Victoria, Anne and Matilda

collections, Colour, Connections

September is gone and October arrived and with it so many butterflies. Victoria and Anne and Matilda are sat round the table doing free flowing writing exercises, like the Bronte sisters did. I only know that because last week I went to a poetry workshop in Haworth. Lead by the poet Clare Shaw with her beautifully broad Lancashire accent who poetically spoke of Emily, Anna and Charlotte as though we were there with them. Names. Interesting how we name things and they become so. For these sculptural cocoons my husband named them old Queens of England. Read into this whatever you like; history, identity, nationality, royal family.

The philosophy of these pieces is based upon something the famous sculptor Michelangelo is quoted for, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”. As though there is a life form within the material being manitpulated, asking for release,  finding a way for freedom from the restraints within the cocoon of medium. My husband’s sculptural journey is often  exploring ‘within’,looking at keeping that statue trapped. Not allowing the ‘breaking free’ process to occur and focusing on the development of the chrysalis. As the sculptor, I suppose this is his licence, to keep it under wraps.  A butterfly just tapped on the window, as I write which gives me a sign I am on the right track.

My interest is in the naming. The famous sculpture of Michelangelo is ‘David’. When we view the sculpture ‘David’ we see a carved figure of a human form. It is unlike earlier Renaissance depictions of ‘David’, the biblical hero standing over Goliath. Michelangelo’s pose is before the battle actually takes place. Over time sculptural practice changes and develops with shifts in materials, philosophy, ideas, the things that inform the world around us. As much as we can still carve materials into almost exact replicas of things, there has to be an evolution to creativity. My husband is making reference to the title of ‘David’ by naming the art work female names in the same way. This creates a story around the sculpture and asks the viewer to question the form. It  suggests that the figure is within the form but additional addresses the idea of what the human form actually is and to think of the body as simply a vessel, to look beyond shape. This concept is prevalent in much of my husband’s work. He is exploring the idea that we are so much more than our bodies  but congruently, sculpturally, this collection is all about form, shape, mass, volume.

Almost at the same time as this collection was completed my husband won a project  which we currently have to keep ‘under wraps’.  A project which has meant a trip to London yesterday for the sculptor. The link between the titles of these sculptures and the up and coming project is a little bit like my constant observation of butterflies. All signs and symbols that everything is unfolding as it should.

 

The Metamorphosis Collection

Fall.

collections, Colour, Public Art

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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.

 

 

Strange Sensations and Slow art

Colour, Connections, Exhibitions, Public Art, Soul searching

The first week of the holiday ended and I had felt smug at how well I had managed the days with the relentless rain and keeping busy. Yoga, breathing and letting it all flow working with me well. However by the second week with less yoga practice and illness I felt personal tested because the weather was so good. I had had several ideas for active boys but I have had the most odd and strange fever. It sounds dramatic but when you have an infection it is as though an alien has taken over your body. However, it makes you grateful for your health and appreciate that for some people who can be their state of being on a more permanent basis.

So for the last weekend of the holidays, feeling a little bit more normal I planned to take the boys to a local museum where I had seen a little advert for ‘slow art day’ with a child friendly image of a tortoise. I thought that would suit us all as it was about the pace I was working at – tortoise pace. When I looked into a bit more I realised it wasn’t a kids holiday making activity but an annual event celebrated around the world with the idea of taking time to look and appreciate 5 pieces of art work and then discussing it. I think this is a fab idea but I couldn’t envisage not feeling hundred percent with two boys on the run, more at a hare’s pace, in a gallery space.

This was the general theme of the holidays, having plans and then them not quite happening, always a good lesson to learn. So here are some images of our own slow art the boys did at home and over the holidays on the rainy days.

slow art

Having a first day to myself yesterday after the two-week holiday with the boys, I went for a walk and realised walking helps me to think through ideas. It enables me to hear my voice in the peaceful sounds of nature. My husband has been busy working through an idea in clay, a preparation for a larger piece. He was telling me how he has realised he carves the whole thing in his mind before hand almost like watching himself do it in his mind’s eye.

