Who am I?

Mother and Child, Relationships, Soul searching

The age old existential question, Who am I?

We can easily describe ourselves in labels, as I have done for the name of my site, The Sculptor’s Wife. We can be wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend or husband, father, brother, son but that doesn’t make us who we are. I remember my sister telling me this after she had been in a lecture where they were asked to do this exercise and she had described herself in labels. Roles, which do play an important part in what we do.

In thinking about this, I took a little quiz at www.quizony.com which  kindly told me I was balanced, emotionally stable, a calm steady force and anchor for those around me. Without blowing my own trumpet I’d say that was pretty acurate. I need to be in a house with three male Shendi’s all with artistic temperaments (whatever that means). However, this painting might suggest otherwise:

Painting of me

Painting, The Sculptor’s Wife. by Sam Shendi 2018

 

The sculptor painted this earlier in the year whilst we were doing home improvements and whilst doing so we moved around the paintings. My husband re-used an old canvas of his which had been framed. There are several amusing things about this painting. I am green, I am holding a pineapple like a baby, I am wearing a pearl necklace which I don’t own. I think I look very severe with a nose like a smurf, not calm and anchored at all. Perhaps I do look anchored. I somehow look routed to the spot not willing to move from my view point. The funny thing is I think it looks very much like my Aunty, my Dad’s sister. Although, as I have lived with this portrait staring down at me in my kitchen over the last few months it does have an air of resemblance, despite it being like a caricature. I do tend to have pink cheeks!

I started this blog nearly nine years ago almost just as a documentary for myself not with intention of people reading it. This year I am really starting to think about growing it (any tips/advice on how to greatly received). Prompting me to consider where it is going and where I am going as me, myself. My desire to write. To expand. My role as wife and mother is pretty central to my day to day living and purpose. I manage much of the admin for both our kitchen business and our expansion into the art world with sculpture. In today’s world if we are not career driven then it can be seen as not aspirational and as though being a homemaker is not ambitious enough, as though it is something from the 1950’s. I think and hope ‘we’ are turning a corner in what defines success and how to achieve happiness.

 I started this year with ‘purpose’ as an intention. Not having a resolution but a word for the year. In doing so I have set goals and now well on my way to achieving them which gives me hope for 2019. There are so many more ways to learn and self improve than doing so through a structure of a system designed by others.

Last night whilst reading to my son the character was saying that everything happened by chance. I said I didn’t agree and that when things happened it was fate. My son said they were the same thing, but in discussing it, we decided fate was more connected faith. When you have faith then everything happens for a reason. It has a more hopeful outlook than merely chance. I think I would describe myself as a woman of faith but like everything it is all a practice. In current society that brings about many challenges.

‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

For those new to reading my blog thank you for reading. I am, to use the labels, wife to the sculptor Sam Shendi. I write about the sculptures, art and day to day life with an artist and as the mother of two active and growing boys. I am seemingly, a calm, balanced regal pineapple!

You can also follow me on instagram @thesculptorswife.

 

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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

 

Celebrating this time of year with sculpture

Exhibitions, Galleries, Mother and Child, Old Masters

Relief. I didn’t make use of the fact it is also a sculptural term. It doesn’t stop though does it. Relief comes and then it’s back to it, there is no rest. The sculptor was back up again in the early hours to load the van and make the journey down to London. This time for an exhibition at The Royal College of Art. ‘Royal’ somehow makes everything sound more prestigious. We shall find out.

lullaby

‘The Seed’ by Sam Shendi

He is exhibiting new work which is an exciting theme and style. It harps back to work he made after university. More curvaceous, softer and less abstracted. It echos work of the 1900’s figurative sculpture but with a contemporary modern coating of colour. The germination of many ideas.

