Salah v Shendi and the love of success.

Connections, Egyptian, Public Art, Steel

 

This week has been an extra busy one. A trip to London for the sculptor, there and back in a night and day with no sleep. The sculptures  looking fantastic in 99 Bishopgate, London. A Yorkshire cross-country event, where a select few get medals but the completion of the course is a success unto itself, and Young Voices in Manchester arena for the youngest and I. Where singers stood on stage and talked about it being their childhood dream. Behind them the 6,000 strong children’s choir of which maybe  a handful will become singers. We also had various  mundane doctors and dentist appointments for us all to juggle in through the mix.

It was also my husband’s birthday though sadly the anniversary of his Father’s passing one year ago on the same day. With that and recovering from toothache, the reality of turning another year older was not such a celebration.

Apparently moments after his birth, his father ran with the newborn baby to his parents village to show off proudly the baby boy. My husband grew up in a small village on the Nile delta more than 120 kilometers from Cairo. Born in the 1970’s the landscape was very different to it is today, more fields more open space. He also had a few years of his childhood in Saudi Arabia and Yemen with a mix of family memebers, very opposing experiences in each country. So his whole childhood wasn’t centred in Egypt and wasn’t an easy one. It was almost a bit nomadic in some ways and this, I think created a sort of detachment from people and objects a little. It gave him a self-reliance and a resilience, perhaps.

His life story is different from Salah’s (the Egyptian Liverpool player for those of you who may not know who I am talking about) who was born a number of years later into a modern generation but a comparable village on the Nile delta North of Cairo. Both seem to have a unique determination to succeed from a young age, although perhaps Salah knew his talent was football sooner than Shendi realised it was sculpting. Despite different pursuits they both had a dream and a remarkable journey in pursuing it.

Of course, the fickle footballing world has made Salah’s story that much more accessible than that of my husband’s. Already in a book form suitable for young readers, I have been reading about the young footballer to my youngest son which has been inspiring but brought home the similarity of their roots. The speed to which Salah has gained notoriety is a bit different though. An artists pathway more slow and steady but with the advantage of having a potentially longer career span. My husband gets frustrated that footballers get so much attention and followers and that we become tribal when supporting football teams. He still enjoyed watching the Liverpool matches with us when we were in Egypt though!

Art and football are two antipodal worlds. However, I do think sometimes sport can become an art. Our youngest son loves them both When he doesn’t want to be a professional footballer he wants to be a fashion designer and consequently  Shendi and Salah are both his heroes at the moment. Obviously as his Mother I believe he can do either and I want him to be aspirational. But realistically both are reknowned endeavours which require raw talent, experience and a lot of luck.

It is interesting to me, that what seems to define success at the moment and how the world tends to view success is in terms of material wealth, career and salary. I feel there are more important routes to follow than a material one. People seem very quick to drop their dreams for a security blanket of a job which will enable them to buy the house, the car, the holiday.

Yet if Shendi and Salah can rise up into the art and sporting worlds from small villages in Egypt, overcoming all kinds of obstacles along the way, then it feels like anything is possible. However, one of my favourite quotes from a Disney film is,  “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere”. Having the talent at something has to be a starting point. At what point do these dreams become realised and when is it deemed a success. Why do we love success?

With my eldest I have been reading a book about people who have overcome and endured hardships yet become successful. The message being that failing and flopping is the most important part of succeeding.

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people

into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates

I think that it more obvious when you lose in sport but maybe easier to get back up again but can you ever fail? In Art it is vague in both being successful and knowing when you’ve lost. It seems to me more of a case of enduring the rises and falls but remaining focused on the direction of the dream.  This image below captures so well, ‘Get your dream’, which is perhaps a better way of being successful.

GET YOUR DREAM

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2019 Active and ready.

