Lady of the Lake (painting, poetry & now sculpture)

collections, Conceptual

I had the very liberating experience of having 33 centimetres of hair chopped off  this week which makes me feel so incredibly lighter. We plaited the hair into two plaits and did a big chop. So the plaits looked like Mermaid tails or a dead animal, depending on how you want to look at it. No longer am I, Rapunzel weighed down by my hair. I think my vision of long hair was of a lady in water with long hair flowing behind her, Ophelia like? or maybe Bond girl. However, it is not actually a reality. Mine was just a messy mop, difficult to wash and because I have thick hair it just looked heavy, hippie-like or hairy wilder-beast, either way it wasn’t looking good.

 

This sculpture, aptly titled ‘Lady of the Lake” was my planned post for this week but with bank holiday, jobs in the house and a hair cut, time has been limited and so has thinking time. However, as wished for, the hair chop gave me inspiration as I sat looking at myself in the mirror in the hairdresser’s chair. An odd thing to stare at your reflection. I don’t often look at myself in the mirror, not in the habit of applying make-up. Although, ironically my new bob inspired me to purchase some mascara for the first time in probably about 5 years.

So, reflecting on the idea of hair and the mirror and the lady of the lake made me think about the links to the Lady of Shalott  painting by John William Waterhouse.

The painting was inspired by a scene in Tennyson’s poem of the plight of a young woman forbidden to look directly at reality or the outside world and doomed only to view the world through a mirror. The red fiery colour of the hair is the same in both painting and sculpture, the purples in the water and the tapestry on the painting also represented on the sculpture and the black almost wheel like gestures on the sculpture mirror the boat in the painting. The movement of the paint on this sculpture is different from on the other sculptures as though it has literally risen from under the water, so the paint lines are wavy like waves or water movement. It could be a creature from the deep, an organic water form. Again the wavy lines link to the weave of the tapestry of the lady of shallot.

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1809 – 1892

The Lady of Shalott lives in an island castle in a river which flows to Camelot, during the days of King Arthur. The Arthurian links also to the Lady of Lake. The Lady of the Lake is a sorceress and the body of medieval literature and legend about Great Britain. So tradition tells, the Lady of the Lake was the foster-mother of Sir Lancelot and raised him beneath the murky waters of her Lake.

I was almost lady of the lake today as we had the toilet disconnected and despite having turned the stop tap off we still had running water from behind the toilet which then started dripping from the bathroom down through the floor and ceiling below through spot light into the hallway. So buckets in the bathroom and buckets in the hallway as this mornings adventure. Fortunately the carpets are not being fitted until next week so the flooring is all still rough and ready and able to handle a good soaking. We are still in so much chaos a little bit more just added to the drama. My husband had rushed home to help and see if he could find another stop-tap or some solution to the problem. Our work man told him I had been a drama queen. When I called out that he was a little fibber he had to stop his laughing as he waddled down the stairs with toilet in his arms still dripping from his uncontrollable shaking. Knowing full well he had been the one panicking. I don’t think he had predicited my reaction.

Leaking stopped. I won’t be submerged in murky waters this weekend (may not have a toilet but here’s hoping). We will leave the lady of the lake to poems, paintings and now sculpture.

 

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A day in the life

collections, Connections, Galleries

moving tiptoesculptures out

moving

Last week almost at the same time that I was writing about ‘Back biter’, we got an email enquiring about pieces from the Rudimentary collection to exhibit at Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer, part of the William Benington Gallery.  The outdoor space seemed a perfect location for them.

So, it was a last-minute organisation and consequently there was only a seven and a half tonne wagon available to hire. A few hours later we got an email from Saatchi online to say that The Keyhole Man had sold but the client needed it immediately for an event so it would have to be ready for Tuesday. At the same time as sorting out vans and drivers for sculpture delivery. We were printing off the paperwork for transport and  organising a crate to be made. Things always seem to happen last-minute and all at once!

On Sunday morning the alarm went off at 4am and the sculptor got up to go to the studio and with his two side kicks and the rather large truck travelled down to Buckinghamshire with sculptures loaded up.

backbiter in the woodsbb outdoor

This pieces looks even better outdoors with the reflections of the branches bouncing of the almost spider-like sprawl of Back biter.

Meanwhile, I was still in bed but unable to get back to sleep and for some reason my eldest unusually knocked on the door at 7.30am.  During the week I am the first to rise at around 6.30 but 7.30 felt far too early after not quite enough sleep. However, we all had to go out for the youngest football match. So I felt that I dragged myself out of bed.

