Creative Education

family portrait
Family Portrait (2016)

I thought that following my perhaps, sorrowful sounding poem, in my last post; I should qualify that I don’t in anyway regret the decision to stop rowing. I had a fleeting thought where I wondered why I didn’t follow through with doing the PGCE course at Cambridge, from where I could have followed through with rowing after my degree more easily than rowing out of London but I wouldn’t be where I am now if that had happened. Fate. My parents are both teachers and coincidently both ‘the sculptor’s’ parents were. I feel there is something about education which is in our blood, but both myself and my two siblings have probably intentionally avoided it. Which is why I probably didn’t go through with the PGCE course!

So my relationship with my boys education is quite impassioned. After going to parents evening the other week it is apparent that both boys are naturally creative. I guess it’s in the genes. As much as I am impressed by both their individual teachers and the creativity that has been covered. I wish for them a more creative led education system. I am not sure this current system will display the bright sparks they are. But does that really matter?

Part of me wishes that I had the energy, resources and space to home school them. So that learning could be child-creative led. In today’s world I am not sure there is such a need to be solely focused on Maths and English and the level for a 6 year old seems absurd. I am not sure I could answer some of the SAT’s questions on the Key stage one paper. Yet they also do interesting topic work but I am not sure what that teachers them per say.

right brainEducation should not be about ticking boxes or getting grades. It should be about learning, exciting and encouraging learning as a life long process. My six year old’s teacher said that, ‘you can tell he sees drawing as work’. However, if you ask him what he likes at school he will say, “Art” and what he doesn’t like is “working”. Surely all learning needs to be seen as fun for as long as possible. If sitting a six year old down for fractions and finding a verb in a sentence is hard work it leave little for when they are 16 surely.

I also think achievement in school does not necessarily correlate with life achievement or career achievement.  It is difficult to compare my husband’s education, he was schooled in Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia and Fate. His education really started when he was at university in Cairo, which was free but that’s a whole other issue. So I could rant on but instead will  introduce this new collection. The Family Portrait, it is one of a set which is a smaller sized collection which I will try and cover over the next few weeks.

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Heads together

heads-and-sculptor
‘The rough collection’ (2016) Sam Shendi

My husband seems to be able to tap into some subliminal subconscious web of communication. There have been several times where he has been working on something which parallels what is happening else where.

These heads were created at the end of last year. Usually working to a smooth, perfected finish these pieces are the opposite. Rough and ready to represent the experiences in life that leave a mark and shape us. Entitled; ‘Mr Green’, ‘Mr Blue’, ‘Mr White’, ‘Mr Red’ and ‘Mr Grey’, colours often symbolising mood, emotion, feelings, expressions. I have put this image with the sculptor in the scene to show the scale of them. As a group, ‘Head’s together’ which yesterday I stumbled across is a campaign, http://www.headstogether.org.uk ,which is spearheaded by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is raising the awareness of “unresolved mental problems” and “wants to help people feel much more comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing and have the practical tools to support their friends and family.”

sketch
Sketch by Sam Shendi
mr-blue
Mr Blue (2016) Sam Shendi

I thought it would be interesting to show a sketch and sculpture together for a change. I love seeing the lines on paper and then the shift into three dimensions. The bird symbolises the idea of voices or the noise pecking away at the mind.

Mental health has huge stigma, often misunderstood and a reoccurring theme in my husband’s work partly I think because of his increasing awareness of how much it was hidden and not spoken of growing up in rural Egypt. It’s the same here in the UK but with media and celebrities speaking out it is something being uncovered and discussed more and more. It would appear it is a global issue on the rise of being discussed. Again, these pieces show a visual story. A visual interpretation of a subject, theme, idea which we all have connection with an experience of, a shared similarity beyond the differences of culture, class, education, gender.

Boys, Barnsley and beyond.