The pieces are to be exhibited alongside a huge range of artists in a large group show entitled ‘Flux’ which he has been involved with before. With two previews and various meetings alongside it’s another few days stay away and so I’m back in charge of the business and this time in-amongst nativity and carol concerts, festive songs and lullabies. Someone recently made a comment that these pieces reminded them of Mary (Mariam), mother of Jesus. There is no religious connotations to these pieces but it is interesting what it brings out in people.

seed

‘Lullaby’ by Sam Shendi

At a time when the focus of the Christmas story gets lost in the chaos of consumerism, commercials and Claus I am trying to speak with the boys about the similarities and differences between faiths. What this time of year is really about and why. The other evening whilst having bedtime stories we were talking about the importance of Mariam, a righteous and honourable woman and an example and sign for all people. My eldest always surprising me, pointed out that we are all one family really, we are all brothers and sisters in humanity. Those were his words. How those innocent, heartwarming and important child-uttered wisdom’s get buried as we grow up and start looking at differences and divisions.

breast

‘Bedtime Stories’ by Sam Shendi

alert

‘Alert’ by Sam Shendi

The sculptors work encourages these ideas of sameness and humanity. We all have a body in which we house our emotions and we share those same responses of anger, doubt, envy, fear, sadness, joy, love, hope. So at this time of year; for those enjoying the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals, or celebrating festivals of light, or just because of the tradition of having up a stocking or those focusing on the birth of Jesus or the birth of a newborn in the family, finding out your pregnant, or for those mourning a loss, finding this time of year a challenge as we move through this season into a new Gregorian year let us remember the focus of family and unity and join together and transition in the emotions of hope and peace.

flux

The Reality

Colour, Exhibitions, Mother and Child, Public Art, Relationships, Soul searching

In a world where we have ‘reality’ TV shows, cyber worlds in which we can make our lives appear very different to the day-to-day routines and constant ‘updates’ of people’s daily realities, I thought it appropriate to look at ‘what is real’.

It is a week ago since we were heading down on the train for the preview. I consciously decided to write ‘The review’ almost not as ‘The sculptor’s wife’ but as someone else who had, had the luxury of being able to glide around the exhibition unhindered by children in their ‘mad hour’. I wanted not to taint my husband’s proud moment with my reality.

The journey started with my husband’s realisation that he had left his jacket at home, the one he had dry cleaned and planned to wear – outfit all imagined of course. Not a good start. One stressed artist in a confined space with two excited boys. Anyway, the food and books  prepared kept them busy. I let it all wash over me and stayed calm. We got to the hotel, changed and met family to enjoy a meal at a Lebanese restaurant around the corner. The boys had gone into hyper mode. I think I became a bit dazed by the sudden thrust into central London life and I was unable to eat much of the yummy food on offer. The walk to the Royal British Sculpture Society offered a moment to savour the atmosphere but as we gathered outside and met with friends it dawned on me that the space inside may not handle all our contrasting energies. Inside, I managed a few snatched conversations and introductions with people I wanted to speak with but overly aware of my youngest hurtling around. As I reflect, I recall an almost cat and mouse game of chase around one of the exhibitions. No wonder someone came out making a comment about not wanting to meet the children inside at a restaurant.Whoops. Half prepared, I dug out folded pieces of paper and crayons I had brought with me with visions of calmly occupied children sketching. Mmm… perhaps if it had been 10.30 in the morning that would have worked. Whilst the speeches were underway the boys bounced off the steps outside, my sister anxiously wondering who was with them as we were tightly compact with no way of assuring their safety. However, they were with a friend and relatively content. My husband was whipped away to speak with a potential client and with my eldest becoming somewhat overwhelmed with tiredness and emotion I took us back to the hotel thankful that it was just around the corner.

passion for freedom

‘The Toy’ exhibiting in Embassy Tea Rooms ‘Passion for Freedom’

Alongside all this my husband also had to organise in the middle of the night the journey of ‘The Toy’ coming down to ‘Passion for Freedom’ which had to change their venue at the last-minute. This meant that the day after whilst he ran across London to meet with the van and deliver it. I took the boys to a museum round the corner with a phone that no longer had any battery. The reality of being out of mobile phone contact when needing to liaise meeting up made for good problem solving skills to come into play. In all, it was an exciting trip and the buzz of it was amazing but good to reflect a week on and put some perspective and ‘reality’ to it. Sometimes we so often see the duck gracefully swimming that we forget the ferocious paddling underneath.