On my walk, I took a moment to sit on a bench in a field with a large oak tree and a stream running through it eat. I noticed something I hadn’t seen before, a plaque with a poem by William Henry Davis:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

So I sat, ate my apples and reflected. I am conscious I am always hurrying the boys and think about articles about ‘The hurried child’. It is important to slow down and do things at a pace that makes us appreciate. My husband is driving with loyal driver and designer Anthony Hartley to Surrey to put these pieces (images below) in the wonderful Hannah Peschar sculpture garden. So if you are in that neck of the woods (odd expression but seemed appropriate) then take a slow wander around the beautiful surroundings amongst stunning sculptures and works of art.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.Henry David Thoreau

Bird now orange

‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi

Ride now purple

‘The Ride’ by Sam Shendi

An answer to Moore’s Daughter; ‘all is not lost, there is form in Shendi’

Mother and Child, Old Masters, Public Art

Mother and child ouline 1

‘Mother and Child’ by Sam Shendi 2015

Two people very independently but both very close and beautiful souls sent me the article in The Guardian which Mary Moore (Henry Moore’s Daughter) states that Hirst has sent art back by 100 years. Perhaps they could see that the article would interest me on a number of levels.

Mother and child ouline 5

Mother and Child, from the back

Mother and child outline 3

‘Mother and child’

Exploring the human figure, shape and ‘finding freedom within form’ are the focus of much of both sculptor’s pieces. Observing the human condition, using the human figure, reclining or mothers and child a link of the source of inspiration. In fact some of the earlier work of my husband’s has a very Moore like quality to it. But, dare I say  I believe my husband’s work continues the line of work that Moore started.

It is all about seeing things within that form and from different angles. Looking at the images of this piece every angle in a digital images looks like a different image. Like Mary says about her father’s work, about ‘exploring the invented object’ in front of you.’ In a modern 21st century contemporary setting with the addition of colour and focus on outline in an attempt of abandoning form as a mass, my husband’s work takes it to the next stage in development, thought process or idea. Yes artists like Damien Hirst may be relying on the title and have put the form back in the frame. However, there is always a reaction and response within the art world. Laconic titles such as ‘Mother and Child’ which my husband uses harps back to old masters such as Moore, giving you an indication to the form but allowing you to use your own imagination and interpretation for the rest.

Mother and child outline 6

Mother – in yellow and pink, Child – red and blue

Mother and child ouline 7

‘Mother and Child’

We have become a two-dimensional digital age , a world of flat screens and it is why education is increasingly important about shape and form. Otherwise these skills will be lost. It was so interesting reading what Moore’s Daughter said about her childhood with her father as a sculptor, playing with clay, thinking about thees qualities of light, shape and space. I observe the boys interaction and how they relate to their father, the sculptor in similar ways. Although this winter the studio has been a little out-of-bounds, we are all looking forward to the sunnier warmer days of playing round the studio. In the article which was highlighting the new exhibition of Henry Moore’s work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Moore said she hoped the show would encourage people “to explore what is in front of them with an open mind and in a fresh way, so that they might re-evaluate or see things that they have never seen, understand things they have never understood. I hope it generates excitement about sculpture.” I think my husband’s work is creating small slow ripple of excitement in the art world and I really hope one day we will be able to get his work into Yorkshire Sculpture park. Seeing Shendi alongside Moore, what a spectacular way of seeing sculpture that would be.

mother and child outline 2

The shadows create additional images

Mother and child 4 outline

‘Section of Mother and Child’

The yoga in art

Colour, Connections, Galleries

'Mother and Child'

‘Mother and Child’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: Sukhasana

 

…or the art in yoga, art of yoga, yoga of art? I can’t decide which is more appropriate.

yoga pose

‘Conversation with a bird’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: Paripurna Navasana

 