Colour, Connections, Egyptian, Public Art, Uncategorized
picture for 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Began the summer with a battle, leaving it with love

Colour, Connections, Public Art

Six weeks at home, no holiday away and with the boys off school it has been an interesting challenge. The first week began with a sick bug that meant we started slow and weary but also with the surprise of my brother returning from Australia for three weeks. Well, it wasn’t a surprise for me. I had been keeping it a secret for almost six months from the boys, who were delighted to see their youthful Uncle for the first time in eighteen months. We celebrated his thirtieth and my youngest 8th birthday, had days in the park and the weather was good. Whilst these things were wonderful, the boys are I seemed in daily battles. When my brother came to leave it felt like a huge wrench and I think my tears at his departure were also at the remaining three weeks still left to entertain and occupy the boys which still seemed a huge amount of time.

the widow in dev square

‘The Widow’, Sam Shendi, Devonshire Square London

The sculptor meanwhile has been busy taking pieces to London for installation in Devonshire square which look fantastic. We are now starting to see photographs of them popping up on social media, finally out in the public realm where people can see them.

the bow in dev suqre

‘The Bow’, Sam Shendi, Devonshire square,London

woman in red hat in dev

The back of ‘The Woman in the Red Hat’ and the sculptor in conversation. Devonshire Square

Also in August a piece went to America which was fun and games with DHL, who failed to pick up and then it became a game of endless emails and organisation for it to finally be taken for air freight.  It still hasn’t arrived with the client as it has been stuck in customs. Fingers crossed, ‘The Branch’ will be at its new home soon.

the branch to USA

‘The Branch’, Sam Shendi

We had a visit from an Egyptian painter Nazir Tanbouli whose paintings are like  two dimensional stories and an attractive compliment to the sculptures of Shendi. I felt like I had two artist giants at the dinner table as I nervously prepared my roast lamb dinner. Conversation and discussions about the philosophy behind their work happened in a mix of English and Arabic. Tanbouli posed interesting questions to the boys about how it was having an artist for a father. I too, was put on the spot and fumbled for articulate answers as I juggled the vegetables and the gravy, the dis-advantage  of having the dining table in the kitchen. This is why I write I thought.

2 ARTISTS

Nazir Tanbouli & Sam Shendi in conversation at the studio. Summer 2018

Somehow we slipped into a better rhythm in the second half of the holidays and despite the weather being more temperamental our behaviours and emotions were more measured. I reflected that I envisaged some kind of ideal last holiday before secondary school for my eldest although I am not quite sure what that was. I aptly saw a quote from Anna Lewis, “I wanted you to have an amazing summer. I did because I was with you” which was a great reminder to me of my own intention to be more mindful about being present with the boys and that they won’t be this age again. It’s not always easy when it is every hour of the day for the whole of the holidays but I am grateful that as it ended I could see the positives and the privilege of being able to be at home with them  (ha!).

So now with three/four days back at school I am slowly recharging/recovering and preparing for next week when the sculptor is away for a week at Saatchi gallery with start art fair. This has preoccupied the sculptors mind this summer, preparing for it with work, words and worrying!

So we welcome September with the intention to get back to routine, writing and more blog posts and exciting developments to come.

www.samshendi.co.uk

Public Art

This week has passed so quickly even the boys said it was a fast week. Yet, last night I was convinced it was Saturday today. Strange how that can have the affect of thinking you’ve lost something  along the way. I haven’t quite finished my blog post intended for this week so will have to postpone that for next week. So just a brief and quick one to say after several months we finally have the new website finished. Please take a look.

www.samshendi.co.uk

A journey from creation to situation

collections, Making, Public Art
Hammer Head

Hammer Head. Only Human Collection. Sam Shendi 2017

On Saturday in the early hours of the morning, the sculptor set off to take a number of sculptures down to St.Botolph’s building in Aldgate, London. It’s a long journey there and back in one day and it takes it out of him each time. The sculptures will be  on display for 6 months and dominating the reception area of this modern building.

Some people use only their heads to plough on through, working hard, determined to make a difference. They use their heads for work. It’s quite appropriate then that this sits inside the reception for a Law firm.

hammer head in lon 3hammer head london2Hammer h in london

preparing the hammer head

It is easy to forget once they are inside an industrial building that these sculptures are all hand carved by my husband, it’s so ‘perfect’ looking, with today’s modern industry where things are moulded and formed by machines. My husband’s  philosophy is that art should be beautiful, he has such skill with his hands and traditional sculpture methods which makes me believe he is one of the classic sculptors in our time and we are working to get him known for that. Behind each piece is a philosophy, a story.

