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.
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.
Here is a sneak preview :
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:
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Working on the Mother and Child collection in the studio
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.
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.
Names and meanings. We name our art pieces with laconic titles. Brief, direct and to the point. I sometimes have an input in the naming of works but it often becomes a joke. Like, who thought of the name of our kitchen business ‘Arabesque’, I am pretty sure it was me. (In fact I think I have written that somewhere before). It was probably a whole elongated conversation but who actually thought of it gets a little lost. The same has since happened with art works, it becomes a discussion to get to the final single or double word for the most apt title, who names it in the end we don’t really know!
Naming of art work in the art world has become a whole subject in itself in recent years with works having extended titles giving chapter and verse about a piece.”Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, a Second Before Waking Up” by (Salvador) Dali is rather a long conflated one. Painter Debra Ramsey says: “I am now more aware, in our fast paced world, it’s safe to assume that the viewer expects at least some information right up front.. the title can lead the viewer into something, and can be used to broaden the “readership” of the work.”
However, I think we’ve gone with the opposite idea. There is so much information today that the short succinct title makes the viewer able to consider it whilst focusing on the work itself. Letting the work speak for itself. On the other hand though when you hear my husband speak about his work or read about it, it does open up so much more and a deeper level of thinking about the subject. So I do see why more information about an art piece can sometimes be helpful.
So to the name, ‘Shendi’. When my brother was still at school he somehow took the name ‘Shendi’ on and would always call my husband by it, “Now then Shendi” and some how coined it as his own nickname. There is something about it that could almost be a first name, like Jackson or Connor has become. So Friends have indeed started to call him, simply, Shendi.
However, Shendi (Arabic: شندي) is a place, a town in northern Sudan, situated on the east bank of the Nile River 150 km northeast of Khartoum. Additionally, another town named Shendi in Ethiopia. So the fact that it is the name of a place also gives it a bit of weight. One day perhaps we may venture there. But whether our surname should actually be spelt ‘Shendi’ when we pronounce it sometimes more like’ Shindy’ could be a question. Although, when I say that out loud now I think it is more ‘Shen’ than ‘Shin’. Somehow Shendi looks better when you see the letters and the fact that Shindy means a noisy disturbance or lively party totally puts me off.
I decided to change my name only once the boys had been born and we were travelling. I had to change my passport anyway and it made sense and a lot easier to all be the same family name. Now, for school I have found this easier to be Mrs Shendi, but a lot of documentation is still in my maiden name which caused me great difficulty when I recently had to upgrade my phone. The whole female name change issue when getting married is an interesting one as in Egypt and many other middle eastern countries, a woman doesn’t change her name. I did consider this when getting married but because this tradition doesn’t apply here I would be Mrs ‘enter maiden name’ which would be the same as my mother and I thought that was really confusing. I think it is interesting that the fact that woman in the middle east don’t take a man’s name when they marry, isn’t often known. Perhaps we should have more of a ‘Madame’ and ‘Mademoiselle’ system to specify age rather than marriage? I could happily have Mme and be ‘ME SHENDI’.
I jest and digress but found this lovely appropriate quote, “Everyone you meet has a part to play in your story. And while some may take a chapter, others a paragraph, and most will be no more than scribbled notes in the margins, someday, you’ll meet someone who will become so integral to your life, you’ll put their name in the title.” –Beau Taplin.
This sums it up rather nicely for me, for who knows maybe one day ‘Shendi’ will be ranked along with Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet. We know them after all by their surnames not their first names. Even well-known artists today tend to be thought of in Surnames, Hockney, Gormley, Hirst? Maybe, or less so? Another topic of discussion.
Anyway, I could quite easily imagine people asking have you have seen a ‘Shendi’? and they wouldn’t be meaning a lively party. So there’s no argument in the naming of my title or I guess the sculptor’s. Shendi will do nicely.
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.
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, visual thoughts, pictorial diary