Tiptoe, Tully and I .

collections, Mother and Child, Philosophy, Relationships

Last night as I stood at the sink washing up, I finally got an idea about my writing this week. Every six or seven weeks I go to the homeopath and initially it was for my eczema but it has helped unravel a whole lot more. Yesterday’s session peeled back another layer of the onion. The problem is, what ever ideas were flowing to me whilst I bathed the dishes in washing up liquid they are not quite streaming to me this morning as I write. I knew I should stop and write them down but the boys were bashing each other upstairs and I needed to get the pots cleared up so I could go and sort them out. The sculptor was at the studio, if you were wondering.

At bedtime, sometimes the sculptor (from a culture with a history and background of oratory) and also with his imagination tells stories from his head but more often that not it is I who reads to them every night. Except this week, I have used the consequence of their brotherly squabbles turning into tears, as a reason for them going to bed early. Which actually last night, I pondered is probably slightly counter productive, as I  think reading to them calms them down before bed. “I think left, I think right” (Dr Seuss). However, we have all been slightly under the weather so the thought of sitting in-between two snotty coughing boys was not so enticing.

This cheeky sculpture is now in Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer which opens May 12th.

tiptoe outdoors

Tiptoe, looking like a Dr Seuss creature exploring in the woods.

It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss character ‘Cat in the hat’ with the red and white stripes. I have loved reading his books to the boys and as much as they haven’t grown out of picture books, poetry and reading time, the boys put them in the pile to give away. It is hard passing on books but when you have limited space there are only so many books you can keep. I am trying not to discourage them  as they always put the strangest things on the discard pile and keep the little odd plastic bits! In our house this week it has felt a little bit like a Dr Seuss book. We have all got into the habit of speaking in rhyme the biggest culprit, well guess! Honestly it is a mad house. I think living with an artist it is bound to be.

Over the last two weeks I keep seeing the trailer for the movie Tully. It immediately resonated with me, as it will probably do for most mothers. But I also really felt, from the brief snippet of the film, that it portrayed my life over the last ten years. I hadn’t realised at the time but when our eldest was one years old we opened our own business and so my husband had to pour into that. So I guess I was home with the baby ( or in Egypt where I spent 2 months of my maternity leave).  This year marks our ten-year business-owning anniversary. Within that time though, we had two boys and I stopped any paid work, so my role has been one of pouring into them. Often, when we are within something we can’t see what is happening and I very easily forgot to re-fill myself. I have been learning about self-care over the last 18 months, a bit like when you are on an aeroplane, they tell you to put your own mask on first before your children. You can’t pour from an empty vessel. I have often looked at other mothers and wondered how they had so much energy and attention. My sleep deprivation definitely had an effect on all areas of my life. Even with the power of knowledge and hindsight ten years later, sleep deprive me for a night and I am not fit for much.

From what I gleaned from the trailer of the movie, a woman called Tully comes to care for the mother in the film, played by Charlize Theron, who still looks pretty good despite gaining 50 pounds for the role. I guess everyone needs a Tully to come and care for them. I think this is what we lack in the west now as we live and bring up our families in isolation. Perhaps, the African proverb , ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ has underlying wisdom. So, this past year I have sourced a kind-of care from several woman globally and I feel I am slowly coming back to the woman I was. The woman I am. Not the Sam I am (that’s the sculptor and Dr Seuss talking again).

We tiptoe around motherhood in so many ways. Although we may not be able to get a Tully in our lives ( I will have to see the film and probably should have before writing this post) but if you can then do. More importantly you can affect your own life with the story you are telling yourself. Stay positive, words are powerful and find your own inner Tully.

dr seuss

Links for woman needing any help rejuvenate themselves!

May 13-19thwoman’s health 

For un uncluttered life, become unstuck with Allie

Mother like a boss with Kendra

Get fit with Zehra at The Fit nest or Yoga with Adriene

If you are local and looking for a homeopath :

Emma Colley

or

https://wwwfindahomepath.org

Understanding other cultures (and sculptures)

collections, Connections, Egyptian, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching
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‘Defender’ 2017 Only Human Collection

This was the first piece the sculptor made in ‘The Only Human’ collection and I am writing about it last as we round-up this collection of work. At the moment a few of this collection are on display in London, until the end of August. (link)

If you have spent time within a different culture then you’ll know how sometimes somethings can seem baffling, unusual and can challenge your way of thinking. Alternatively there are experiences which can be preferable or that you may want to adopt. Either way a new or different culture can open us up to a new ways of seeing.

