Heads together

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‘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.”

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Sketch by Sam Shendi
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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.

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Aim high, dream big, Go Global

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‘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.

Practicality and the art of tidying

I have been itching, quite literally, as my eczema has been so bad but an investment in a pair of marigolds seems to be helping with the problem. Suggested by my husband, no problems only solutions. However, that was not my point. I have been desperate to carry on with my sorting and de-cluttering since the boys went back to school on Tuesday. I have been at the shop though, as ever practical, my husband ordered a storage unit for the side of the studio to put in work which is not in exhibition but finished so to create more space in the studio for creating. He has been impatiently wanting this solution for a while.

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He booked out a whole day to wait for the delivery, only to be told they couldn’t make it as they needed a special machine. They said they could bring it at 6pm so my husband waited until 7.30pm and it still didn’t arrive. 8am the following morning we received a call saying they were outside the studio. We both wonder why we are so excited about storage and tidying at the moment.

Today, the sculptor was up early (3.30am) again London bound as we have excitedly sold ‘Madame Butterfly’. Then he and his right hand man are heading on to deliver the remainder of the calligraphy collection to the Hannah Pescher sculpture gardens.

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Some of the calligraphy collection heading to Hannah Pescher

So I have been in the shop all week unable to carry on my house de-clutter project. However, since my last post which resonated with many people a dear friend pointed me in the direction of the KonMari method. So, I have had time this week to do a little research. The method has been created by a Japanese lady Marie Kondo.

Japan and all things Japanese are in my blood, it feels or has definitely have influenced the shaping of me in someway. When I was 18 I went to a small village to live and work in a Leonard Cheshire home. At that time I had only ever been to France and Holland, so the culture shock was huge but I embraced and enjoyed the deep and spiritual meaning which seeped into every aspect of the lifestyle and way of being.

This sculpture, ‘Madame Butterfly’ is the outline of a woman wearing a Kimono. A geisha girl. The opera is very much about the meeting of east and west and there is such contrast between the attitudes and styles of the western world and the eastern traditions. As in the simplicity I desire for the home, this style of the theme of work by husband is about stripping back the outline to the simplest form.

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Looking into Marie Kondo’s style and her art of tidying was a great reminder of the Japanese art of being and living. Something I have not been doing and not obviously picked up from my time in Japan as I looked last night at the disaster and disorganisation of my domain. So, eager to implement it, I ‘KonMari’ -ed my wardrobe which is where she suggests to start. With clothing. This seems where I have been going wrong. Starting with all my Japanese memorabilia, letters and souvenir boxes was too hard. I need to learn how to sense whether an item ‘Spark’s Joy’ or not. According to her, by the time I have worked through clothes, books, documents and miscellaneous only then can I tackle those things that have meaning.

In just two hours I folded my huge pile of clothes, origami style and feel instantly inspired. Today wearing a skirt I have never worn before, so much so that the boys were shocked this morning and wondered if I was taking them to school with it on. A skirt which I bought in Egypt when I was staying with my sister-in-law for an extended period of time during maternity leave. So immediately the item has a memory, a story attached to the item of clothing and in this case it spark’s joy. Although, I did have to negotiate the steps up to school a little bit unused to the length of dress.

In today’s busy, constant buying and consumer driven world we all seem to have a deep desire to get back to a more basic way of life. Once we have detached from the past we can focus on the here and now and have no fear of the future- this is the theory. Can we put it into practice?

As the sculptor parts with another sculpture to someone who has purchased it as an item which will hopefully spark joy for them, I wonder what to do with my treasured kimono? Defiantly not something practical to be wearing on the school run.

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Kimono Section of ‘Madame Butterfly’

‘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.

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

Sun, sea, sand sculptures ( and some ancient writing on the wall)

Years used to be punctuated in school holidays, more so because my parents were both teachers. Gradually this shifted in my 20’s to January being a month of heavy diary entries, promises to improve and a new way of seeing the world. Last year a list of three things. The first I achieved daily, the second a little in the last two weeks of the year and I can’t even remember what the third one was. Such is the way of resolutions.

