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

From Cocoon to Chrysalis. The Metamorphosis Collection

collections, Colour, Connections, Soul searching

Unintentionally I took a break from blogging in August. It strikes me that summer is a time for growth. For, the children physically, perhaps, for adults mentally. For me this summer I felt a strong need to work on self-development. I had heard that changes can happen when you turn the glorious age of 40, that shifts occur as though you are entering a new phase. I have a belief that things will fall into place for me within this decade. I didn’t realise it would be so marked.

I’ve also made a connection that my husband’s sculptural journey somehow mirrors my own life journey. So, when the boys were younger there was a heavy focus on ‘Mother and Child pieces‘, The ‘Giant collection’ when perhaps I was working through some post-natal shifts. The ‘Calligraphy collection’ as I started to outline my blog and with this latest collection during the summer months lots of links.

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly is a fascinating one and interestingly the boys love finding caterpillars and I love photographing butterflies. I think we all like seeing the positive result of change. This summer I have had time to reflect and do some work on my self, some self-realisation and feel, almost as if I am transitioning from a cocoon to the chrysalis. Meanwhile, the sculptor has been carving away at the ‘Metamorphosis collection’.

Matilda

‘Matilda’. The ‘Metapmorphis Collection’ by Sam Shendi

“Self-realisation is a strange term. You don’t actually realise your self.

If anything, you go away. The caterpillar enters a cocoon of meditation: A butterfly emerges, metamorphosis.” Frederick Lindemann

The Story begins with a very hungry caterpillar. The boys loved this book when they were little. I am totally that very hungry caterpillar and this is one of the aspects I am trying to evolve from! The next stage is spinning itself into a cocoon and within the protective casing radical transforms occurs. The Chrysalis is not a resting stage, a lot is happening. I think I am in that stage still and not yet quite the butterfly. It isn’t just about an external transformation, although I am working on that too. Trying to focus on active and healthy choices. It is the changes from within, re-working old habits, extending and expanding new thoughts and ideas. Shedding the layers physically and peeling away at the onion of our psychology.

“And so artistic creation is the metamorphosis of the external physical aspects of a thing into a self-sustaining spiritual reality.” Hans Hofmann

Victoria

“Victoria” from the ‘Metamorphosis Collection’. Sam Shendi 2019

I had some very liberating moments this summer and conversely some real trigger moments where I had some strong negative physical reactions to things which were happening. It is so important to navigate those trigger moments to understand what is happening in the sub-conscious and learning from them. To develop personal growth we need to acknowledge what we haven’t fully been willing to step into and where we are able to overcome those feelings. Like the caterpillar it is important to sacrifice who you are right now in order to see who you can become.

“I’d rather be this walking metamorphosis

than having that old formed opinion about everything.”  Raul Seixas

Anne

‘Anne’ part of the ‘Metamorphosis collection’. Sam Shendi 2019.

The butterfly isn’t necessarily the end result, just the start of the journey. One of discovery. Creativity. Exploration. Shapes of cocoons vary, yet there is something universally simplistic and beautiful about them. All the more intricate work happening within. As humans we have a tendency to focus on our exterior, our outer shell and leave our inner being under nourished. The work that goes on within us is transformative and the only real change we can make begins with ourselves.

I’ll write more about the sculptural concepts next time!

“It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: 

all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” Henry Miller

 

Making your mark

collections, Colour, Connections, Egyptian, Exhibitions, Making
The Braille Collection by Sam Shendi. Collectively looking like an alphabet system

To quote Mark Twain, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” has resonated with me for a number of years, firstly because my husband so clearly knows his own purpose and what he finds joy in doing but secondly because I have been very much the opposite of that. Like my shellfish star sign, I scuttle one way then retreat into my shell and then shuffle along in another direction. I have had so many interests over the years that I describe myself as ‘jack of all trades master of none’.

However, on Friday 12th July this year, my mother and I gracefully stumbled upon an exhibition at the British Library. In London, for a weekend away (my first without the boys in over 7 years I might add again) we realised neither of us had been to this tower of treasures before.