Friday afternoon I took the boys out of school and headed down to Barnsley, it was busy on the roads but according to my phone we were in good time. The boys had snacks in the back but my youngest wasn’t happy with egg sandwiches as they would make him smell he grumbled. This is the boy who eats enough eggs to warrant me having a chicken farm. My eldest pointed out the sign for Barnsley but ‘no’ I said with trusty faith in my technology, we were coming off at the next junction. So we finally came off the motorway and  into some traffic works and something didn’t feel quite right. So I pulled in at a garage and looked at my phone. Somehow, and I have no idea how this happened I was heading to the wrong postcode. Fortunately still in the Barnsley area but I had over shot and we were much further south than we needed to be. So I had to turnaround and head back 20 min north with only 5 minutes until opening time. My eldest who usually joins in with my panic with sound effects was surprisingly ultra supportive in my panic. Reminding me that it was all ok, that we were all ok and we would still get there. That everything was going to be alright. It was a good little test for me. I knew we didn’t need to get there at 4pm on the dot but I do like to get to places on time and it was frustrating. Trying to keep calm I reminded myself to think that for whatever reason we had been sent on a little extended tour getting frazzled wasn’t going to help. It was getting darker, and busier driving into the one way system of the town centre so my tension did increase a little. We found parking easily enough and found the gallery. Only 15 min late.phew and not overly stressed. So by the time I walked in I really needed a moment to compose myself as I then faced this:
exhibition-enterence

 

film-exhibit

It was amazing to see the projection of the video, the black and white photos of the process, and into a space with all 10 glorious sculptures together, with clean white walls and fantastic lighting to set them off. The boys took pictures and their sketchbook around, our youngest a little more keen than the eldest unusually so. The eldest appearing to showing small signs of transforming into a little teenager.

There were just enough people there for the private view to make it intimate and for us to talk to the people who had made the effort to come along. The Civic has some lovely interactive activities for children if you can make it whilst the show is running. We have already seen a few more press articles and photographs which are stunning, more of which you can see on The Sculptor’s Wife Facebook page. or this one below is good, if you have managed to stay off the world of Facebook.

press

I love the idea of transformation. We all have the ability to change. I think winter is the time to prepare for transformation. This morning the scenery on my way to the shop was stunning. The trees in their bare winter glory stood like silhouettes against a hazy, sleepy, wintry landscape of greys and blues with a bright sun lighting up the valley making it twinkle. The land retreats into a cold crisp coating. We can retreat to contemplate the year past and marinate in stillness on how we deal with things in the moment. So, we can be calmer and focused in those times of stress and panic be it small or big, when you get lost on the road or in life. Using that stillness to have the ability to see beyond the discomfort of the moment and know that ultimately everything is going to be alright.

Take Five, ‘artists who have lit up the genre’. How one got there.

black-and-white-photo-exhibi
The gallery, The Civic, Mother and Child by Sam Shendi

It’s about 14 years since I met ‘the sculptor’ and although when I met him he wasn’t practising very much, he did an occasional clay sculpture but he was painting and drawing all the time, as that is what his space limited him to. Over the years as we increased our space his practice developed along with it. We had a fantastic attic flat for a year where lots of clay maquettes were made. When we bought our first house they survived the move and were all sat on a folding dining room table until one night we heard a crash and the table had collapsed along with probably 50 or so clay sculptures.

Just after I had our first child I was sat in the living room and the midwife came to visit,  3 clay heads lined up on the floor and she pointed to them and said that will have to stop. I never really understood what she meant. I was in the fog of being a new mum. I hope she meant that we would have to stop putting them on the floor and that she didn’t mean to stop the practice.

We did stop putting them on the floor but the studio then was a tiny shed in our yard until about perhaps 4 years ago – I’ve lost count, when we finally got a studio space and this was pivotal in the development of his work.

In January I will have been online with this blog for 6 years and this is my 250th post. And in this time we have come so far. On Saturday in the weekend Yorkshire post, we were so excited to see this:

take-5
Saturday 26th November, Yorkshire Post Magazine

 

To be listed alongside Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore is a dream come true. We are lucky in Yorkshire to have had these two greats among our history, heritage and it is quite almost unbelievable to be seeing ‘the sculptor’s’ name in a top 5 list with them. From my point of view, it is so deserving and so true.

