Who on earth was Anthony Bourdain?

collections, Philosophy, Soul searching, Uncategorized

Last Friday, towards the end of my month long self-imposed ban on social media (which I have not been very good at adhering to). I saw a dramatically written little square which caught my attention and thinking space. Grief. Weeping and outpouring. Someone had died.

widow11

Widow, 2017 Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi

There were several posts about this apparent icon. Anthony Bourdain. I had never heard of him. Ignorant or not, whichever camp you are in. I had to look him up on the internet. A Chef. Some of the images and comments about him made me think of my husband in certain ways. The life experience and the stories. I hadn’t heard of his books or seen any of his TV shows. I wondered fleetingly, why there was such an outpouring of despair over one man whom people probably hadn’t even met, when thousands are killed, bombed, persecuted everyday.

There is often that collective overwhelming emotion when something tragic happens, shock, confusion, empathy and probably a whole host of other sentiments. A sudden awareness that life is fragile and nothing is permanent. If we can focus on being mindful in the moment and grateful, the more we can appreciate those precious moments and find the true meaning of being happy.

That very same Friday afternoon I found out my son’s year six teacher was leaving the school. I was shocked and saddened that my youngest son wouldn’t get the golden nuggets of teaching my eldest has received. Preparing him for secondary school with confidence, self belief and optimism. Whilst I know and I am sure there are lots of good teachers, some people are just irreplaceable. I also felt deeply dissapointed that my youngest sport-loving boy wouldn’t have this amazingly sporty teacher. Despite that, it’s a couple of years before my son would have been in her class and who knows what will happen between now and then. We could even move- who knows what can happen in that space of time. I related my strong and almost violent emotion about this news to what I had been reading that morning. I really had to try and sit with my feelings and find out why I was so emotional. It was almost  parallel, so who was I to judge someone else’s overt emotion. I was feeling the same and it wasn’t even death.

This piece entitled, ‘Widow’ captures grief. It suggests the female form and there is a strong femininity about the piece. For me it is my favourite of the Rudimentary collection. When I see this piece I am reminded of a friend, not only because she is a widow but because of a memory I have from when we were young. We were canoeing on the canal and a swan, protecting her nest swam up to my friend and started pecking at her. No matter how frantic and aggressive swans can be there is an elegance, tranquility and beauty about the swan. The arch of the neck hangs down in a graceful sorrow. In mythology the swan was sacred to Venus, goddess of love. Death is all the more tragic because of love. When we love something it is hard to let it go.

Departure is very different from death but perhaps a grief still the same. Yet change is enevitable and very much a part of life. In the end everything comes to an end.

Who was Anthony Bourdain? I didn’t know him but I think when someone dies, suddenly, tragically, at a point in time where we had pressumed no expectation of that passing away, it is wake up call to and/or for ourselves. A realisation and a reminder that we don’t know when we will take our last breath. It is a journey, actually the only certain one, one which we are most often ill prepared for.

When striving for success in a career in this earthly domain it can come at a cost. It seems it did for Bourdain. It often does for artists and I know it is often a struggle for my husband who sacrifices a lot for time in the studio. A creative life doesn’t exist in a straight line and there is a risk of the unknown. Jamie Aaron states in his 11 things highly creative people sacrifice for their art, “They sacrifice the life people told them they should have for a life they love, a life that is inspiring and thrilling. Because that’s the whole point. To create is a privilege, one that artists know not to take for granted. To deny a conventional life is a risk, but not as great a risk as to deny their heart.”

Serendipitously we watched Disney’s ‘Coco’ last night after a month of not watching television (we were a bit more successful at that abstention). The story was about the inhabitants of the land of dead, the unseen world depicted gloriously in this animation, being able to pass back over into the land of living for one day, if they have been remembered by tributes. The main character has to question ‘what form of legacy matters the most and whether our personal ambitions can successfully coexist alongside our commitment to loved ones’. The main song gives a message of how important it is to remember those that have passed away.

