge of getting fit again. We were with a group of six children and in between relays, as it was such a clear night, I pointed out the plough to them. We probably could have seen many more constellations, I think Orion’s belt was even visible. It was amazing really and gave me a sneaky way of getting my breath back.

Constellations. Sam Shendi. 2018

Usually I wouldn’t post photos of the work in the studio without the white backdrop but this sculpture: ‘Constellations” didn’t get a chance of a photo shoot before she (I think she is totally feminine) was purchased by a private collector.

If you have only been interested in the Mercury in the new film Bohemian Rhapsody then you may not have realised that we have been in a Mercury retrograde which if I have followed it correctly basically means that three or four times a year Mercury passes earth in orbit and appears to stop and then spin backwards. Apparently this can cause communication crisis, frustrations and confusions. Usually I can be quite tapped into this kind of phenomenon but I don”t think I have been overly clumsy and frustrated. I think that just comes with the territory of being the mother of boys and naturally clumsy! However, this time is supposed be a good one for letting go of ways that no longer serve you and releasing troubled thoughts and bitter words. So let go.

It’s the season of the year for moons and stars. Hopefully all aligned again in time to welcome the winter solstice on the 21st.

“Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being” – Rumi.

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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?

toy7

‘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.

cropped-pink-for-cover.jpg

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

 

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.

cityscape 7

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.

Fragile mind, fragile heart, fragile world.

Colour, Connections, Philosophy, Soul searching

 

 

 

Often my husband uses different colours for the feet or legs, perhaps to be different. In this sculpture though the socks and body are covered in multi coloured hearts.

The boys went to school in odd socks…actually as I write that, I am wondering if the youngest one forgot that part of the criteria, too busy assembling his ripped jeans and leather jacket for non-uniform day. The eldest forgot the £1 donation and we got grid locked in traffic. So it wasn’t the most peaceful start to World Mental Health day but the sunshine quickly came out and a beautiful walk with my mum brought about the peace. Mental health isn’t just one day though, it is all the time. There has been a real push in the last couple of years to spread awareness, raise awareness and promote well-being. I think the business of work, life and technology and over stimulation of all out senses hinders our appreciation of small things and the ability to slow down. Although there is a real rise and reason in slow living and slowing down.

A number of sculptures that my husband has made delves into mental health issues. The entire ‘Mother and Child’ collection looked into the idea of depression within motherhood. The giant series we think was made through a period of time when my husband was working through a period of depression. These hand carved pieces a raw therapy in physical labour.

Oceans full of plastic, de-forestation and over farming, we take for granted the earth’s resources. There is an increase in natural disasters (although is this just a result of global communication and reporting). The world is fragile.

This piece is the second full size horse that the sculptor has created and part of a  reoccurring theme with pieces such as ‘Troy’, ‘The Ride’ and ‘Mane’ and other smaller pieces. This one is imposing (see image below of sculptor next to sculpture) also impressive but the delicate hearts soften it suggesting the fragility and  a femininity on an otherwise masculine looking sculpture. The horse is recognised for strength and resilience and yet there is also fragility. A vulnerability when they are no longer used for the purpose for which they are kept.

fragile 6

‘Fragile’ by Sam Shendi. 2018

fragile scale

Sculptor with Sculpture to show scale

This sculpture also acts as a pair to ‘Defeated Butterflies’, the bull, which went to South Africa. The difference with this piece is the cone-shaped head, a use of abstraction but with meaning. The triangle is a symbol of stability with an aim of reaching the top yet turned to the side suggest a risk, an unbalance. Furthermore, used as a trinity in Christianity and in Ancient Egyptian mysticism. Perhaps in this case, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being. The geometric red block with straight and angular lines contrasts to the curvaceous form of the body softened with the dancing coloured hearts representing our emotions. The heart is caged within the ribs yet still gets broken. The heart is fragile no matter what strength or powerful body is encasing it.

Emotions are powerful and affect our thoughts. We are what we think. The mind is a powerful thing and we can get caught up in over thinking and ego. We can smile but bite away tears. We can be determined but feel doubtful.  If we were all more holistic, happier and healthy perhaps the earth itself would be stronger. Just as our thinking can affect our well-being perhaps our general well being affects the consciousness of the earth.