It is great publicity for our other achievement, a solo show opening at The Civic in Barnsley. Yesterday my husband and the team at the gallery set up and it’s all ready for the private view on Friday evening and the show runs until January 28th 2017. The photos he took of the set up look stunning. The exhibition is entitled Mother and Child and it was interesting looking back and my first three blog entries all of mother and child pieces. Mother and Child is an endless subject and timeless. This exhibition at The Civic is very much about storytelling.

mother-and-child-collection

‘The colour blue is prevalent throughout the collection, and is used in a way that it respectfully represents the struggles which go with motherhood; the depression, the sleepless nights, the fear of losing the child, the back pain, the swollen feet, the pain of giving birth and going beyond one’s own comfort, the sacrifice.

It seems ironic that the journey we have taken in developing the sculptor’s success into the art world mirrors my own journey as a mother. When I look at these pieces they are monuments of the last 10 years of motherhood for me. But they are everyone. They will touch and impact on anyone who sees them. They are a reminder of the truth, motherhood is one of the greatest and unrecognised and often under appreciated roles on earth.

If you are in Yorkshire anytime from  3rd to January 28th I would recommend a visit to The Civic. Open Tuesday -Saturday, 10am- 5pm.

A description about how the ‘calligraphy collection’ came about

 

The start of this concept began whilst drawing figurative sketches, practising with paper and pencil. Looking at the sketches there was a realisation that the outline can be the sculpture its self rather than the volume within. Knowing that an outline does not naturally exist and we only see things because of what is behind it, therefore the idea of this collection is to create a non-existing outline with an existing form. Like some painters started to use a black outline round their realistic paintings. Like if you imagine the painting without the content and only the black outline.
Focusing on the outline  stainless steel pipes were manipulated to keep form and create abstraction.  They looks like words. Born and raised in Egypt, when my husband sees them he can see the Arabic words. With a small manipulation to the outline actually the piece casts a shadow of obvious words recognised by the eye. Looking at the work through a camera’s eye, shows  that the shadow and reflection of the sculptures itself writes Arabic words but still the form is, as a sculpture.

Perhaps, the viewer will only see abstract shapes but this collection is the outline of classical forms. This displays the journey and connection between classical sculpture and abstraction. It is all one form it just depends on how the artist presents it. It is a natural progression from formal sculpture to simplification.

So through the process and progress a combination of sculptural form and language appears. The addition of the colour and the shadows, which cast on the walls and on the floors, still influences the concept.

From simply a visual connection to the mysterious words hidden within. Endless ideas can come out of this theme.
So the words can describe form and still maintain human form. Colour in all the themes describe emotion, movement, and experience and is a description of the motivation behind the piece.

Sculptures in the Calligraphy collection

calligraphy 5
The Portrait
calligrapgy 7
‘Madame Butterfly’
calligraphy 15
Mother and child
caigraphy 11
Body Language
Calligraphy 1
Signature
calligrapgy 14
‘Memories’

calligrapgy 3 calligrapgy 6 calligraphy 10 calligraphy 12
calligraphy 16
calligraphy 17

 

Read, Write, Draw, Sculpt.

painitng sculpture
Sculpture framing painting ‘The Thinker’

I have been reading much more recently partly because family and friends have gifted me good books and writing courses (very grateful and much enjoying). I am also more aware of how reading helps my writing and have started reading more factual history books too, this always starts off with great enthusiasm on my part and then quickly wanes as it requires far more concentration and mental athletics. I am trying to slow down my reading and take in each word rather than scan the page just to get to the next chapter and really take it in more. This is tricky, especially when I just want to get to the end of a good book. It affects me though I find, reading alters my mood.