When I was younger I remember my Father, who is a teacher, doing a school assembly on the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant , it cleverly demonstrates how a person can have one way of seeing something very differently to another and it affecting their interpretation of that idea. Culture can be very much like that.

I was fortunate to spend time in Japan at the age of 18 which opened my eyes to sights, sounds, smells and tastes that were totally new to me. My first image of a lady walking a cat on a lead, wearing what looked like a surgical mask over her face was definitely a diary entry. Green tea that tasted bitter, bland tofu and miso fish was a first meal that made me wonder if I would survive my 6 months there, such a lover of food am I. This was also back in the days before we had any of these food flavours and products available in the UK. Now matcha lattes and ramen bowls are all on trend. My eldest even requested sushi for one of his school lunches! Japanese food in lots of small little bowls and chop sticks whilst siting on the floor was certainly something I fell in love with, along with the house design and contemplation of nature and tranquility.

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‘Madame Butterfly’ Calligraphy collection

On Saturday evening we went to see the Opera, Madame Butterfly, a Christmas gift from my parents.  My husband had already seen it before in Cairo which had inspired him to make the sculpture above, titled after the opera and a very different style and material to ‘Defender’. The Alhambra opera used shadows in the performance at at the weekend to depict some of the scenes. So I loved the connection between the set design and this piece.

The Japanese culture could be summed up in two words, honour and respect and this is very much what fuels the tragic ending of the opera. Japanese design and living is about capturing the beauty then discarding the rest.  ‘Madame Butterfly’, the sculpture from the Calligraphy collection (also a Japanese art form) nods to this etiquette in that it is displaying only what is essential in exploring outline rather than playing with form.

In contrast to ‘Madame Butterfly’, ‘Defender’ is all mass and form. It is interesting how seeing something from a different angle can influence how we look at something. Writer, Cherry Smyth when first viewing this piece describes; “In ‘Defender’ (2016) the buffed, open arms of the upright, stocky animal –human hybrid end in what could be black hooves. It tilts its head as if ready to take on anything that comes, and its stolid black and yellow torso is built to impress. For Shendi, the figure represents the ‘defender we all need from time to time.’ It could also suggest the super-ripped gym bodies we increasingly seek, that render the limbs less agile and flexible for the sake of a pose of durability.”

The sculptor didn’t make ‘Defender’ with Egypt in mind, but it was a consideration for placing in an outdoor area in Cairo at one point. The idea of needing a defender is fitting for Egypt and the contrast between these two sculptures is very much like the Japanese and Egyptian culture.

My next big culture experience was at 21 in Egypt, I cried at the airport in Cairo not wanting to leave at the end of my travels. This was way before I was to meet my own Egyptian Sculptor. Funny how fate intervenes. My heart planted a root unbeknown to me. But travelling for a few weeks through a country is not the same as being immersed in one. Although I have since been back several times and am now married to an Egyptian. Egypt is a complex one and certainly less ordered, neat and tidy than the Japanese. It’s almost antithetical in every way.

CLASH is an Egyptian film set in Cairo during the 2013 protests. It portrays the claustrophobic intimacy of a police vehicle where the viewer witnesses the intense heat, no water and over crowded conditions of the van. In many ways it parallels the country as a whole. The individuals in the van display kindness and anger within seconds. Emotions flare up in all directions and we see the injustice, senseless behaviour that is a country at war with itself as so are the people it is made up of. Perhaps, ‘Defender’ is for those moments like in the van, breaking down barriers, pushing past the intensity of the stiffling experience and the personalities which almost smother each other.

It’s hard to sum up Egypt in two words and that really says it all. It is a multitude of attacks on all the senses. Yet the exotic history, heat, passion and flare all give it a romanticism that entices you in. There is a saying once you have tasted the waters of the Nile you have to go back. Maybe, that is for the ‘foreigner’ but for the Egyptian, the corruption and disorder and preference for the outsider make it a very different reality.

