After several years of carving, crafting, working and whipping up huge sculptural stories, tonight in Johannesburg the opening of my husband solo show will showcase all that work in one space at Graham’s Fine Art Gallery (photos from the gallery)
The sculptor was amazed to see himself larger than life. ( I see this everyday!) but literally plastered all over the building.
A month at sea, a stay in the port and then the drive from Durban to Johannesburg to the gallery, the sculptures arrived not quite without hiccup.
A few damaged and the repair kit missing added to the drama. However, hoping today that has all been fixed. I haven’t heard any updates so praying that everything is going well.
So he spent an intense day unloading and setting up.
Yesterday, he had interviews.
Tonight the show will open. I am so excited all the way back home here in North Yorkshire and anticipating hearing all about it….find out more tomorrow.
Well, I was wrong about having little sleep on Tuesday night. The sculptor slept through the alarm. Although that still meant only 5 hours sleep. A sudden sitting bolt upright, duvet off the bed and expletives woke us both up an hour later than expected. Unfortunately, this had a knock on effect of meeting rush hour on the motorway. Added to that road blocks and diversions around London they arrived at destination- Double Tree Hilton almost 2 hours later than schedule.
Having moved from Cartwright Hall where I have worked, ‘The Bench’ is now sat opposite Canary Wharf where quite by coincidence I did a work experience placement when I was 14 at The Sunday Mirror Magazine. Anyway that isn’t the point. The photographs as I thought, look amazing. The sculpture filling our studio now looks dwarfed by the booming business buildings behind. The sculptures colours are stunning and make it stand out against the city backdrop. Like colourful buildings themselves with the curve simply suggesting a head resting on shoulder. a reminder of how important it is to rest, be with the ones we love and sit and reflect. Most poignantly placed opposite London’s major business district and financial centre.
The story of the journey doesn’t end there but for now, enjoy the pictures ….
As I write the title I suddenly realise many people may be reaching for the end of the working week, the bottle, the next bar of chocolate, the next holiday. We do all reach for that comfort but what are we blocking out.
I have been a bit pre occupied these last couple of weeks not blocked with writer’s block but literally with ‘block’ blocks in researching minecraft parties. I am going all out this year with a Minecraft themed home party for our soon to be 8-year-old. Family birthdays, lots of sculpture events happening and a very busy sculptor means I find it harder to sit and write. Perhaps, just an excuse really however as this next week is half term I am trying to get this written before having the boys and really no time for writing.
I have had a few conversations recently about ambition. What it means and why some of us have it and some of us seem to lack it. In conversations with my husband I reach for the dictionary. I must have had the foresight to know it would be useful to request it from a dear friend when we got married and she wanted gift suggestions. The definition of ambition is ‘an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honour, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment’.
My husband thinks he wasn’t ambitious as a child. He didn’t aim to achieve what he has achieved thus far more a determination to better his situation perhaps. In my mind he is definitely ambitious to fulfil a dream but more crucially has the unbelievable determination to strive for its attainment. Meanwhile, I like being in the presence of that ambition and almost make it become my own in many ways but power, honour, fame, wealth have very little interest for me. I don’t have the drive to reach further or the ability to sustain any determination not for things materialistically. I have a very circular way of thinking. Say like taking a further step my writing into writing a book then I wonder why? for what reason? My mind goes into a spiral of being able to talk myself out of it.
We live in a world where success is often measured in material wealth and possessions. Although we do need those to a certain extent in this western world, aiming to achieve your dreams is something quite different. I guess it is all about purpose. What is our purpose in life. I am too much of a day-dreamer, my personal ambition is reaching into the realms of spiritualism, for something beyond this world…. but I guess it is ok to have these lofty ambitions when your husband is working hard on the ground!! So this Friday thought is. What are we reaching for? Why are we reaching for it?
Yesterday the sculptor took this piece along with several others in a new collection to Newby Hall, Ripon. N.Yorkshire. So if you are looking for some inspiration, a wander in the grounds of an 18th century house, something to do over the summer the exhibition will run from the 1st June ’15 until the end of the season – 27th September ’15.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
This weekend there was an article in The Guardian about those who work ‘behind’ or ‘for’ well known Artists. “The death of one of David Hockney’s staff this week has thrown light on the assistants who work for famous artists”. I know a few people have probed the question about the fact that my husband now has a fabricator and a painter to do the large metal works. I guess there is also me, what shall we call me, the PA. There is also his driver who drives the van and assists him in transporting the sculptures, and the man who works at our shop when my husband is away. We are already a team. There is already a ‘we’ behind the sculptor, the artist.
I can’t speak for anyone else but for me this is not a problem. There would be no creation if it were not for ‘the artist’. Anthony Gormley’s assistant may ‘regret letting go of his own practice’ but I think he is right when he says ‘maybe I am doing it because I am not brave enough to strike out on my own’. There are few people have the vision, the confidence and ultimately the talent to see a project through from start to finish. They personally may not the best welder, painter, engineer, or craftsman but in today’s world where large-scale creations need to be made with specificity, health and safety considerations then a team of people is needed to put together the final result. Without the artist it would never take off. Artists having been using assistants for years, centuries. I don’t understand why there is ‘a moral outrage- the idea that we’re being duped’ it is as Jeffries writes in his article, ‘ridiculous’.
I have purposefully , of course, put this picture in here. It is made from clay, you can see the technique of strips of clay. All done by my husband’s talented hand. It is to emphasis my point about talent. It isn’t just about talent though it is about ‘ideas’. My husband has often been asked; ‘where do you get your ideas?’, ‘what is you inspiration?’. His head is just full of ideas and the more materials and possibilities that open the wider the imagination becomes. From what I see ‘life’ is his inspiration, anything, everything. I may slip in an idea, an alternative direction every now and again but that is not something that needs crediting. The assistants working for these ‘famous’ artists may sometimes feel that they are ‘airbrushed from public consciousness’ but I don’t think it is due to the fact that ‘the lone genius myth’ helps sales and gives the artwork mystique. Assistants are simply assisting the process, a tool. Like Chapman (Chapman brothers) state, “It’s a job”. So what is it like realising someone else’s vision?
Well, yes perhaps there is the internal battle of knowing you are working on ‘someone’ else’s ideas. The inner dialogue of creativity for self or under direction. At the end of the day though, some of us are creators and some of us are ‘the assistants’ but hey, I think its fantastic, it is a privilege, a blessing. As I have written before, ‘On being the Sculptor’s wife’ even if it is ‘Behind every great artist’, you will find…………….
Some times things do just happen all at once or as though things are happening as they are meant to. Serendipity, just sprung to mind. What a word ! it means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”. This is exactly what happened the other week when I was walking, with a friend in a place I usually run and we spotted a sign saying unit to let. After a few conversations and phone calls by the end of this month this will be ‘The Studio’.
Oh yes it snowed here again this week. Spring is surely nearly here? The sun has been out but it is still bitterly cold but so good to be out and about.
It’s very exciting on so many levels. It’s finally a space for the sculptures we have, a place to do the spray painting, a place that experiments can happen. Simply put ‘Space’. I also suddenly had visions of the sunnier days and the boys being able to play around here and a new place to spend time making and creating. Great timing too following last weeks news. We still have to sort out what happens next so that things can go into process for the ‘Evolution’ sculpture . For now we can focus on getting the studio ready. The studio we weren’t specifically searching for, great ‘serendipity’.