Salah v Shendi and the love of success.

Connections, Egyptian, Public Art, Steel

 

This week has been an extra busy one. A trip to London for the sculptor, there and back in a night and day with no sleep. The sculptures  looking fantastic in 99 Bishopgate, London. A Yorkshire cross-country event, where a select few get medals but the completion of the course is a success unto itself, and Young Voices in Manchester arena for the youngest and I. Where singers stood on stage and talked about it being their childhood dream. Behind them the 6,000 strong children’s choir of which maybe  a handful will become singers. We also had various  mundane doctors and dentist appointments for us all to juggle in through the mix.

It was also my husband’s birthday though sadly the anniversary of his Father’s passing one year ago on the same day. With that and recovering from toothache, the reality of turning another year older was not such a celebration.

Apparently moments after his birth, his father ran with the newborn baby to his parents village to show off proudly the baby boy. My husband grew up in a small village on the Nile delta more than 120 kilometers from Cairo. Born in the 1970’s the landscape was very different to it is today, more fields more open space. He also had a few years of his childhood in Saudi Arabia and Yemen with a mix of family memebers, very opposing experiences in each country. So his whole childhood wasn’t centred in Egypt and wasn’t an easy one. It was almost a bit nomadic in some ways and this, I think created a sort of detachment from people and objects a little. It gave him a self-reliance and a resilience, perhaps.

His life story is different from Salah’s (the Egyptian Liverpool player for those of you who may not know who I am talking about) who was born a number of years later into a modern generation but a comparable village on the Nile delta North of Cairo. Both seem to have a unique determination to succeed from a young age, although perhaps Salah knew his talent was football sooner than Shendi realised it was sculpting. Despite different pursuits they both had a dream and a remarkable journey in pursuing it.

Of course, the fickle footballing world has made Salah’s story that much more accessible than that of my husband’s. Already in a book form suitable for young readers, I have been reading about the young footballer to my youngest son which has been inspiring but brought home the similarity of their roots. The speed to which Salah has gained notoriety is a bit different though. An artists pathway more slow and steady but with the advantage of having a potentially longer career span. My husband gets frustrated that footballers get so much attention and followers and that we become tribal when supporting football teams. He still enjoyed watching the Liverpool matches with us when we were in Egypt though!

Art and football are two antipodal worlds. However, I do think sometimes sport can become an art. Our youngest son loves them both When he doesn’t want to be a professional footballer he wants to be a fashion designer and consequently  Shendi and Salah are both his heroes at the moment. Obviously as his Mother I believe he can do either and I want him to be aspirational. But realistically both are reknowned endeavours which require raw talent, experience and a lot of luck.

It is interesting to me, that what seems to define success at the moment and how the world tends to view success is in terms of material wealth, career and salary. I feel there are more important routes to follow than a material one. People seem very quick to drop their dreams for a security blanket of a job which will enable them to buy the house, the car, the holiday.

Yet if Shendi and Salah can rise up into the art and sporting worlds from small villages in Egypt, overcoming all kinds of obstacles along the way, then it feels like anything is possible. However, one of my favourite quotes from a Disney film is,  “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere”. Having the talent at something has to be a starting point. At what point do these dreams become realised and when is it deemed a success. Why do we love success?

With my eldest I have been reading a book about people who have overcome and endured hardships yet become successful. The message being that failing and flopping is the most important part of succeeding.

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people

into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates

I think that it more obvious when you lose in sport but maybe easier to get back up again but can you ever fail? In Art it is vague in both being successful and knowing when you’ve lost. It seems to me more of a case of enduring the rises and falls but remaining focused on the direction of the dream.  This image below captures so well, ‘Get your dream’, which is perhaps a better way of being successful.

GET YOUR DREAM

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Colours of the sun

collections, Egyptian

We seem to be racing to the end of term with school plays, world cup football matches (far too stressful), a few invoices to input for the business , re-starting a 6 week challenge and relentless sunshine and with all of that, I haven’t had much time or inclination to write. However, something in me has a strong sense of commitment to this self-imposed posting a blog entry on a Friday. Hoping I will be able to  keep it up over the summer holidays. We shall see.

The boys school play was Joseph and his technicolor dream-coat which because of the glorious weather was able to be performed outdoors. Colourful fabric was tied along the school fence. The last show, last swimming lessons, last trips. It marks the end of our eldest’s time through primary school. Have we seen the last of the sun? We certainly needed the rain today and a world cup final wasn’t meant to be. Making all the feel of being in a foreign country with a football team with a chance of winning the world cup a dream.

