This has been months in the making and just the first half of a short film about how my husband views imagination. The second half will go into more depth about how his imagination as an artist/sculptor works. Take a look and let us know what you think!
Each afternoon this half term week, I have been in the shop which on these bizarrely warm February days has felt a little frustrating. This time last year we were deep in snow and forecasts do say snow is still on the way. As much as the sunshine has been lovely it is a concern that the seasons seem upside down. We are seeing the affects of climate change first hand. Temperatures slowly rising is not a good sign.
The eldest had his first gig last Friday evening which was amazing to watch. It was surreal to see him very relaxed and easily able to perform in front of a small crowd. He currently practises on an electric guitar at home and when he rehearsed at school one of their bass guitars. So, he desperately wanted to visit the guitar shop this week and look at a bass guitar. It was an interesting lesson for him to look and not purchase. He didn’t want to leave the shop. Teaching him patience.
The youngest had a flurry of football related activities to start the week off school which I had thought would help the arrangements for child care but actually just added in the complication of getting him to and from each day. Ambitious and anxious to do well in anything physical, he overcame his first day nerves and enjoyed three days of soccer in the sun.
I feel like the last remaining grains of our Egyptian holiday have finally disappeared and I am fully back into the routines and rhythms of daily life. Half term was needed simply to break the rhythm. However, it isn’t a break. Logistically more complicated almost but we have had sunshine! When it is good weather I have a compulsive urge to be out in it. I think, because there is never any consistency to the weather in this country.
I realise I live with an artist, a musician and a sportsman in my tribe, all with the temperaments to match. Which I joke, is why I did a Psychology degree, to be able to manage all these personalities. Having said that, I maybe the most temperamental one, my own mood was drastically affected by the moon last week which I have never felt such a connection to before. I do think the elements, the seasons, the weather affect us. What do you think?
I am attempting to make little changes at home, using refills for washing liquid, washing powered, hand soap. Trying to buy things without plastic but I wonder sometimes how this helps. There is so much more I could do but it is hard to be consistent and to keep on top of. Do you refuse, reuse, renew, recycle? We were clearing out the shed and tidying up the back yard last weekend and my fantastic, not so long ago purchased, glass water bottle, was left by me in a place which was perhaps precarious. Despite it’s rather sculptural silicone wrap, landing on the concrete slab yard meant it smashed into several pieces. I was rather upset about it for numerous reasons. Of course all my boys seem to think that if it had been plastic it would have been better!
We are awaiting several projects in the pipeline and so it is a matter of waiting to see what will happen. So the sculptor is slightly in limbo waiting and with one of his metal pieces needing lots of sanding time he has set to work on a collection called, ‘Broken Clouds’. Going to collect the eldest from the studio who has been helping the sculptor in the afternoon has meant I have seen the progress of this new creation. It has been more of an experimental one but also a return to resin again which the sculptor had decided to stop. You can almost smell the toxicity in the air on approaching the studio. I now understand why the sculptor is concerned about his health. I think the studio is probably the antithesis of my approach to our home.
I like this collective title ‘Broken Clouds’ as it links to our current concern with climate change but perhaps also a connection to ourselves. Is the weather reflecting society. Is everything broken? I don’t often think too far in the future but when I consider what the world might be like when my boys are adults and for future generations, I do hope we can start to fix things. I believe it all starts with us. We have to be the one making the change.
“The greatest threat to our planet
is the belief that someone else will save it”, Robert Swan.
“Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? …people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
— Pablo Picasso
Sometimes we try too hard to understand what art is and what the artist is trying to say. Any art form be it; music, singing, poetry, writing, painting, drawing and sculpture, dance and even sport (if you see can go as far as to see that as an art form) is an expression from the artist. The creator. It’s their voice.
How, as someone trying to appreciate another’s voice, do we try to understand what someone else is trying to say? Like with any conversation, it is best to let go of any judgements, any preconceived ideas or opposition. Easier said than done when in a discussion or a debate. However, in the case of art. The art form isn’t directly speaking back to you in any kind of altercation, so the ability to let go should be easier.