This morning, my boys were playing an imaginary game and I suddenly tapped into their reality and seized the moment to connect their reality with mine. I wish I could do this more often. The three-headed monster (the light in their bedroom) who was a potential threat assisted me by becoming the reason to armour up into school uniform. Hats for helmets, space boots and then our rocket ship journey to school was a more peaceful one than previous mornings.

We chain ourselves to things that make us act, behave, see, respond in a certain way. Our possessions, the people around us are all given to test us for what is real. This piece below is the one ‘nestled in the fireplace’ in the exhibition. ‘Cruelty: This work confronts the parent/child relationship and questions our imposition of moral and social systems which conflict with our own inner truth.’

As with this life, it may seem like the reality but sometimes we need to stand back and look beyond the illusory pleasures of this temporary world and ask ourselves what is real?

'Cruelty'

‘Cruelty’

 

Change

Colour, Conceptual, Soul searching

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’.

untitled

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.

Transmission

Colour, Making, Public Art, Soul searching, Steel

Finally after several months of making and writing I can publicise the maquette for the FIRST@108 PUBLIC ART AWARD under the theme of transmission. Last night saw the preview and opening of a three-month exhibition for the five finalist. This is my husband’s piece titled; ‘Evolution’

SONY DSC

‘Evolution’

Description of concept

This sculpture is under the name of ‘Evolution’, showing the development of the changes to our body caused by the powerful effect of life’s energy transmission inside us. My idea is presented by 7 individual sculptures, each piece representing a minimalistic shape of the human figure in seven different stages of life.

Each piece is represented in an individual shape, height and colour, enabling the viewer to separate every stage but still seeing the whole concept as one piece. As though it is a single wave depicting the energy within us, a wave of transmission.

The individual stages show the physically changes our body goes through in order to maintain or contain this energy. The 7 stages are: Infancy, Childhood, Teenage years, Adulthood, Maturity, Elderly and Death. These constructions will be made from steel, and by using high gloss colours makes the sculpture appear weightless but remains strong to withstand the elements.

drawing for RBS

‘Sketch of idea’

This sculpture will have a minimalistic contemporary and an architectural appeal to connect with the viewer and allow them to see the message behind the concept. It has a child friendly appeal to encourage appreciation from a wide range of viewers.

SONY DSC

‘image from last night’s preview’

This transmission within us doesn’t see culture, ethnicity, education, religion or any difference between us. It is within us regardless and we all share this mysterious transmission that is able to change us in a short period of time. Some of us are unaware of it; some of us take it for granted, some of us neglect it. This piece shows how powerful the energy which is transmitted through our life is and that our similarities are more inspiring than our differences.

SONY DSC

‘My husband at the Preview’

For more pictures of the evening take a look at  Sam Shendi Sculptor . Now we have to wait until March For the interview and to find out who wins the prize of making the maquette in full-scale for the forecourt at The Royal British Sculpture Society and a solo exhibition.  Of course I am totally biased in believing my husband should win but his idea is inspiring and I believe art should be inspirational. There is a deep message behind the work yet it is playful and appealing. Our eldest son understands it, loves it and people of all ages want to know to think which stage they are in. Yet beyond all that is the mysterious transmission itself. The energy that keeps us living.

Alone

Beautiful Bronze, Philosophy, Soul searching

'The Thinker'

This sculpture, from this angle looks like a Japanese mask. Warrior like. Powerful. Strong. Alone.