2015 has begun in cocoon not even realising a sense of time or day. 18 days of sunshine, with sea air was the tonic to an intense and busy four years. I sat starting out at sea and wondered why we like to find peace in vast open nothingness. I heard somewhere that the sea is the world’s consciousness. Perhaps, we stare at the blank blue canvas which give us a mirror to our own conscious being. For the boys the days on the beach with the sculptor were playing and digging resulting in these:

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Now we have to dig in and start again or get back on the treadmill of reality. So I slowly uncurl after being spoilt with an amazing trip and focused family time. Having been in the sun and coming back to the cold is a little disorinatating and the new year seems meaningless. It has made me realise how arbitory time is. When we looked at the creations of the ancient Egyptians the mind blowing factor was just how long ago it was created and that it was all for the afterlife. The creativity of humanity with the drawings and the pigmentation within the desert showed their skill and precision and search for meaning.

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Each time I go to Egypt I learn something, somehow the country challenges your comfort zones. Perhaps this is more so because my husband is Egyptian and this time I realised more than ever that I am raising two Egyptian boys. They thrived in the heat, they learnt some arabic and displayed their social skills meeting family for the first time and making friends everywhere they went. I embrace this for them, the uniqueness of having two cultures so diverse and so contrasting and hope that they can use the best of both for themselves. I have lots of little anecdotes and stories but feel it would make this too long. We are back to the every day life of juggling work and art. The boys struggled last night knowing Baba was going away, even just for one night, having had such quality time with him. The Sculptor is already in London collecting the appropriately named; ‘The Family’ from it’s stay in Berkley square London and this last week has been busy packaging up ‘The Kiss’ which we say goodbye to and send to Panama on its new journey.

So we use the ancient writing on the wall to move forward, the sun’s energy to give us strength to get through a grey January and the thoughts of the sea to develop our consious awareness. It’s the start of a busy year for the sculptor and so for all of us on this journey of art and meaning.

Season’s Greetings

I thought that once both boys were in school I would have more time to write, but it seems I have had more time to do everything else and even less time to write! I think this term has seen less entries than ever (not that I am counting). The art work keeps being produced by the ever busy sculptor. More meetings and contacts keep being made, making it a little confusing to know in what direction we are heading and who we need to help us. In some cases it is really clear and in others it’s hard to know who is taking the benefit.

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‘Portrait’

The temperature dropped last week and so the sculptor is starting to freeze. However, we are all a little giddy at the moment getting ready for a first big holiday to Egypt in four years. In fact, the last time we were away was when I hatched the idea for this blog. This week I have been writing various emails and on the notice we’ve put on the shop door adding “Seasons Greetings”. My husband asked me what it meant…. I was a little stumped. It is of course a spoken or written greeting commonly used before or during the Christmas holiday. Then, true to form with my grammatical errors I discovered  it isn’t seasons greetings, it’s ‘season’s greetings’. In Western cultures the late autumn and early winter contain a number of holidays associated with the ideals of peace, plenty, the joy of family and friends and the spread of goodwill and understanding. Season’s Greetings is a phrase which encompass all of this as wish of all these good things from the speaker to the person they are addressing.

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‘The Studio’

4 years writing and 4 years of waiting to return to the waters of the Nile, we fly of to Africa where we will be saying ” greetings of peace” to people. I wish you all a ‘Happy Holiday’ and greetings of peace, joy and goodwill and many thanks for reading this journal of sorts over the last 4 years.

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‘New work, part of collection – more about it in 2015’

 

The Family

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‘The Family’

This piece is the third in the series ‘Beginnings’ and entitled ‘The Family’ included as the start of community, the point from which generations follow. The beginnings of so many events, feelings, memories, a microcosm of the world.

In recent days I have felt for those families affected by the missing plane in Malaysia. The impact on relatives of those sentenced in Egypt. The families suffering in Syria. When a catastrophe hits an individual it has repercussions on the whole family.