So, with the case of sculpture if you want to understand it, you can consider these following things:
How does it make you feel?
And any emotion can be relevant. See what comes up. Accept. Don’t try to force meaning or words. Relax and think about the sensations.
Does it evoke memories? Give you ideas, inspire you, does it open your imagination? Relax.
Let your eyes wander around it. This is why seeing sculpture, live in its three-dimensional form is important and can help understanding. We can only appreciate or connect so much from an image.
Look at the colours or lack of colour, how do the colours impact or affect you?
Consider the materials and whether that makes you feel a certain way?
I saw recently on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park instagram page the quote, “Sculptures often explore the edges of objects and spaces, overlapping, puncturing or touching”. What about the shape, the form, the surface. Is it smooth, soft, sharp, curvy, does it cast shadows?
How do you interact with the piece when you walk around it?
Take your time.
Does it speak to you? What does that question mean to you?
Art is an experience.
It is about analysing your emotional response to it and the potential for the work to open your imagination and idea up into potential a higher plane.
We might look at a Van Gough, Monet or a Rembrandt, a Da Vinci or a Michelangelo and think that we can understand the painting and sculpture because it visually makes sense to us. But go beyond what you see. How does it make you feel?
When I first saw the Mona Lisa, I was shocked by the size. When I wandered around Rothko’s large abstract paintings I was in awe. I’ve seen work that is brilliant, baffling and beguiling.
Often we don’t listen to a piece of music, whatever genre and try to understand it. Art appreciation seems a little harder, a little more perplexing. Why?
In both there is composition, creating a scene, a mood, a form of expression.
My husband would say that it isn’t about ‘understanding’. He thinks that unfortunately what is happening now is a generation of people who are driven by materialism and money and are spending too much time thinking about what to create and it that so much of art has become an object or a product. True artists should be simply driven by the desire to express their imagination. He says for example, “if you look at a Dali painting, what he has done is capture his imagination and introduces it to us. We have the opportunity to see inside Dali’s head”.
I went to see Othello with a very good friend of mine. The performance was modern, minimal and had a very shocking scene in the middle of it, which we were not sure needed to be there. Perhaps, we were seeing something that was inside the director’s head…eek! However, what was very noticeable to us both was that because we had studied it for one of our A-level texts we could understand it ( to a certain degree). Where as, we mused that had we not, much of it would have gone over our heads. Watching this Shakespeare performance 20 years after first reading it, seeing it, analysing and taking it apart made me realise that it is important to learn about an art form. If you do want to understand it to a higher level then it is about deconstructing it and putting it back together.
Living with an artist, a sculptor has enabled me perhaps to deconstruct my own way of thinking and put it back together. I wonder if that is essentially what marriage is asking you to do, when you live in a shared space and choose to share your life with someone different from yourself. Communication is so important.
“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.
We listen to reply.”
The same in art, we look to form an opinion, we don’t look to observe and learn. In Othello, we are shown how character and emotion plays a vital role in understanding ourselves and others and how the dangers of not harnessing those emotions can them can have. We can either analyse and learn from it or put up a barrier in opening up our channels of understanding. So perhaps Picasso was right, we can’t explain art. We have to be open.
“Observe, accept, release, transform” Yung Pueblo.
How do you see this sculpture? What do you see?
An abstract form? An insect, some kind of creature? An Alien? A landscape? Or something from your own imagination?
Whatever you see, you see something, you think about something, you remember something?
Frank Stella famously quoted that, “Sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood some where”. This quote I think could sum up my husband’s work. They are like three dimensional canvases. This piece particularly feels that way.
The other evening at the kitchen table, we had finished our supper and were chatting over a hot cup of tea. The last few days had been hot but the cool evening breeze had lowered and the hot tea felt magic.
It’s those little moments, subtle but memorable. When I asked my husband about this piece and he spoke and I wished I had recorded it.
For him, he has the idea, a shape, a concept in his mind. It is completely carved from every angle. He turns it around in his minds eye. Once complete he sets to work. The form then inspires the colour and like a painted canvas he then wraps it around the sculpture like gift wrapping a present , tight to the edges of the shape.