The twists and turns of life make it the interesting journey that it is. So in my interesting twist and a turn of a day, I could have made more links and references with a little more time but I am going to post this promptly .

Remember your hopes and dreams. They can still be a reality if you allow them to be.

For the story of these sculptures click on the link:   The Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti

4 colours and shendi

Sam Shendi with 4 of 8 pieces of the Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti collection

Sky, Earth, Water

Philosophy, Soul searching

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.

Sky Earth Water (2016)

Tonight is the night

Exhibitions, Galleries

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.

gallery outsidelarge posterposter2

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.

unveiling

Yesterday, he had interviews.magazine art timein coversation

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.

Here is a sneak preview :

sneak peak 1sneak peaak 2

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

History
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.

Ripe for rowing

Colour, Mother and Child
ripe

‘Ripe’, (2016) Sam Shendi

This was me 6 years ago ( well not quite) I’m a bit late posting, due to problems with my computer downloading images and being slow getting the words out! However, it’s enabled me to tie two themes together. My youngest sixth birthday was on Saturday and we watched the rowing and the woman’s eight win a silver medal.

In the last twenty years there has been huge developments in woman’s rowing, yesterday was a fantastic result. I sat and watched in remembrance of my days on the water at Durham and seeing Jess Eddie as a school girl rowing out of Durham’s ARC. Thinking of my good friend who made it to the Beijing Olympics and a former fellow high school student who was in the men’s eight. In the heptathalon, Jessica Ennis Hill proofed you can have a baby and come back to true athletic form. I am in awe of that. In the rowing and the athletics and for all the Olympic sports, there have been many comments about the sacrifice: the time away from family, the hours of training,  and that the moment of success which could so easily be snatched in the last second, out of the winning. Not usually decisive, I made that very clear conscious choice as I went down to London in pursuit of the rowing dream that I wasn’t going to be willing to sacrifice any more time for rowing. Four years had been enough for me.

Now as I watch my husband’s dedication, I again sit on the edge of that choice. My husband sacrifices for his art but it’s a different progress than the journey through a sporting one. For the sports person their window of opportunity is short and if added into that as a woman you have a child then the sacrifices are even greater. If you are pursuing any dream there has to be dedication and persistence and a choice of leading a life which is in pursuit of a goal.

There are sculptures of heavily pregnant woman but for me they are too realistic. Each blue circle on this piece represents a day of the pregnancy, the journey of the development. Perhaps too it can represent the sacrifice. Motherhood is the ultimate of that.

 

ripe 2

Aim high, dream big, Go Global

Public Art
IMG_3866

‘The Bench’ in Lister Park, Bradford 2015

This morning the sculptor waits at the studio for a transport company coming to pick up ‘The Bench’ to take it to Manchester airport. Way back in March we got an email saying a client was interested in it and could it be ready quickly. So my husband went down to London, dismantled it from its site outside Canary Wharf, brought it back re-polished it and got it ready, made crates and then it sat in the studio waiting. Then we were told the client wanted to wait to June. So this is what sparked the desperate need for the storage unit.

‘The Bench’ was sat waiting in the storage unit and we began to think perhaps it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Then this Monday morning we got a call from Manchester airport to say they were coming to collect a package for Taiwan. My husband said, ‘Sorry, I don’t have anything going to Taiwan’. “Are you the artist, Sam Shendi,” they asked. For some reason, we thought it was going to USA, apparently not!. We are really going global! So yesterday my husband fixed more wheels to the bottom of the crates to enable him and the driver to carefully wheel it to the van. This was not without hiccup as he almost dropped it on himself, I was horrified to hear, as he recounted his tale of trying to lift them himself.

Last night, the sculptor starred out the window almost dumbstruck (and I say almost because those who know him will know this is quite impossible) by the thought his sculpture was going to the other side of the world. I am not sure what was going through his mind. It is a huge achievement, that’s for sure, but it still feels we are climbing a very huge mountain. This is just one peak on the journey.

My youngest son sometimes asks me if he thinks that one day he might be a professional footballer. Someone mentioned recently that it is such a small chance that a kid playing footy can make it. But then I think, his father came from a small village in the middle of Northern Egypt with all kinds of stories that you wouldn’t imagine that one day far from there he would be shipping a huge sculpture off to Taiwan , sold through Saatchi art. Aim high, dream big, I say.

Float like a butterfly and don’t be defeated

Colour, Connections
bull

In the studio: ‘Defeated Butterflies” by Sam Shendi.