This piece depicts the connection between Father, Mother, Child. The precarious nature of this is visual and from one angle we see Mother and Child with only the thin line of ‘Father’ and from the other angle ‘The Father’ is dominant. The idea that genetic character traits we inherit from our parents and grandparents in some fashion shape who we are.

'The Family' (Mother and Child)
‘The Family’ (Mother and Child)

The Family is a complex and intricate balance. As a unit it encompasses all the emotions we can feel. Individual families can be so different and  diametrically so similar.  Within our own family unit, the fact that we are mixed culture makes this very interesting to experience and learn from, both shared and different values and traditions. For a while I thought this was unique but actually with  increased discussions with families even where both parents are from the same country a difference in backgrounds and upbringing can create stumbling blocks and need for comprises when children become that shared responsibility.

For me the colour in this piece also has some meaning, the connection between the Mother’s head as yellow and the child as yellow displaying the way a mother’s mind is preoccupied with her child but also the vision of hope for the future, for the next generation. The peaceful white body of the mother connected to the father with ‘red’ for passion, love, heat, anger, attention, warmth, protection. The symbolism of this simplistically and elegantly piece shows all this as it portrays the ‘family unit’

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‘The Family’
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The Family’
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‘The Family Unit’

 

Getting Ready

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‘Section of ‘The Branch’ to be in exhibition at The Royal British Sculptor Society’ from next week (31/10/13)

I have been busy this weekend ‘getting ready’ for my husband’s best friend arriving and staying with us. Shopping, cleaning, sorting, baking, cooking, all the things we do to prepare for visitors. It wouldn’t be a negative thing except for then nobody can do anything until guest has arrived and then everyone can relax and mess it all up again! I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but my ‘traditional English roast dinner’ was practically perfect. With no burning or breakages in sight. This was aided with a list of timings and post stick notes stuck on pans. All the scrubbing and washing and wiping and brushing is a preparation for an end result that doesn’t last. The peeling, the chopping, the stirring, for food that is eaten in less than half the time. However, when done lovingly the pleasure is in seeing happy satisfied friends and family at the end of it.

This weekend also saw the wrapping and sorting of the sculptures ‘getting ready’ for transit this week down to London. My husband remarked that they all look like dead bodies, mummified ready for their journey to another destination. There is still a bit of paper work to be done but most of the preparation has gone really well. Then wagon is set to arrive for the loading and for a band of merry men to take the ‘exhibition’ down and install it for the preview. To which we will then all go back down again the following week. Again, which we will need to ‘get ready for’.

My brother is ‘getting ready’ for leaving home for the other side of the world and my sister for a new job. So we are in the ‘getting ready’ period. Sometimes it can feel like we are permanently in that point in time, preparing for something with the end result feeling too far away or when it comes around we realise the ‘getting ready’ was the best part.

Nature is ‘getting ready’ for its period in hibernation. The Trees are shedding their leaves and the earth is in retreat. Everything in this life fades and dies. Ultimately what are we all ‘getting ready’ for and what are our preparations?

Change

The summer has really felt like a summer this year, dry and sunny days, picnics and playing in the river, riding bikes and long evenings. The shift into a new season will be a noticeable change. My youngest is starting nursery preschool and so we are having a change in our daily pattern after the holidays and return to school routine. I feel nostaligc but a sense of renewed energy to come and a chance to refocus. Change is a necessary part of life.

The new work needs considering,more time to prepare the words alongside them. We need to do the writings now in preperation for the exhibition at the end of October. The sculptures had their photoshoot and we have a set of fantastic images to use.

I am reshowing one of the ‘Souls’ here. The idea of a ‘sculpture within’.

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I will leave it with you to sit and stare at the image and let me know what you can see within it.

Some people change, some remain the same, unwilling or unable. As we head into autumn we need to start reflecting on how to improve our characters, to be a little kinder, be a little calmer, draw a little closer to the depths of our soul. Think about our attitudes, our belief systems. There are some disturbing things happening globally. Behaviour which need to change.

Change comes from within.