 

painting sculpture
Section of sculpture framing ‘Sisters’ painting
scuptures two
Looking through one sculpture towards another

 

Emotions definitely have the impact to change us, our feelings can be seen visually in body shape, facial expression and mood. All I want to do when reading a book is read and be in the book, everything else becomes secondary, I feel I become the character(s) only when it is well written. At the moment can’t understand how someone can create this. I can only get so far in my attempts to draw up a fictional person with words. A scene or one moment. Some of these writing exercises are making me think more visually and using words to describe, it’s like sketching verbally. The sculptor uses emotions both observed and experienced in both his paintings, drawings and sculptures. His work is a visual diary, both his drawing and his making. Drawing inspiration from the everyday.sketches

Sketches, visual thoughts, pictorial diary

sketches 2

‘Marvel’-ous, (a lesson in daring to dream)

At the beginning of this year we were anticipating the new Marvel movie which was coming out in April, we went to the cinema highly excited about the possibility of seeing the sculpture on set but came away disappointed. We saw nothing.

This week we were able to sit in the comfort of our living room with the technology of pause and rewind at the click of a button we found it. I couldn’t believe it. Then we painstakingly went through the credits and found ‘Sam Shendi’. Another lesson in patience, setbacks and then results.

Yesterday, it was Stan Lee’s birthday, his Marvel comic super hero creations inspired my husband when he was younger. He sat in his bedroom in a little village in northern Egypt and drew super heroes. Who would have thought then that one day he would have a piece of art work in a Marvel movie. A sculpture in-shot with Captain America, Thor and Tony Stark. Dare to dream. Marvelous.

sliced
‘Sliced’ by Sam Shendi
film clip
Avengers Age of Ultron movie paused. ‘Sliced’ sculpture right of ‘Thor’s’ head.
credits
Credits – Sam Shendi, 3rd line below NASA.

Relief

blue edge
‘Blue’ in exhibition photo by Renate Forster.

November is over and so with it my writing challenge (#nanowrimo) and I’ve needed a bit of time to recover. What with writing and running the shop, and the boys, it was a relief to have the sculptor back from his ten-day trip to Munich. Everything that should have been straight forward whilst he was away was problematic but my mantra for that time was, “no problems only solutions”- one I have learnt from him. Being mindful not to feel ‘Blue.’

sketches look
Sketches and the sculptors hand by Renate Forster.

The photographer Renate Forster took some amazing images of which I have just selected a few to show. The sculptor gave her a brief of capturing art work and people with layers of focus and they have turned out brilliantly.

looking up
The Branch, and the sculptor in the background photo by Renate Forster.

I think this is one of my favourite shots, the focus of the lady looking up at the bird and the painting and sculptor in the background out of focus gives this image depth and detail. I love how she is glancing up at bird perched on the foot. The boys and i have been noticing the lack of birds during these heavy down pouring rainy days and when the weather breaks and gives a natural relief the birds flying is a peaceful sign.

Whilst the sculptor was away I was able to call upon my brother to hep me out of tricky situations when wrong toilets arrived. He was able to quickly jump in his car and go and collect. At the weekend he went off, with his car piled with items collected and donated by local people, to Calais to give some help at the ports. ‘Crazy, Interesting’ is all I heard so far with lots more nationalities than I had thought. I don’t want to highlight this to brag but to point out that in this present climate of almost despair and downward spiralling there are little glimmers of hope. There is some relief. As we plough on into December keep mindful of giving. Even a simple smile is a gift that can brighten up someone else’s day.

captured dancers
‘Body and Soul’, Munich 2015

Portrait of an artist

 

Portrait

Oil on Canvas by 250 X 140 cm by Luca Indraccolo

 

This is not another art swap (unfortunately..more of that coming soon) but I had to share this. We just got an email through with an image of a painting produced by the most incredibly talented Luca Indraccolo. It is the one which my husband stood for last summer. It is a massive painting, oil on canvas 250 X 140 cm.

For me, this initial view looks mysterious and dark, Italian Mafia meet Turner. It also reminds me when I first met my husband and he said something along the lines of, follow and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Perhaps this is what he is saying here, though there is more of a sense of foreboding in the painting which wasn’t true in our life. The contrast between the dark depths of the pit below his feet and the white misty landscape behind is stunning. The likeness to my husband is remarkable it looks like a photograph of him. I want to take a closer look so I really hope I can see it in the flesh on day.

If you would like to, it will be on display at ‘Le Dame’ gallery in London from July 9th to the 30th.