I have moments where I make discoveries, like little light bulb moments. Ones where you want to stand on the roof tops or a mountain and shout it out loud. Well, I say that but I can’t imagine myself doing that even if there was nobody watching. The point is something clicks and then you want that something to click for everyone else. You know those things are going to help transform you. However, I have also come to learn that you can’t make other people have that click, they too have to discover it for themselves. I guess that is what makes us all different and what works for some of us doesn’t for others.

art and yoga

‘The pommel horse’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: SvargaDvidasana

 

So using this blog as my mountain to shout from, my most recent discovery is yoga. It is helping me with a whole manner of things. Carving out time for myself everyday, exercise a little, focus on a better diet and helping me digest. It gives me balance. Balance in all things. The more we are able to physically balance our bodies and manage our breath it seems to give space to allow us to flow through the motions of everyday tasks with a greater ease.

stretch art

‘Discus’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose:Parivrtta Trikonasana

 

The pace of life is so fast these days that we need time to stop and connect to our breath, to be aware of what is happening around us rather than going through the motions mindlessly. Stretching out is something I realised I needed to do. We can focus on energizing ourselves and in turn this gives us more energy for others.

‘The gymnast'

‘The gymnast’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: AdhoMukhaVrksasana

 

My husband’s work is primarily focused on the human body, the human figure. It is what sculptors have focused on for centuries. With the aim of minimising, you can see a progression through theses images from earlier work to most recent work attempting to strip down the body to a simple line. Each showing movement and flow. What is fundamental in each piece though is balance and a harmony of lines vertically and horizontally.

the bow yoga pose

‘The Bow’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: Garbhasana

 

I gave myself a 30 days of yoga challenge at the start of the year which has helped me transition from the warmth of Egypt at the end of the year to grey January in the UK.  I would definitely recommend the energizing and enthusiastic Yoga with Adriene which I have been doing online for a while. Amazingly she takes live classes in an art gallery which as they are in Austin, Texas I am unable to get to! but in finding that out that discovered there are lots of yoga classes taking place in gallery spaces – what a great idea. Can’t find any in the UK though?

Body lang 1

‘Body Language’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: Ardha Matsyendrasana

 

The images of my husband’s work are all of body movements I have roughly labelled them with a yoga pose, but they are by no means accurate. I am sure yogi experts would make corrections. Please do. Yoga was not the thinking behind the design of these sculptures but there are such strong connections. There is a beautiful mind, body, spirit link between yoga and art. Take the time to slow down and meditate on life, meaning, yoga and art.

Namaste

Journeys

Making, Philosophy, Soul searching, Steel

…..And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Robert Frost poem ‘The road not taken’ has always been one of my favourites, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference could be an epithet of my husband’s and mine. It is starting to become clearer that the creative process is a journey. Not that we didn’t know that, but we are at point where we can reflect backwards and look forwards more. My husband’s work is truly evolving, progressing in a way which seems meant to be.

His work started in clay, because that was what we could afford and with space limitations, the scale we could manage. So his hands gave form to clay.

'image from one of my very first blog entries of the making process'

‘image from one of my very first blog entries of the making process’

clay work

‘Early Clay work’

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‘Mother & Child’, example of the focus on outline

He always talked to me about his attempts to produce an outline.  Distinctly remembering a co-student at university who was doing beautiful paintings but putting a black line around everything, when the tutor had commented that, that isn’t how we see things, the student replied back , it was how he saw things. Thus began my husband’s obsession with trying to create the black outline of a 3D object. Almost an annihilation of the body and form and a preoccupation of what makes it so. Theses paintings show the idea and the exploration of that a line gives.

painting outline

Mother and Child painting

painting outline 2

‘Black outline with colour’

My own personal spiritual journey mirrors that of the sculptural journey,  removing the focus on our body and form and seeking a deeper meaning and purpose to this life. So with the clay sculptures it was very much about the light and shadow and minimising the human form with curvature. With a little bit of expansion into wood, he developed a series of wooden forms with small figurines exploring the human condition but still looking at the idea of the outline that was being created. The more we strip away at our own personal desires and take away the superficial aims of money and materials, what are we here for?