‘Writing: Making your Mark’ runs only for a few more weeks and it was a fortuitous turn that led us there. Delightfully, without children I was able to read every display case and successfully answered one of the little quizzes you could test yourself with about where types of writing originated from.

Not only have I struggled with a lack of direction in what I like to do I also need to overcome perfectionism. It is a hinderance. The desire to do things right overtakes the joy of an act. Yet somehow I have managed to keep this blog running for nine years despite my pitfalls in grammar and sentence construction.

It dawned on me in the dark depths of the British library that I have always been writing. Diaries, Journals, poetry, school work, blogging. I have dabbled in Russian, French, Japanese and now Arabic. Although, I am definitely not a linguist the idea of words, calligraphy and the art of writing is definitely something that I have a passion about. I wondered then from the belly of the building of books whether I had finally had that day. The second day that Twain deems an important one. I am declaring it almost so, for accountability perhaps. Fear that incase in a couple of months the idea of being a sports psychologist rears it’s competitive head or the family teacher trait takes a triumphant turn.

Ebony I

Writing features in the sculptors work in his Calligraphy collection and in one of his latest collection ‘Braille Branches’. This collection is one to raise awareness of environmental issues whilst simultaneously connecting with the visually impaired. The sculptures have different textures, surfaces and forms that lend themselves to touch and feel. The flat surface has raised patterns which allow the works to have a written message. When I was in the writing exhibition the section on Braille described it as tactile writing, patterns of dots or cells which can be used to represent letters, numbers and punctuation.

Ebony II
Ebony III

Something about these pieces looks ancient and futuristic combined, like modern tablets on ancient structures or alien-like forms with a primordial message. “Throughout history, we have engaged with writing in countless ways, using a variety of tools and materials. Writing and technology, have often developed hand in hand, inspiring and influencing one another. For thousands of years people have used writing to make their mark in a multitude of ways.” (Exhibition guide)

Today we use screens, express with emoji’s, communicate by text and yet I was thrilled to receive a beautiful fountain pen for my birthday halted in my endeavours to begin as I need ink! What will the future hold for the way we write, create, express and make our mark on the world. Thanks to Mark Twain I am eager to find out why and what happens next….

The anvil of everyday living

collections, Colour

 

'A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.' Charles R. Swindoll

‘Anvil’ Sam Shendi 2017.                              

‘A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.’ Charles R. Swindoll

Having had half term inside  I was looking forward to the approach of spring. Lighter evenings and sunnier days. We had a couple of sunny but chilly days but it was a tease. Now, we have been snowed in for three days. I have never seen it like this before and the wind has sculpted the snow into its own interesting patterns on the pavements and roof tops. It’s the deepest ever. The wind is speaking in howls and moans around our yard. The sculptor managed to walk to the studio and the boys and I braved the bitter blowing and took out the sledge. Warmed up with dairy free hot chocolate, the boys have been busy sculpting with filmo. The fruit bowl is depleated and the kitchen tap no longer working, the pipes are frozen. We have been creating meals from the ingredients we have left in the house. Using what we have.

When using tools the sculptor often uses what we have. Cheese graters have often gone missing from our kitchen. He has made his own hot wire from guitar strings. The anvil was a tool the sculptor frequently used at University.

For me I see this piece as a woman even though interestingly we had some feedback about how this body of work is very masculine and therefore not inclusive of the ‘Only Human’ title of the collection. This came about because this collection was made directly following the ‘Mother and Child’ collection which exhausted the female form. Also this collection was inspired from experience from the sculptor so had a male perspective. However, none of the pieces are overly masculine though more androgynous I think. So here she sits, submissive but strong. Tired but not weakened.

Anvils are ancient tools, at one time everyday tools but they have acquired symbolic meaning beyond their use as utilitarian objects. The Anvil creates new life, creates beginning and sends a message to spirit to be ready to start creation; a symbol of virtue, courage and strength. She is all female to me.

 

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.