Checklist to think about this weekend to improve mental health:

  1. Sleep
  2. Cut out Caffeine
  3. Be active
  4. Do something for someone else
  5. Eat well
  6. Get some sunshine/Time outdoors
  7. Stay Social
  8. Keep an eye on unhealthy habits
  9. Manage Stress
  10. Have fun.

p.s. Technology is also fragile. I had to completely re-write this as somehow the scheduling didn’t work and neither did it save it.Grrrrrr. Not sure it is as well written this time but I have managed to re-do it at least and get it posted on Friday!Fragile 1

 

 

 

Who on earth was Anthony Bourdain?

collections, Philosophy, Soul searching, Uncategorized

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

widow11

Widow, 2017 Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

collections, Connections, Philosophy

 

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

'Dunce' 2018 Sam Shendi

‘Dunce’ 2018 Sam Shendi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tiptoe, Tully and I .

collections, Mother and Child, Philosophy, Relationships

Last night as I stood at the sink washing up, I finally got an idea about my writing this week. Every six or seven weeks I go to the homeopath and initially it was for my eczema but it has helped unravel a whole lot more. Yesterday’s session peeled back another layer of the onion. The problem is, what ever ideas were flowing to me whilst I bathed the dishes in washing up liquid they are not quite streaming to me this morning as I write. I knew I should stop and write them down but the boys were bashing each other upstairs and I needed to get the pots cleared up so I could go and sort them out. The sculptor was at the studio, if you were wondering.

At bedtime, sometimes the sculptor (from a culture with a history and background of oratory) and also with his imagination tells stories from his head but more often that not it is I who reads to them every night. Except this week, I have used the consequence of their brotherly squabbles turning into tears, as a reason for them going to bed early. Which actually last night, I pondered is probably slightly counter productive, as I  think reading to them calms them down before bed. “I think left, I think right” (Dr Seuss). However, we have all been slightly under the weather so the thought of sitting in-between two snotty coughing boys was not so enticing.

This cheeky sculpture is now in Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer which opens May 12th.

tiptoe outdoors

Tiptoe, looking like a Dr Seuss creature exploring in the woods.

It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss character ‘Cat in the hat’ with the red and white stripes. I have loved reading his books to the boys and as much as they haven’t grown out of picture books, poetry and reading time, the boys put them in the pile to give away. It is hard passing on books but when you have limited space there are only so many books you can keep. I am trying not to discourage them  as they always put the strangest things on the discard pile and keep the little odd plastic bits! In our house this week it has felt a little bit like a Dr Seuss book. We have all got into the habit of speaking in rhyme the biggest culprit, well guess! Honestly it is a mad house. I think living with an artist it is bound to be.

Over the last two weeks I keep seeing the trailer for the movie Tully. It immediately resonated with me, as it will probably do for most mothers. But I also really felt, from the brief snippet of the film, that it portrayed my life over the last ten years. I hadn’t realised at the time but when our eldest was one years old we opened our own business and so my husband had to pour into that. So I guess I was home with the baby ( or in Egypt where I spent 2 months of my maternity leave).  This year marks our ten-year business-owning anniversary. Within that time though, we had two boys and I stopped any paid work, so my role has been one of pouring into them. Often, when we are within something we can’t see what is happening and I very easily forgot to re-fill myself. I have been learning about self-care over the last 18 months, a bit like when you are on an aeroplane, they tell you to put your own mask on first before your children. You can’t pour from an empty vessel. I have often looked at other mothers and wondered how they had so much energy and attention. My sleep deprivation definitely had an effect on all areas of my life. Even with the power of knowledge and hindsight ten years later, sleep deprive me for a night and I am not fit for much.

From what I gleaned from the trailer of the movie, a woman called Tully comes to care for the mother in the film, played by Charlize Theron, who still looks pretty good despite gaining 50 pounds for the role. I guess everyone needs a Tully to come and care for them. I think this is what we lack in the west now as we live and bring up our families in isolation. Perhaps, the African proverb , ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ has underlying wisdom. So, this past year I have sourced a kind-of care from several woman globally and I feel I am slowly coming back to the woman I was. The woman I am. Not the Sam I am (that’s the sculptor and Dr Seuss talking again).

We tiptoe around motherhood in so many ways. Although we may not be able to get a Tully in our lives ( I will have to see the film and probably should have before writing this post) but if you can then do. More importantly you can affect your own life with the story you are telling yourself. Stay positive, words are powerful and find your own inner Tully.

dr seuss

Links for woman needing any help rejuvenate themselves!