“Remember me, though I have to say goodbye
Remember me, don’t let it make you cry
For even if I’m far away, I hold you in my heart
I sing a secret song to you each night we are apart
Remember me, though I have to travel far
Remember me, each time you hear a sad guitar
Know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
Until you’re in my arms again, remember me

Remember me, for I will soon be gone
Remember me, and let the love we have live on
And know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
So, until you’re in my arms again, remember me”

Life is a spiritual experience by the very nature of being conscious, by being aware. The sculptor’s work often explores the idea that the body is simply a vessel. We are essentially souls experiencing the world through the body. But the soul is unseen. So perhaps death is simply the end of the body in this world. The soul returns.

“For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.” Kahlil Gibran

 

Collateral Beauty

Mother and Child, Relationships, Soul searching
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“Memories of my lost child” 2016. Sam Shendi

I have been struggling to write about this piece mainly because I have no experience of losing a child; for which I am thankful for. Nevertheless, it is my greatest fear and in some kind of cathartic practise when I embarked on writing a piece of fiction two years ago (which amounted in a huge number of words now sat festering in my computer’s memory) I made my central theme the idea of losing a child. With the idea of finding some sort of peace and resolve afterwards. However, I still feel a fraud and so perhaps that is why I can’t finish it.

Recently we watched a film, which reminded me that there is no original thought and my idea had almost already been explored-so good at making excuses. The film didn’t get good reviews but I loved it.  The idea of time, death and love personified. That our children come through us (I think that idea was probably taken from Gibran : see below) and that when someone dies, “be sure to notice the collateral beauty.”

On Children –Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Something traumatic in loosing someone through death, especially when they are young may take a lifetime to understand if ever. The concept of the film though is that in that dark and unhappy place there was still love. The beauty is that love continues even after and through death. Death reminds us that we need to be present in every moment because we have no control over our last.

I started to think of other meanings for this piece of work, not just “The memory of my lost child” to death but loosing a child just for a moment. I have experienced that and it is scary enough. It is hard to stop all the fears and worries that flood the mind. It led me to thinking about when parents feel they have lost their child to something else or someone else or somewhere else and how in the mind of the parent they think they have ‘lost’ their child. The complexity of the parent-child relationship is that they are so dependant on you and at each stage you are aware of them “moving away” becoming more independent. As a parent the need may seem to disappear but  the role changes and continually shifts.

The inspiration for this piece for my husband was a strong awareness of the impact the death of his cousin had on his Uncle. The story is tragic and traumatic causing a ripple within the family. This piece is a dedication of that event in my husband’s life but one that resonates with so many for their own individual reason.

However ‘whole’ you might appear the loss means there is always part of you missing. You are missing someone and that has an effect on your whole being.

lost child shafow

Questions

Colour, Connections, Egyptian, Galleries, Soul searching
'The Question'

‘The Question’

Q2

Q5

Q6

Q4

Q8

Q7

'Exclamation'

‘Exclamation’

I feel there is so much I could write with this post. We are constantly asking questions. This piece is the human question but from one angle is an exclamation, which I love, I always over use exclamation marks!!!!

Already this morning I have the question in my mind of whether the boys are ok at school and preschool as I felt I literally dropped them there in mid air rushing off to the next drop off and to the shop. I was asked the question at pre school of how to spell the name of the Egyptian bread I went in to make . So I have text my sister-in-law to ask for the spelling. I wondered if the milk is off, when I got to the shop this morning as with no fridge the milk has been left on the side. The question of whether my husband will get the train to London and have his meeting ok.

My eldest is at that questionable age,  ‘Do all pengiuns look the same?’ ‘Do animals look the same in the next world?’ and so many more just in the car on the way to school. Or the fact that our little boys keeps asking my husband “Can I tell you a question, Baba?! He is copying his older brother who is constantly saying, ‘Can I tell you a joke’ or ‘asking a question’, in a cute little voice he morphs the two. My deeply philosohical husband this morning was observing that our youngest is no longer a baby and and we are not going to be around when he is old. That means we are dying, he said, not literally but yes depressing as it is on this misty mid week morning we are all a little closer to death. That is the ultimate question.

What are you questioning today?