 

 

We are only human after all

collections, Colour, Relationships

Most of the work my husband sculpts forms part of a collection, a group of sculptures under the same title. The latest finished collection is, “Only Human”, born from ideas taken from human phrases. Phrases we use in conversation that has then shaped the form of these vessels. Human beings are fallible, we are not perfect and we can only strive for improving ourselves.  Always  makes me think of the song, “Human” by Rag’n’bone, as the boys did a Viking song based on the rhythm and we had the song going around our head constantly. ” We are only human after all, don’t put your blame on me.” Human beings are no longer a subject of focus on a daily basis and in many ways have become devalued. Alex Rodgers wrote a book with the same name about the current issues and problems young people face in today’s society.

Each sculpture is created as a human figure whilst simultaneously acting like a canvas which if stretched out would give you an abstract colourful painting, showing that emotion has a colourful impact on human energy and action. These pieces are a frozen body movement which has been shaped by the emotion to allow you to understand that each one of them is only a presentation of who you are. The colour e describes the emotion hidden within the piece and is a completion of the actual concept. Our emotions are so powerful, if we look back at the past mankind uses this emotion to direct not just thousands but millions.

All these pieces have been hand carved using various materials and then painted. Many people can have a create talent, they can draw, paint, take a photography or work with clay or wood. It is something again to bring something out from an imagination of an idea or concept and one in which you are telling a story. In an attempt to be more organised the next series of blog posts I will go through each one in turn, but for now you can think of your own  titles for the pieces.

Only Human. Sam Shendi. 2017.


Pieces of Us

Connections, Making, Relationships

In my last blog entry a sneaky image got in which I hadn’t intended to post for several reasons. However, fate intervened! it got in and then in response to this image which I will now have to put in for it all to make sense. 

three ladies

‘Body parts’

I got asked this series of questions for a project for a nice little blog called; The Show and Tell project. Probably because this looks like a collection of parts. Anyway here are the Q & A’s

1.) Do you have any thoughts/ feelings about seeing your husband’s work go from a collection of parts to a cohesive whole? What is the experience like ?

I think I am in the privileged position of being, living and seeing, (what I believe)  will someday be (and is to me already, before universal recognition) a great artist at work. Gosh did that sentence make sense, probably not!

This is a good question as it makes me reflect a little bit more. My husband makes the process look easy as though it is a magic of sorts. It is so natural and easy for him I sometimes think he doesn’t realise that the way he sees and thinks isn’t like everyone else and that his natural talent is a real natural gift. The process is having the idea, drawing the idea in the most part and then sometimes making the idea come to life in three dimensions. Off the page. Now we have recently taken on the studio the process is changing a little. He now has a physical space to play rather than his mind and the page. I think in the long-term this will have an important impact on his work. The introduction of mannequins is a good example. To begin with he was sketching ideas on the paper. He then ordered a large quantity of the mannequins and started playing around with them which was also a process and then the actual physicality of where they could split and the positions of hands and legs seems to be effecting the design. So it is starting to be a little more organic. I like this as sometimes he is very prescriptive about what the end result will be. He has an idea in his head and it has to be like that. It isn’t aleatoric at all. So up until now I haven’t felt like there was a collection of parts as such. We will perhaps see more collection of parts.

2.) Do you make artistic contributions to his work? how so?

He sometimes asks me for my opinion. I give it and it is either taken onboard completely or totally dismissed completely. He is very black and white like that. I don’t often voluntarily give contributions, I don’t think. He may also have a number of sketches and ask me which ones he thinks he should develop. He recently asked me about colour choices but sometimes I think he asks me in an interesting exercise to do the complete opposite or the unexpected of what someone may ordinarily imagine.

3.) In your experience, do you feel like many of his ideas remain incomplete? And if so, how to you respond?

My instinct is to say that none of his ideas remain incomplete. He is very ‘start to finish’. I also think that because he works in such a size and material now, that if he starts making, it is with the intention of finishing it. I think if he was spending money on making things that weren’t getting finished I would probably get frustrated but I don’t see that happening.

4.) Why do you think that artists find it difficult to maintain inspiration ?

Because they are trying to find inspiration or ideas. It may sound arrogant but I don’t think truly great artists do find it difficult to maintain inspiration. In my husband’s case it is not about maintaining inspiration it is about maintaining the belief that one day he will get recognition for his work. He has said to me before, if he had an endless fund he could fill sculpture parks over and over, and it is no exaggeration we have sketchbooks full of ideas that could be created if we had the money!