May 13-19thwoman’s health 

For un uncluttered life, become unstuck with Allie

Mother like a boss with Kendra

Get fit with Zehra at The Fit nest or Yoga with Adriene

If you are local and looking for a homeopath :

Emma Colley

or

https://wwwfindahomepath.org

Sculptural sins of the soul with gossip girl and brutish back biter into mortal flesh.

collections, Philosophy, Soul searching

Back biter 2I’m going for a catchy title, I played around with it and I am not really sure it makes any sense. Anyway, if you’ve ever seen any of the Alien film series, especially the latest one you might think this has come out of it. It is defiantly ones of the most unusual pieces in my husband’s collection. Although it is meaty. The teeth here are so clear,  dominant and like the hostile life forms of  ‘Alien: Covenant’, back biting breeds.

Last week after out road trip we had our bi-annual trip to the Dentist. Our youngest asked the Dentist directly, why don’t we come more regularly. I am so grateful for out teeth and gum health but he may have slightly tempted fate as the Dentist told me that both boys will need braces once all their adult teeth have come through. There is something about the mouth that symbolises a vulnerability. “Teeth as a symbol might imply inner aspects of ourselves that we don’t recognize, possibly the ego is being provoked or challenged”(Dream Dictionary.org). But we do need to look closely at ourselves.

This sculpture is an abstraction, but the teeth are in this case biting itself. The idea that speaking about others behind their backs is as abhorrent as “eating the flesh of ones dead brother.” It may seem like a gruesome subject but it is one which is evidently breeding today.

Perhaps the three legs in this sculptural piece depict the three birds shot with a single arrow in the Chronicles of Lorraine. Godefroy de Bouillon , Duke of Lorraine besieged the city of Jerusalem by a shot of an arrow at the tower of David and three birds were pierced with the single arrow. This event became a prophecy of the royal dignity and the meaning was taken as ” Whoever back bites someone shoots a flaming arrow and wounds three people at once: himself, his listener and his adversary.” The back-biter corrupts the ears of the one listening to the gossip, the backbiter themselves become known for taking about others and the one whom they are speaking badly of. “Rather, he commits a triple murder, for we all have three lives: the life of the soul, which is the fruit of grace; the life of the body, which we hold in common with animals; and our social life, which depends upon our good name. Now, the backbiter attacks these three lives. He attacks the life of soul and body in himself and in his listener, and he attacks the social life of the person he backbites. Such are the evils that backbiting breeds.”

I think my husband made this with the idea and the visual images of how woman historically have been known to gossip. However, in today’s society I think men and woman do it just as much as each other. With social media and the volume of information we put out in cyber world about ourselves and our lives, we play into that field of talking about others and not directly to them. Thomas Aquinas classified it as a mortal sin. “The back-biter does the most harm to himself, for the stone he casts at another will almost always fall back upon his head”. (Artabanus, Apud Herod, Book 7). Back biting isn’t good for us or a healthy past-time.

There is still an elegance to this piece, literally as I write, has just been requested for a stunning outdoor setting (more to follow). Teeth look powerful and aggressive where as our tongue sensitive and we might think more sensual  but it is out tongues we need to be wary of. As with most of the sculptor’s work there is a meaning and a message to the work. “If you examine yourself well, you will never back-biter others.”
(Saint Bernard,e inter. Dom, Chapter 42)

Back Biter, Rudimentary Collection 2017.

 

Rudimentary, my dear…

collections, Old Masters, Philosophy

…Watson, is what I want to say everytime we mention the ‘Rudimentary collection’ but before I go into a break down of each piece. I thought I would post this video for you to get the artist’s insight into this collection. This collection is more abstract than other so it is interesting to hear the thought process behind the work.

Video Clip below:

Understanding other cultures (and sculptures)

collections, Connections, Egyptian, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching
21687546_10154704271297015_4363395845708369774_n

‘Defender’ 2017 Only Human Collection

This was the first piece the sculptor made in ‘The Only Human’ collection and I am writing about it last as we round-up this collection of work. At the moment a few of this collection are on display in London, until the end of August. (link)

If you have spent time within a different culture then you’ll know how sometimes somethings can seem baffling, unusual and can challenge your way of thinking. Alternatively there are experiences which can be preferable or that you may want to adopt. Either way a new or different culture can open us up to a new ways of seeing.