I have used a few quotes of Muhammad Ali’s in my posts, as his determination and relentlessness remind me of my husband’s. It seems apt that I write about this today. My husband came downstairs this morning and said. Muhammad Ali died yesterday. I felt quite shocked, I don’t know why.

This almost colossal sculpture which my husband finished a few weeks ago immediately made me think of the line, ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’. Not just because of the butterflies but the idea of being a fighter, about feeling defeated. When asked about his Parkinson’s disease Ali  said, “Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important. It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk. Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.” There is no being defeated. Everything has a purpose.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

A friend told me the other day that seeing images of the making of the bull made her think it was a very masculine piece. She couldn’t believe it when she saw the images of the finished sculpture as the colour, the pattern, the wings of the butterfly, makes it feminine. This piece has everything.

“The man with no imagination has no wings.” – Muhammad Ali

Pace and the art of being in the moment

Making

I wasn’t so surprised to see it’s been 24 days since I last posted a blog. Time feels it is running faster and faster. My sister-in-law once told me “life is like a room, in one door, out the other.” The days at the moment seem to pass with increasing speed.

The speed at which something happens.s I seem to fail miserably at keeping up with any one challenge I am pleased that this blog is ticking a long. So I must keep it up. Along with all the other challenges I set myself.

The sculptor works daily and many of his Facebook comments remark about his process, his relentlessness, his speed and if or not he ever rests. I think he has a keen awareness that the physicality of his work may be that one day he will not be as able to work with the same energy.

Making 4

‘Defeated’ in progress

Working on the Mother and Child collection in the studio

making 3 making 2 making 1

When I think about why I haven’t been writing, it’s because I have been reading and walking. All of which require a certain pace and both I do far to fast. On a family Sunday walk this weekend my husband told me slow down. I didn’t need to be walking so fast. I skim read because I want to get to the end of the story. I am highly aware at the moment that I am  rushing the children constantly with barking orders.

The mindful art of being in the moment is also the ability to slow down, to be present truly and focus on what you are doing in that moment.

On the other hand, my writing project has halted at the first hurdle of editing and ordering chapters. I dart around from one project to the other not yet finding a steady pace to it all. Despite the sculptor’s speed and seemingly unrelenting pace, he always has the ability to be in the moment. I think this is what gives him the ability to harness the imagination an creativity into the creation. I have just finished reading (too quickly) one of the most beautiful reads. A book which made me realise I need to slow down the moments, really understand what my, earlier in the year, daily yoga challenge was teaching about taking in a deep breath and changing pace.

Sculpture in places, life and the latest addition

Exhibitions, Galleries

memories vogue

Vougue business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really surprised that my post of a single puppy image got more ‘likes’ than any of my other post. Why is that, feedback please?

Anyway, I will carry on writing regardless. The Sculptor and our eldest boy have journeyed to school for the past couple of years talking about dreams of living on a farm, building houses and mainly having dogs. I say it in the plural sense as it did get to the point where they were discussing having two Doberman dogs and a German shepherd. However, we always said realistically we could only get a dog when we moved house. I am not sure when that changed?!

Somehow in February the big dog idea turned to a little dog idea after the ‘Artist’ had one of his ‘visions’ and before I even had time to think or argue much in my defence of not having a dog; my husband and I were driving off to a view a little pup unbeknown to the boys.

Our youngest a little more fearful of the canine creature due to being jumped on as an infant and the animal loving eldest were totally amazed and surprised when they came to the studio to find a puppy. ‘Is it ours…to keep?’ The beaming smiles and the moment of stepping out and throwing his hands back in sheer delight were a pleasure to see and almost worth my deep stomach wrenching nerves about the whole endeavour.

To his credit it has not so far, been a five-minute wonder. The eldest has risen to the challenge of the waking early, entertaining and peeing and poo-ing and the all round additional responsibility that comes with the joys of a puppy. Fortunately, it isn’t a big dog but the house does seem to have shrunk all over again with the addition.

Just to make life so much more chaotic in the initial days of puppy initiation, the youngest got sick, the sculptor’s back went kaput and so the sleepless nights just added to the logistical reorganisation of the following days chaos.

So pictures and images of sculptures appearing in Vogue Magazine and galleries in London and Paris and emails of requests for sculptures to exhibit cheer us up and remind us that, “nothing is permanent in this world, not even our troubles.” Charlie Chaplin.

artful sculpture

‘Signature’ at Hignell Gallery, Mayfair

Signature window mayfair