The sculptures themsleves go on such a journey from creation, being in the studio, photo shoots and they look different being placed in the ‘outside world’ rather than being in the studio. These have had such a fantastic response on social media which affirms how these works should be out in the public arena wherever possible.

We are all on that journey. From the start, to where we will end up and how we will tunnel our way along. Laid back with no ambition? Meandering along life’s twists turns? Or like a hammer in a relentless and repetitive rhythm to achieve the end result. It is a journey in the making from creation to situation.

To go and view these pieces you can get in touch with info@ARTful.org.uk.

Fall.

collections, Colour, Public Art

21616144_10154704271597015_4069412801957433064_n

This is the first piece in the ‘Only Human‘ collection, ‘Falling into the past’, which looks a little like a yoga pose and one which is very good for opening up your heart space. Below the images shows the red section in that heart space area of the body. Sometimes we need to let go of whatever it is we are holding onto so tightly in order to feel lighter once again.

Fall, feels like such an Americanism but in recent years we have really started to use it here in the UK. I think it is the artists season, the colours, the light, the contrast and the imagery. I recently saw the quote that Autumn is, “natures way of showing is that we need to let go.” We do need to develop an art of letting go, materially and emotionally. It can be a real struggle, we hold on to things unnecessarily. The Buddha said, ‘the root of all suffering is attachment. We can attach ourselves to time, place, people, objects.

In my rough notes for writing this post I have ‘time travelling and Harry potter’ scribbled down which I am not quite sure where I was going with that. Probably something to do with finishing ‘The Cursed Child’ with my eldest which really used the idea of time travel and perhaps I had thought ‘Falling into the past’ had some connection but any deep meaning has escaped me.

This sculpture for me represents the feet firmly placed in the past, the head in the future. The heart space is in the here and now and there we can rest and let go.

Fall

Oh leaves

so gently falling,

drifting to the ground

whilst we stand firm

and dig in our heels,

so proud.

Let us look,

to nature

to learn what we are shown

that change is essential

to become fully grown

so let go 

let’s flow

as we become lighter

brighter 

new ideas are sown.

Oh leaves

so gently drifting

let us learn to be

like the autumn fall

new colours for all to see.

 

 

Getting back into a routine and flow

Colour, Connections, Public Art

Apparently it is 2 months since I last posted and I have been very aware of that fact but I just haven’t been able to sit down and write. It was the summer months with the boys off school and other things seem to have taken over in my to-do list. So I have slowly been getting back into my routine but still need to be a bit more productive when it comes to blogging! I have been a little too preoccupied with Instagram which I have just discovered, although haven’t completely got my head around it yet. I have also done lots of interesting reading. In one book which I will relate to more in my next post (see getting a bit organised!) the chapter opening is entitled, ‘Flow. The Genius of Routine. Routine , in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition -W.H. Auden.  Although, generally my husband I would describe is not quite a creature of habit as am I but when it comes to the studio he definitely is in a routine and it pays off. Over the summer the following pieces went to new homes:

Defeated Butterflies, in his new home in Johannesburg

‘The Wedding Dress’ in her new home in Johannesburg

 

 

‘The King and Queen’, in their new home in SouthSea

‘Witnesses’ in the entrance to the Tennis Club in South-sea

Press Article in South Africa

 

Creative Education

Colour, Connections, Public Art, Relationships
family portrait

Family Portrait (2016)

I thought that following my perhaps, sorrowful sounding poem, in my last post; I should qualify that I don’t in anyway regret the decision to stop rowing. I had a fleeting thought where I wondered why I didn’t follow through with doing the PGCE course at Cambridge, from where I could have followed through with rowing after my degree more easily than rowing out of London but I wouldn’t be where I am now if that had happened. Fate. My parents are both teachers and coincidently both ‘the sculptor’s’ parents were. I feel there is something about education which is in our blood, but both myself and my two siblings have probably intentionally avoided it. Which is why I probably didn’t go through with the PGCE course!