When I was younger I remember my Father, who is a teacher, doing a school assembly on the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant , it cleverly demonstrates how a person can have one way of seeing something very differently to another and it affecting their interpretation of that idea. Culture can be very much like that.

I was fortunate to spend time in Japan at the age of 18 which opened my eyes to sights, sounds, smells and tastes that were totally new to me. My first image of a lady walking a cat on a lead, wearing what looked like a surgical mask over her face was definitely a diary entry. Green tea that tasted bitter, bland tofu and miso fish was a first meal that made me wonder if I would survive my 6 months there, such a lover of food am I. This was also back in the days before we had any of these food flavours and products available in the UK. Now matcha lattes and ramen bowls are all on trend. My eldest even requested sushi for one of his school lunches! Japanese food in lots of small little bowls and chop sticks whilst siting on the floor was certainly something I fell in love with, along with the house design and contemplation of nature and tranquility.

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‘Madame Butterfly’ Calligraphy collection

On Saturday evening we went to see the Opera, Madame Butterfly, a Christmas gift from my parents.  My husband had already seen it before in Cairo which had inspired him to make the sculpture above, titled after the opera and a very different style and material to ‘Defender’. The Alhambra opera used shadows in the performance at at the weekend to depict some of the scenes. So I loved the connection between the set design and this piece.

The Japanese culture could be summed up in two words, honour and respect and this is very much what fuels the tragic ending of the opera. Japanese design and living is about capturing the beauty then discarding the rest.  ‘Madame Butterfly’, the sculpture from the Calligraphy collection (also a Japanese art form) nods to this etiquette in that it is displaying only what is essential in exploring outline rather than playing with form.

In contrast to ‘Madame Butterfly’, ‘Defender’ is all mass and form. It is interesting how seeing something from a different angle can influence how we look at something. Writer, Cherry Smyth when first viewing this piece describes; “In ‘Defender’ (2016) the buffed, open arms of the upright, stocky animal –human hybrid end in what could be black hooves. It tilts its head as if ready to take on anything that comes, and its stolid black and yellow torso is built to impress. For Shendi, the figure represents the ‘defender we all need from time to time.’ It could also suggest the super-ripped gym bodies we increasingly seek, that render the limbs less agile and flexible for the sake of a pose of durability.”

The sculptor didn’t make ‘Defender’ with Egypt in mind, but it was a consideration for placing in an outdoor area in Cairo at one point. The idea of needing a defender is fitting for Egypt and the contrast between these two sculptures is very much like the Japanese and Egyptian culture.

My next big culture experience was at 21 in Egypt, I cried at the airport in Cairo not wanting to leave at the end of my travels. This was way before I was to meet my own Egyptian Sculptor. Funny how fate intervenes. My heart planted a root unbeknown to me. But travelling for a few weeks through a country is not the same as being immersed in one. Although I have since been back several times and am now married to an Egyptian. Egypt is a complex one and certainly less ordered, neat and tidy than the Japanese. It’s almost antithetical in every way.

CLASH is an Egyptian film set in Cairo during the 2013 protests. It portrays the claustrophobic intimacy of a police vehicle where the viewer witnesses the intense heat, no water and over crowded conditions of the van. In many ways it parallels the country as a whole. The individuals in the van display kindness and anger within seconds. Emotions flare up in all directions and we see the injustice, senseless behaviour that is a country at war with itself as so are the people it is made up of. Perhaps, ‘Defender’ is for those moments like in the van, breaking down barriers, pushing past the intensity of the stiffling experience and the personalities which almost smother each other.

It’s hard to sum up Egypt in two words and that really says it all. It is a multitude of attacks on all the senses. Yet the exotic history, heat, passion and flare all give it a romanticism that entices you in. There is a saying once you have tasted the waters of the Nile you have to go back. Maybe, that is for the ‘foreigner’ but for the Egyptian, the corruption and disorder and preference for the outsider make it a very different reality.

Just like with these art works I could not choose which culture I prefer over the other. They both appeal to different sides of me. Perhaps two parts that reside in all of us. We can often choose to dig in our heels and defend what we first think to be our opinion about things. It’s often a good idea to check our thinking and question why we have that point of view.

Only then can we understand others but, not only that, we can understand ourselves.

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‘Defender’ side angle