‘Wood and figurine’

As a teenager my time working in a nursing home for the elderly gave me a stark reality that the time here is fleeting and that in old age we physically become a shadow of ourselves in youth. There must be a deeper meaning to it all. As we verge on the cusp of our spiritual retreat, precious days to focus on our hearts. Time to reassess, re-prioritize and recognize the most important things in our lives.  To understand what we are doing here. “Where, then, are you going?”

DSCF4517

‘at a crossroads’

With the meeting of a steel fabricator there was movement into a new medium, enabling the shape of the human figure to be minimised more. In almost a fusion of the clay work and the wooden work a new series was created. The light and shadow create the outline in much of this pyramidal and obelisk work.

Sculpture 41

‘Steel minimisation of the human form’

The addition of colour became a uniting tool for the journey of sculptures and enabled another layer of meaning to be visual presented. Emotions and ideas, the sculptures now in a state of consciously making us ask questions.

family tree

‘Family Tree’

‘Souls’ became the laconic title of the next body of work but in this case the souls of sculptures compressed into the minimal form. If our human body is like the clay then the soul is a distinct other entity within the human framework and has three states of existence, base desire, that which our bodies need to survive, secondly the soul in a state of consciousness when we start questioning and discerning and a final stage  where one is at peace and rest. The purification and development from the first to the third is a life long pursuit. A wrestling between each stage, a honing and a shaping of our inner reality.

Evolution and maquette

‘Evolution’ maquette and final piece

Stripping the figure right down to its most minimalistic form resulted in the ‘Evolution’ both in the title of this piece and the progression into a new theme of work. In keeping with the philosophy of our bodies being merely a vessel for the energy that makes us. What are we without our bodies. Taking away the matter, the material and focusing on what gives us shape.

Wedding d

‘Wedding Dress’ combination of minimal form and mannequin parts

The college effect of using steel and mannequin parts also another part of the journey that came about from the idea of mixing both realism and minimalism together. It can sometimes be a struggle, living in day-to-day reality whilst maintaining a connection with an unseen reality but the reward is endless.

‘The Smoker’ became a turning point for a new idea. Using car exhaust parts to form an idea, an outline.

smoker 1

‘smoker’

In nature there is no outline, all that is created is seen by what appears in front or behind. What is the reality of what we are seeing? We only see an edge because of the layers of things. So the line of the house I see outside the window is only visible because of the clouds behind it. In these images of new work not yet finished (so a sneak preview) the beginning of a new stage in the development of the sculptural journey can be seen. A new material enabled an exploration of ideas, in full circle a return to the initial curvature and idea of line . It redefines or explores further the idea of the outline, taking it to the next level in abandoning the matter within completely and focusing purely on the edge.

sketch and parts

‘Sketch and parts’

'Sketch and line'

‘Sketch and Line’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reflects the spiritual journey of focusing on our true self, the ethereal essence within us which ultimately outlasts the earthen vessel carrying us throughout this realm of our existence and onto the next. It is certainly a way of seeing the world, both as a sculptor and following a spiritual path, a gift I am eternally grateful for. In a fitting completion to this entry yesterday the sculptor discovered a new dimension to this new work which symbolically connects the two, but I shall leave that to write about once the sculpture is complete and our spiritual retreat which we are about to embark on has ended.

body movement

‘Body Movement’

‘Body Movement I’ outside casting a shadow

Mother and Child II

Colour, Mother and Child, Relationships, Steel

mother and child 7

”Mother and Child”

In the new series, ‘beginnings’ we have another Mother and Child. It is a subject which has been continuously treated in the history of art and  the origins interestingly go back to predynastic Egypt. Perhaps this interest has genetically been placed in my husband’s subconscious.  It then mainly had associations with religious depiction and set formal arrangement and placement of ‘Mother’ and her child. Later there were the conventions of the time period that governed how paintings and sculptures would portray the subject of motherhood but mostly of the ‘happy mother’.

mother and child 4

‘Mother and Child”

Today with almost ultimate freedom to express, we have this minimalistic colourist version. With this, as the viewer we can bring our own interpretations. The cut out circle mimicking the sphere shape balancing on the edge of the leg, as though babe has been within the mother but then taken and placed most precariously in the mother’s trust.