“Mademoiselle” 2017. Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi
This piece is a female form, a young woman experimenting with different hues, finding her true colours. She struts her stuff, thin not yet shaped by life or motherhood. It reminds me of A few days I spent in Paris in my early twenties by myself with my camera, taking back and white photos, not really appreciating the time, the freedom and the vitality I had.
For most of us our minds work in thoughts, ideas, imagination, maybe each one of us thinks different. Perhaps we all are the same. But to go that next step and create something not seen before is unique. That’s why (following on from my last post about SATS and Education) what we learn in school or the test scores don’t relate to our true potential.
Artists don’t need to create a realistic version of something these days. We have cameras and videos for record. To create something inspiring, memorable, colourful yet captures movement, form, beauty is the skill of a true sculptor.
On Saturday in the early hours of the morning, the sculptor set off to take a number of sculptures down to St.Botolph’s building in Aldgate, London. It’s a long journey there and back in one day and it takes it out of him each time. The sculptures will be on display for 6 months and dominating the reception area of this modern building.
Some people use only their heads to plough on through, working hard, determined to make a difference. They use their heads for work. It’s quite appropriate then that this sits inside the reception for a Law firm.
It is easy to forget once they are inside an industrial building that these sculptures are all hand carved by my husband, it’s so ‘perfect’ looking, with today’s modern industry where things are moulded and formed by machines. My husband’s philosophy is that art should be beautiful, he has such skill with his hands and traditional sculpture methods which makes me believe he is one of the classic sculptors in our time and we are working to get him known for that. Behind each piece is a philosophy, a story.
The sculptures themsleves go on such a journey from creation, being in the studio, photo shoots and they look different being placed in the ‘outside world’ rather than being in the studio. These have had such a fantastic response on social media which affirms how these works should be out in the public arena wherever possible.
We are all on that journey. From the start, to where we will end up and how we will tunnel our way along. Laid back with no ambition? Meandering along life’s twists turns? Or like a hammer in a relentless and repetitive rhythm to achieve the end result. It is a journey in the making from creation to situation.
To go and view these pieces you can get in touch with info@ARTful.org.uk.
I have caught some beautiful days this summer. Wandering. Walking. Captivated by the clouds and flowers this year. Always looking up for some loftier inspiration. I dart around like the swallows in my pursuit for easier homemaking, exercise, minimising and reducing waste, writing and looking after our business and the boys. Reminded recently about the need to be grateful for the place where we are at, both mentally and physically. I am fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world. Sometimes grounding ourself in the importance of seeing something through, brings us back to earth.
My husband has been at the studio rediscovering an old material. I always felt that having a studio space would change his practice and it is doing. In various ways this piece is impressive and has caused an interesting reaction on his social media networks. It has provoked between us conversations about the importance of what sculpture is made from, the impermanence of a material, the weight of a piece. When I see some of the things that are taken in galleries as ‘sculpture ’I do wonder why for this piece it can’t be the end result. However, for this to go outdoors then it would probably need to be cast into something more durable. What is it made from? What is the material? What do you think?
The other evening when my husband showed the boys and I images of the piece, our eldest boy immediately saw the knees, said it was a woman sitting, talking to a bird. So the discussion around our kitchen table brought about the title for the piece.
I am in constant awe at the talent my husband has, it doesn’t diminish with time. He just gets better. The work is deeper and the ideas expand. However, this is an old style and theme of his but a different scale and medium and the addition to the colour makes it for me simply divine. The frustration is that this type of work evokes this response more than the other more costly more conceptual pieces. It is less designer and more ‘created’. For me it’s the talent of his sculpting, seeing the result of his hand on the work. The creator.
I found the solution to my strange foreboding feeling and an answer to my ‘waspishness’ and pulled in a million directions. This piece kind of encapsulates it for me. We can often feel up and down, it is a natural rhythm to our human struggle. We search for something to fill the void. We turn to things to fill a need but they don’t satisfy. We turn outwardly to the world. We need that conversation with a bird. We must commune with nature. We must turn within and focus our hearts on remembrance. Ultimately there is only one thing that can give us a natural high. The divine. We must turn to our creator.