Just like with these art works I could not choose which culture I prefer over the other. They both appeal to different sides of me. Perhaps two parts that reside in all of us. We can often choose to dig in our heels and defend what we first think to be our opinion about things. It’s often a good idea to check our thinking and question why we have that point of view.

Only then can we understand others but, not only that, we can understand ourselves.

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‘Defender’ side angle

 

 

Collateral Beauty

Mother and Child, Relationships, Soul searching
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“Memories of my lost child” 2016. Sam Shendi

I have been struggling to write about this piece mainly because I have no experience of losing a child; for which I am thankful for. Nevertheless, it is my greatest fear and in some kind of cathartic practise when I embarked on writing a piece of fiction two years ago (which amounted in a huge number of words now sat festering in my computer’s memory) I made my central theme the idea of losing a child. With the idea of finding some sort of peace and resolve afterwards. However, I still feel a fraud and so perhaps that is why I can’t finish it.

Recently we watched a film, which reminded me that there is no original thought and my idea had almost already been explored-so good at making excuses. The film didn’t get good reviews but I loved it.  The idea of time, death and love personified. That our children come through us (I think that idea was probably taken from Gibran : see below) and that when someone dies, “be sure to notice the collateral beauty.”

On Children –Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Something traumatic in loosing someone through death, especially when they are young may take a lifetime to understand if ever. The concept of the film though is that in that dark and unhappy place there was still love. The beauty is that love continues even after and through death. Death reminds us that we need to be present in every moment because we have no control over our last.

I started to think of other meanings for this piece of work, not just “The memory of my lost child” to death but loosing a child just for a moment. I have experienced that and it is scary enough. It is hard to stop all the fears and worries that flood the mind. It led me to thinking about when parents feel they have lost their child to something else or someone else or somewhere else and how in the mind of the parent they think they have ‘lost’ their child. The complexity of the parent-child relationship is that they are so dependant on you and at each stage you are aware of them “moving away” becoming more independent. As a parent the need may seem to disappear but  the role changes and continually shifts.

The inspiration for this piece for my husband was a strong awareness of the impact the death of his cousin had on his Uncle. The story is tragic and traumatic causing a ripple within the family. This piece is a dedication of that event in my husband’s life but one that resonates with so many for their own individual reason.

However ‘whole’ you might appear the loss means there is always part of you missing. You are missing someone and that has an effect on your whole being.

lost child shafow

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

Public Art

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

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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.

Age of waiting

Colour, Connections, Public Art

“You are back” my youngest son beamed on Saturday morning. Despite explaining to him several times what was happening, he still hadn’t quite grasped the concept that Mama and Baba were going out and coming back on Friday night. I guess it is that age where waiting and the concept of time haven’t quite formulated yet. I can’t believe that in his whole 4 years we haven’t done this before but anyway I had managed to get the sculptor out. The incentive of course was sculpture related.

'I think this looks like it was designed for Ironman'

‘I think this looks like it was designed for Ironman’

Sometime last year my husband had excitedly taken 4 sculptures down to Shepperton Studios to put them on set for the new MARVEL film. We weren’t allowed to advertise this but I am certain I wrote somewhere about how he nearly ran back, he was so excited. The whole experience of being on set, walking in amongst Ironman and Hulk’s lab was like being a kid in a candy store. Can’t seem to find it on any of last years post and I have done enough trawling. The other thing it made my husband realise was how far he had come, from a small village in Northern Egypt to a multi-million pound blockbuster movie set. I think something sunk in.

So after what seemed like an ‘age’ of waiting. We finally went to see Avengers: The Age of Ultron on Friday all ready to spot Shendi sculptures on set. As the film began my husband whispered “what’s your gut feeling, do you think they will be in”? To be honest I grimaced, I don’t think so. I had been so excited and told so many people despite my usual ability to secrecy that I felt we weren’t going to see anything. The film was so fast and the screen so dark I saw nothing. We left a little disappointed, both at the film and lack of sculpture spotting, without seeing the credits role.

Advertising it on his facebook page anyway, the sculptor got a response from a friend who went to see it saying they saw his name in the credits. Really??? I think they might be joking. I still can’t believe it, and there is no chance I am going back to the cinema. So now we will have to wait again till the DVD comes out and we can physically stop start and pause the screen to see possible geometric shapes in the background and freeze frame his name. Seeing is believing in this case though I think.

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