So my relationship with my boys education is quite impassioned. After going to parents evening the other week it is apparent that both boys are naturally creative. I guess it’s in the genes. As much as I am impressed by both their individual teachers and the creativity that has been covered. I wish for them a more creative led education system. I am not sure this current system will display the bright sparks they are. But does that really matter?

Part of me wishes that I had the energy, resources and space to home school them. So that learning could be child-creative led. In today’s world I am not sure there is such a need to be solely focused on Maths and English and the level for a 6 year old seems absurd. I am not sure I could answer some of the SAT’s questions on the Key stage one paper. Yet they also do interesting topic work but I am not sure what that teachers them per say.

right brainEducation should not be about ticking boxes or getting grades. It should be about learning, exciting and encouraging learning as a life long process. My six year old’s teacher said that, ‘you can tell he sees drawing as work’. However, if you ask him what he likes at school he will say, “Art” and what he doesn’t like is “working”. Surely all learning needs to be seen as fun for as long as possible. If sitting a six year old down for fractions and finding a verb in a sentence is hard work it leave little for when they are 16 surely.

I also think achievement in school does not necessarily correlate with life achievement or career achievement.  It is difficult to compare my husband’s education, he was schooled in Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia and Fate. His education really started when he was at university in Cairo, which was free but that’s a whole other issue. So I could rant on but instead will  introduce this new collection. The Family Portrait, it is one of a set which is a smaller sized collection which I will try and cover over the next few weeks.

The story of Atlas

collections, Connections, Public Art

The ancient Greeks told tales of giant beings called Titans. The sculptor and I might have been cleverer to call this collection The Titans but perhaps ‘The Giant collection ‘is more straightforward. One Titan’s name was Atlas, he was the leader in a war against Zeus, the sky and thunder-god Zeus. After the defeat of the titans Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of the earth and hold the heavens on his shoulders to prevent the earth and sky resuming their primordial embrace.

 

greco-roman-statue

Greco Roman Statue

There has been a misconception that Atlas carries the world on his shoulders as classical sculpture often shows Atlas holding the celestial sphere but it has been misunderstood to be a globe. Atlas therefore embodies the celestial axis and is the personification of endurance as he was a sentence to hold up the sky for eternity.

 

 

 

In later myth he finally turns to stone and becomes what we know now as the Atlas Mountains. Around 500 years ago Mercator made a book of maps and named it an Atlas, Keeper of the World.

In classical European architecture an, ‘atlas’ is a support sculpted in the form of a man, which takes places of a column. Named ‘Atlantes’ these express extreme effort in their function. Head is often bent forward to support the weight of the structure above them across their shoulders.

atlas-from-below-2

Atlas (2016) Sam Shendi

Here, in this contemporary version of Atlas, Shendi depicts the head bent forward but in an almost ironic twist we see across this titan’s shoulders a collection of birds.

This sculpture depicts the notion that today we carry a weight on our shoulders, which often isn’t as heavy as we might believe. Most of humanity share similar experiences and memories that can weigh us down. The use of colour in this piece represents memories and emotions. The figure here represents us, the birds our problems, which have become larger than the reality of them.

Birds perched together decreases the risk of predators and they usually choose places to roost, which are safe. The size of this giant hasn’t prevented the birds from staying. We associate ‘giants’ with the idea that they have power or a physical presence over us. In this case the birds are the more empowered presence. Just as we can sometimes not shake off our worries or the past, this giant man is unable to shake off the birds.

birds

“That great giant, Atlas, whose shoulders bear the circling sky.” Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 172. Birds often circle the sky following migratory patterns using the sun to navigate by day and the stellar compass at night which depends on the constellations. So they have a need for this ‘Atlas god of astronomy and navigation.

So this piece is heavy in it’s symbolism, rich in its references to classical art and architecture and also brings to modern society a philosophical idea and message that sometimes we need to let go of the heavy burden which weighs us down. Especially here in the ‘western’ world where our problems by comparison should be fleeting.