Saturday had been a super glorious day with full sun and blue skies so it was a stark contrast to be stood in the rain and cold wind watching the football. We headed home for baths and snacks and an early lunch and I had to get on with painting the cupboard housing the attic ladder. Our attic conversion is almost complete but there is still much to be done in the remainder of the house. The good thing about having spare wood and tools lying around the house is that the boys busily got on with making a trident and Warwick castle inspired swords, not without bickering which seems to have become a new stage. The tiredness of the Saturday sun making us all a little weary.

For the sculptor in the van in the south, it was another hot and sweaty day and doing ‘a there and back trip in a day’ with a capped limit of 60 mph meant he didn’t return until 9pm. He was still adamant he would get up for a morning appointment for our business and then crate up the ‘red man’. Needs must. Somehow he did manage to get himself up and out. Perhaps, the southern sun had given him an extra dose of energy.  All worth it for how stunning these look in the grounds though.

And so ‘ Back biter’, ‘Widow’ and ‘Mademoiselle’ are now all in a new home for the next few months, great to see them outside in all their glory. Masterful pieces of hand carved sculpture.

A busy day for us all and how that has a ripple effect on the week, more so with the fact that the house is still upside down.

 

tiptoe outdoors

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

talking ou amm

mam outside

‘Mademoiselle’ strutting her stuff in between the trees

2 shendi outdoor

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.

 

Blossoming from a road trip

Colour, Connections, Making
blossomed 3

‘Blossomed’. 2017. Sam Shendi. Rudimentary Collection

So I missed my newly regular Friday posting last week due to being away on a road trip with the boys. The three of us ventured all the way down to the south coast, taking in Oxford and catching up with old friends, the Roald Dahl museum, the stormy sea, staying with a relative, Stonehenge and Warwick Castle.

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The sun definitely came out for what felt like the first time (and only time this holiday!) on our day at Stonehenge which our eldest relished as he listened to his audio guide for information intently. Like ancient sculptures they stood majestically in open fields reaching up to something beyond and yet rooting down into the earth. I felt my boy blossomed in his eagerness to learn and absorb the history.
This piece, ‘Blossomed’ is also reaching up to something beyond, looking like it has been inspired by UFO’s or that which is extra-terrestrial. But, imagine the process of turning clay into a figure and the stages you would capture in-between the initial lump of clay and the anatomical figure. This is the rudimentary stage. Here below you could see the curve of the back to the right with stomach in red, arms stretched out with clasping cup like hands and legs morphed into pincer like structures .
blossomed 4

A road trip feels like a rudimentary holiday. It is a basic sort of holiday. The positives about going on a road trip is that you see new things, learn and discover not just about the places you visit but about yourself. I really don’t like getting lost! On our first day I was totally reliant on my phone to get us to my friend’s  house in Oxford, usually I just plug-in an address and it tells me where to go. Well, when you are in a new place without a map and for some unknown reason the phone is no longer speaking to you, it gets tricky! Patience gets thin. So on day two I ditched the phone and went old school, purchased an overpriced road map and navigated my way to the Roald Dahl Museum and then everywhere else for the next 4 days. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways after all. Whilst I think I slightly regressed in my behaviour the boys excelled in meeting new people, spending time with an elderly relative and her dog and taking in all that was new. It was great to see them blossoming. I only see that now in hindsight obviously. Slightly sleep deprived and relentless driving with boys bickering in the back with each other was my filter at the time. However, I have returned with a renewed energy of sorts. Starting to return to a regular pattern of sleep and healthy food but a change is definitely as good as a rest!

Whilst we were away the sculptor painted the boys’ room and the living room. So we came back to an upside down house and we got straight into painting, in the attic, recently plastered and all set to become a new space. I am managing the feelings of overwhelm by focusing on the end goal and the fact that this had been on the wish list for a few years. Positive thinking and affirmations and being more structured with my daily planning have definitely helped this all take shape.

Blossomed 2
The shape of this sculpture from this angle (above) looks like a bud, a seed or a pod growing out of something moving and changing and then below the angle shows it blossoming into something reaching and grasping in all directions for every opportunity. Just like the boys, little seedlings growing and changing daily. Blossoming.

(I wish the weather would!)

Blossomed 1

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
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‘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.

madame b2

‘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

 

 

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

The SHE behind SHENDI

Connections, Relationships

‘Family’

I started writing this blog post way back last year but struggled to finish it. So knowing it was International Woman’s day, Mother’s Day and apparently daughter’s week (who knew?) I thought it was a good deadline to get it finished.