"Mother and Child"

“Mother and Child”

I love the sense of balance in this piece and in this images how the sphere, representing the child is the dominant component. The mother is the structure, the firm base sending this confident solid new ‘object’ off into the world. I also love the way the whole design of ‘the mother’ is two parts, splitting herself in two as she keeps the ‘child’ on her knee on one side and her many other roles on the other.

mother adn child 8

“Mother and Child”

I have discovered I have two earlier entries both called balance about balance within life and motherhood, both an art in their own right. I thought I’d been quite clever at coming up with different titles, I wonder how many other repetitions I have made. However, life is about repetition especially as a Mother. The amount of times we do the same thing over and over again and sometimes I wonder why, but in my more philosophical moments there is beauty in repetition. The repeated patterns within this series of work pays homage to that. I believe we can, by making small seemingly meaningless task, make a difference to ourselves.

mother and child 2

“Mother and Child”

The use of the colour is also important to me in this piece as the strong red legs tell of the strength of womanhood, the quiet suffering and yet at the same time the beauty as though still managing to wear ‘red stilettos’ whilst juggling everything else life has given her, and again the circles and sphere add to this visual analogy.

mother and child 3

“Mother and Child”

The blue head (the mother’s mind) connects to the blue sphere (the child), as the mother’s preoccupation is so often of her child. The use of blue for the Mother’s head could also give reference to post natal depression which is a very different side to Motherhood that is not often depicted in the art of the past. The shadows that this piece creates, in themselves make hauntingly beautiful images of ‘Mother and Child’.

"Mother and child"

“Mother and child”

Inside Out

Exhibitions, History, Philosophy, Public Art, Soul searching, Steel

‘The Nail'

‘The Nail’

‘Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled’ has been our anthem to this month. We have sung it nearly ever day and have been able to spend some time in lovely autumnal sun, exploring. The light in the early evening has given some beautiful wintry skies and the fresh crisp air has really blown away the summer blues. Having said all that we have had a lot of rain too, the ground is muddy and it is nice to feel snug indoors. Autumn has become my favourite season, and it has inspired me to do lots of sorting out like a spring clean.

As a sculptor, work can be outside or inside. As I write that I realise all art can but perhaps in some ways sculpture is more celebrated outdoors. My husband has two pieces outside but the rest all have ‘the will to grow’ to be in a public space. The image here is ‘The Nail’ which celebrates the nail making in the town it is situated in. I have been reading a book set in Neanderthal times and has really made me think about how we have progressed and developed in so many ways but in the process lost our connection with the earth. We have become indoor people (well some of us) but we have the comfort of our homes,when there would have been a time we spent all out time outside.

The Keyhole Family who were standing in the window of the hair salon (see earlier post) have wandered across London to a menswear store Browns (Browns blog). Whilst my husband was there setting up the window display he casually looked at a t-shirt. “Good choice” said the sales assistant. “It’s Japanese”. It had a £2000 was the price tag. If we think about our survival, how we have journeyed through the ages, astronomical doesn’t even convey the expense. Meaning has lost all impact. Like the ‘arrow man’ we have lost our direction. Which way are we heading?

‘The Keyhole Family’ @ Browns Menswear

Some people spend ‘astronomical’ amounts of money on clothes and beauty without thinking about the need to beautify themselves from the inside. Others concentrate on beautifying themselves from the inside and forget that sometimes first impressions count. As with everything balance is so important. Like our bodies, our minds too has a need to be outside or inside, reflecting within ourselves or spending time with others. Sometimes we can’t quite express what we are thinking and feeling inside. I often wonder how well we can know others or how they can know us. We like to think we are individuals but we share so much of the same emotions. For some it’s all a bit ‘upside down’ for others a bit ‘inside out’, we are all trying to find direction.