‘Evolution’ is evolving

Making, Philosophy, Soul searching, Steel

This morning the wet damp clouds hung heavy over the hills here in Yorkshire, creating an almost hazy fog interrupted with lush green trees popping through the grey like thought bubbles. Made me think of my husband’s mind! The sun broke out this afternoon and turned into a lovely summer solstice, and the sundown will be around 9.30ish here. It’s amazing how the longer days really shift the rhythm internally and externally.

I am very much ‘The Sculptor’s wife’ at the moment, as the sculptures for the solo exhibition and the large-scale sculpture which will go outside the Royal British Society of Sculptors are all in various stages of progress, and taking up my Husband’s time. The lighter evenings giving an extra momentous for working in the studio.

‘The base complete with holes’

The ‘Evolution’ piece has now been welded and has been moved to the studio. Where they congregated like a family;

evolution waiting in the studio

‘Evolution’ waiting in the studio

The surface is polished and smoothed before the painting, at least he is wearing gloves this time!

preparing fro spray

preparing the surface for spraying

The first to be sprayed was the fist stage in the series of ‘transmission’ the infant. Tonight, my husband has got back from painting the last in the series death’. When he came in he immediately starting telling me that the results had been announced for The Cork Street Gallery summer exhibition, shaking his head and looking all disappointed.I tried to quickly remember what this was all about and he told me the pieces and then said “when I scrolled down to ‘S’ these were the three pieces they had chosen! (I think we entered 6) So it was exciting to find out we have been shortlisted, but now some more form filling and delivery of works and the process starts again.

We often want to see the end product of something, get to our destination, get the result, but most often it is the journey, the process, the ‘evolution’ and evolving of ourselves through the process that is the most important thing.

First to be sprayed – infant

The things we lost in the fire

Galleries

It’s that time of year, it is cold, it is icy. We retreat inwards. Many people I have spoken to of late seem to be struggling with the tests that life brings. If we compare the seasons to the life cycle then this is the season of death. The trees have now finally lost their leaves. There has been a sparkly ice coating over everything and snow in some places. We light candles, people stay warm by the fire. Fire. The element of comfort and destruction. Last night the fire raged havoc over Damside Mill.

“Damside Mill is a furniture workshop,studio and gallery in Haworth. The last working part of the old Lees Mill, it has been brought back to life by Anthony and the Damside team as a place where high quality designer furniture is created, while upholstery and furnishing courses are run in the studio, with an evolving programme of contemporary art and design in the gallery. It is a growing marketing platform for associated artists to promote and sell their work, and just a great place to visit in Haworth.”

Anthony Hartley  and his partner Nel and the rest of the team had spent vast quantities of time, effort and finances developing the Mill, finally reaching an opening earlier in the year which I blogged about. This morning it stood charred with the internal damage the heat from the fire. In stark contrast to the cool and icy hills of Haworth behind it.

Most importantly no one was inside, so no one was hurt and ultimately that is the most important thing. However, all that effort, hard work has been turned to ash. Equipment has been damaged and a large skip has already been filled with the debris. A deathly and destructive force has swept through and taken everything.

It isn’t the first time we have lost work. We moved house and successfully moved a huge amount of clay sculptures. Then one evening we heard an almighty crash and the table which we had placed them all on broke and not one of them was left in tact. Today, my husband was unable to see the full extent of the damage as it was dark and they were all tinged shades of grey. They are not totally lost.

The ice will melt, the leaves will  grow back and spring follows and brings with it new hope, new creativity, new life. There is always someone else suffering, working through hardship, grieving a loss. Our perspective, attitude and outlook all greatly determine how we deal with the challenges life throws at us. I can easily go down the pessimistic, negative view-point. It is always in situations like this when I am not directly effected that I learn that others have such courage and strength. My Husband is always uncharacteristically calm and measured in these moments, he is very accepting of his fate, when situations are beyond his control. Nothing is lost. Courage and strength can overcome. Buildings, material objects, money can all be re-done, re-made, re-worked. Nobody was lost in the fire.

‘ My husband and sculptures in Damside Mill'

‘ My husband and sculptures in Damside Mill’