At a BMX track a father of my son’s friend sat near by and we started talking about existentialism, materialism and child care. Interestingly his point of view was that in today’s day and age why should all the pressure by on the man to go out and work, and so there he was, at the bike track with his son, obviosuly doing his part of the child care.

My sister is a full time working mum as is my Mum, where as I don’t count myself as one despite going to our showroom and being involved in running our business every afternoon and also writing emails or bits of text here and there at any time of day for the sculpture side of things. I saw an Instagram a post about a woman who had a hesitancy to say ‘Stay-at home mom’ or heaven forbid ‘Housewife’ and yet in each and every situation there are so many variable and conditions that make each individual’s position unique. Many mothers don’t have a choice. Whilst this gentlemen offered his opinion, I sat, listened and nodded in agreement even adding the odd phrase in agreement. Later that evening I wondered why when someone offers an opinion we feel hesitant to say something different. Why do we feel the need to conform?

If I had had a bit more gumption I could have said that whilst times have changed, and we are no longer living in the 50’s where there wasn’t the choice as much- I personally don’t think that we have moved the movement forward. I think woman have shot themselves in the foot. We want it all and can’t have it. I listened to a video clip of a 5 year old little girl saying that boys and girls are the same. We all have the capabilities to do the same things and we should be treated equally. But, controversially, whilst I believe we are equal I don’t believe that men and woman are the same. We are different.

Cactus, Collage Collection

Every situation is different. For me, personally, if I was working part-time or full time with an employer and juggling motherhood I think my brain would explode. My natural disposition is to please and help and give 100 percent. I couldn’t do that to a career, my role as mother and as wife. Something would get lost in the equation. I read about the need for better child care provision so that working mothers can work. Whilst that may be the case and for those that need it and want it there does need to be better provision. However, for  a situation where a couple are both going out to work, for money so they can have a better house, better car, better clothes. The child is getting lost in the equation.

I am aware that I have been in a privileged, luxurious position of being able to be at home with the boys whilst they were small. When I looked back over my journal , I saw the pages where I was working out the cost effectiveness of me leaving work once my second child was born. It didn’t make any financial sense to carry on working and put my children in child care. Looking back though it isn’t the financial side of things that have been of any benefit. I did choose to sacrifice a career but it wasn’t really something I had striven for anyway.  I like the term ‘Homemaker’ when it comes to a title of being at home, the idea of making a home fits better than house wife, maybe?

Someone said to me about how great it was that my husband was achieving things with his art work. Ultimately it is his career and occasionally I see it as that but it has been such a joint ambition since the beginning, that it is my dream too. The 1940’s saying ‘behind every great man is a great woman’ is the observation that no man gets to be “great” in a vacuum, and some woman, somewhere, had a hand in the man’s success. I haven’t got the drive or determination to go out and ‘get’ like he has but I have got the patience, the strength, diligence and the influence to be the first three letters SHE behind the artist, SHENDI.

Mother and Child collection 2016

 

 

Stuck? How to make a decision?

collections, Colour

 

Spilt decision

Split Decisions (Front view)

This piece could in some ways symbolise me, we all can relate to the position of not being able to make a choice when both options seem as bright and positive. How do we make that choice?

split decision from back

Split Decision (back view)

We can get stuck in the middle, in the dark black blue centre. Each pathway seeming viable and having pro’s. To be indecisive though can be paralysing and we live in a world with too much choice and a plethora of options. We have to get better at listening to our heart.

I used to get into this dilemma even at a place to eat when there is choice.  I have found it so hard to make decisions but now, much better at listening to myself. I can see it in my eldest son too who finds it hard making a decision when faced with lots of options. We try to teach him that he needs to make a choice and then assess whether it was a good one or not for him so that next time it might be easier. My youngest son is more like the sculptor, some how has a stronger instinct on what they want whether out be right for them or not. A natural gut feeling. The sculptor has been using this expression a lot recent, in fact we had to it out from a video we have had recorded of his latest collection where he used it several time (video coming soon).

We are human, we can feel one thing in one moment and another in a next. We are human beings, full of contradictions. If we do spend time and connect, listen to what our inner voice is telling us then it can be a little bit easier to make a decision. Deep down we do know what we want. The noise and confusion of life sometimes cloaks us in a veil of insecurity about the direction we need to follow.

This piece is very much like a yoga pose, in fact a lot of the sculptures could almost be yoga positions. I have just come to the end of a 30 day yoga journey with Yoga with Adriene. Would highly recommend it for helping to connect with yourself and who you are. Ultimately this helps to make better choices, decisions more in keeping with our own path.

Split decisiosn from side

 

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.