In 1997 I spent 6 months in Japan. It was the first time I left home and I was on the other side of the world. Although I made lots of friends and worked there, so was  settled in a routine, it was the first real experience of being alone. I definitely experienced loneliness rather than homesickness. On my days off work I would sometimes go to the local shrines or the ‘apple cafe’ to draw. I remember  on a walk up a mountain, and on resting, lying down on my back and seeing a circle made from the tall trees above me. Then watching a single swallow flying across the sky. Like a Haiku poem. I realised I was alone.

As a teenager, I do think I dwelled upon the world ‘alone’ being a lonely place. Now in adulthood, being literally on my own is almost a luxury. So when I do have the time to myself I relish it. I find strength in it. There is peace and contentment to be found in being with yourself. Which leads me to my next question, are we ever really alone?

Whether we are the only planet which inhabits life is one big question of being ‘alone’ or ‘not alone. For me, another more profound reason as to why I am not alone is my belief in God. We watched something last night that resonated with me. The idea that those who don’t believe in a higher being or struggle with the concept, need to have an absolute proof, a certainty that there is something ‘greater’, ‘a creator’. For myself, having had almost, a before and after experience. I feel that believing in something is not just simply a comfort, as it then brings up so many more struggles and challenges.

Yesterday, our eldest boy was having a conversation with a friend of ours.

 “Alien’s don’t exist” our boy said.

“How do you know? Asked the friend.

“Because in my dreams about space I don’t see any aliens”

I was amused and intrigued by this exchange. He had logically thought through, that if he didn’t see them (in his dreams) then they didn’t exist. Proof of children’s ever-changing states of mind, the number of drawings we have of aliens almost disproves his own argument. (I think he has seen them in his dreams!)

It made me think about the arguments:

Do we really need to see things clearly to know they exist?

Does finding comfort in the idea of a creator just stop us from thinking we are alone?

Or, do we struggle with the idea of being alone because when we are, we are forced to think more deeply about whether we really are?

Faith

Philosophy, Public Art, Soul searching

'Have a little Faith'

'Have a little Faith'

'Have a little Faith'

This  image is a small machete for a larger sculpture that will be publicly displayed outside a local church next month. The outline of this sculpture represents an eye, the idea that God’s eye is upon us all. The figure represents the individual human, positioned within the form of the eye as the pupil. Upon the heart of the figure the shape of the cross is hollow so light will appear through it. This represents the light needed in the heart to find God. Also, physically the light being the shiny spot in the eye which we all have. Therefore, from afar the sculpture will represent God, symbolized by the eye and by the fish and on closer inspection, the figure representing each and every one of us.

In developing a small machete for the sculpture the idea of a book mark was reached and then the realisation that the image could be a new modern-day religious icon. By creating this, everyone can share the sculpture  as my husband’s wish for each and everyone to ‘Have a little faith’. Please take a look at the website: http://www.havealittlefaith.co.uk  

I personally feel we are living in society where there is no longer a focal point about and around faith. In the UK there is a real mix of religions and beliefs and it is fantastic that people can practise their faith without judgement, criticism and freedom. That is how it should be but I do think that in general there are so many people unsure, undecided or just unbelieving. We live in a society which is far removed from the spiritual realm. Our focus on material and worldly concerns has become obsessive. 

On a clear , cloudless night if you look at the stars so far away, perhaps not even actually existing any longer do you not stop to wonder what is out there? How this was all created? Not forgetting that what you see isn’t actually all that is there. I remember, being fortunate to have been camping out in the Serengeti in Tanzania and seeing the night sky like I have never seen it before, the sky was littered with twinkling maps of stars. When I now put the milk bottles at the front door I look up at the sky to see what is being revealed at that time and remembering that there is actually so much more than what the eye can see.

For me my journey of faith has taken me on a road of discovery; new friendships, new countries and crossing boundaries and perceptions. It challenges me every day, inspires me to improve, allows me to remain content and thankful, gives me purpose and happiness. Al HamduAllah! Eid Mubarak.