At the beginning of the year my husband took a trip to Johannesburg to check out a gallery there which was interested in his work. His trip turned into his usual adventure with tales to tell and amusing anecdotes to recount. Excitingly though he was really impressed by the space and what the gallery could deliver.
So began the next process of getting the sculptures ready and wrapped. Arranging meetings with the shipping company and which sculptures were going on the voyage. It was almost a huge relief when they left the studio revealing again space to start creating again.
The pieces looked like Christo’s work, wrapped and draped:
So I think a total of 24 sculptures and a sketch book to be framed and mounted were all at sea for the last month. Now the anticipation is of them arriving safely from Durban travelling to Graham’s Gallery in Johannesburg for a large solo exhibition titled, ‘Seasons’. This is including the collections, ‘Mother and Child’, The Giants and the collection of heads.
His work explores the human condition and the human form, paring the visible shape down to it’s most minimal to describe the body as a simply a vessel which houses a shared human experience.
‘Seasons’ is a word I have only recently come across, being used as a term to describe the period of time we are in, not only the climatic shift from Winter into Spring. I am in a shifting season I think to match the time of year. Especially in motherhood do we experience extreme and often changing seasons but anyone experiences different times in their life and approaches to those moment. There is always the potential for change.
It seams a little surreal that this month on May 25th it will be the opening to his large solo show. There is still quite a lot of preparation to do before then and the sculptor will have to fly out before hand to check out each pieces do any necessary repairs and set up the exhibition. It’s going to be amazing to see such a collection in a professional space all together.
Friday afternoon I took the boys out of school and headed down to Barnsley, it was busy on the roads but according to my phone we were in good time. The boys had snacks in the back but my youngest wasn’t happy with egg sandwiches as they would make him smell he grumbled. This is the boy who eats enough eggs to warrant me having a chicken farm. My eldest pointed out the sign for Barnsley but ‘no’ I said with trusty faith in my technology, we were coming off at the next junction. So we finally came off the motorway and into some traffic works and something didn’t feel quite right. So I pulled in at a garage and looked at my phone. Somehow, and I have no idea how this happened I was heading to the wrong postcode. Fortunately still in the Barnsley area but I had over shot and we were much further south than we needed to be. So I had to turnaround and head back 20 min north with only 5 minutes until opening time. My eldest who usually joins in with my panic with sound effects was surprisingly ultra supportive in my panic. Reminding me that it was all ok, that we were all ok and we would still get there. That everything was going to be alright. It was a good little test for me. I knew we didn’t need to get there at 4pm on the dot but I do like to get to places on time and it was frustrating. Trying to keep calm I reminded myself to think that for whatever reason we had been sent on a little extended tour getting frazzled wasn’t going to help. It was getting darker, and busier driving into the one way system of the town centre so my tension did increase a little. We found parking easily enough and found the gallery. Only 15 min late.phew and not overly stressed. So by the time I walked in I really needed a moment to compose myself as I then faced this:
It was amazing to see the projection of the video, the black and white photos of the process, and into a space with all 10 glorious sculptures together, with clean white walls and fantastic lighting to set them off. The boys took pictures and their sketchbook around, our youngest a little more keen than the eldest unusually so. The eldest appearing to showing small signs of transforming into a little teenager.
There were just enough people there for the private view to make it intimate and for us to talk to the people who had made the effort to come along. The Civic has some lovely interactive activities for children if you can make it whilst the show is running. We have already seen a few more press articles and photographs which are stunning, more of which you can see on The Sculptor’s Wife Facebook page. or this one below is good, if you have managed to stay off the world of Facebook.
I love the idea of transformation. We all have the ability to change. I think winter is the time to prepare for transformation. This morning the scenery on my way to the shop was stunning. The trees in their bare winter glory stood like silhouettes against a hazy, sleepy, wintry landscape of greys and blues with a bright sun lighting up the valley making it twinkle. The land retreats into a cold crisp coating. We can retreat to contemplate the year past and marinate in stillness on how we deal with things in the moment. So, we can be calmer and focused in those times of stress and panic be it small or big, when you get lost on the road or in life. Using that stillness to have the ability to see beyond the discomfort of the moment and know that ultimately everything is going to be alright.
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.
Today the sculptor has gone for a little look at Barnsley Civic. So, I am ‘dog’ watching and ‘shop’ sitting – I say that with hesitancy as I am still catching up with the idea of both these endeavours. Slightly more confident in dealing with customers wanting a kitchen than the puppy training at present. For the first five minutes, I thought it was going to my usual madness, as he started chewing the pee-pad and gnawing on the boxes and the postman opened the door and he almost escaped. But a bit of a tug-of war with his rope toy calmed him down and he’s been sleeping since and I have been reading and writing making me feel more adept at business and dog owner responsibilities. I am just on alert that if the door opens he doesn’t dash out. Hence his name.
I read today that they have selected the four artists for the Hepworth prize. I feel slightly disgruntled that my husband is not one of them but bearing in mind this is not like the Turner prize, as they like to point out, you can be over 50 and indeed two of the nominees are in their 70’s. There is hope for the future yet and perhaps by 2018 (my husband will still be in his 40’s) we will have ticked a few more boxes for whatever it is they are looking for. Although, the other two are much younger, it’s an interesting range of ages not so sure about the art work ‘sculpture’ definitely has some interesting definitions these days.
Lots of new work is being created in the studio and a large body of work coming together under the theme ‘Blues in Motherhood’. Glossy pictures not yet ready of this one, so here is a sneak preview of the largest piece so far in this collection standing at 280cm high. The title of the piece appropriate as a few things recently I have been unsure as to whether to announce or not. Will write more on this piece when the photos are ready.
This trip to Barnsley may even be one of those things that helps along the path to recognition in the art world. For some people Barnsley might not be an art capital but the space seems pretty impressive and it is right in the middle of the sculpture triangle; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Hepworth Wakefield and Henry Moore Institute, so hopefully it is a good start. The aim is that we may have a solo exhibition of Mother and Child sculptures by the end of the year.
For the first time I am unsure what to title my ‘post.’ I often finish writing and it becomes clear but ‘Barnsley and Dash’ is all I could come with and reminds me of Dandelion and Burdock, state flower for Barnsley, apparently.
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.
Another London trip done and we now have more pieces in Hay Hill Gallery and also a very significant piece in the opening and lunch of a new gallery primarily focused on sculpture: The Hignall Gallery. Feels a very proud and important moment to have a piece alongside Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Peter Randell Page and many more. The launch for this new gallery opens this week.
This collection represents 10 children aged between four and nineteen. Either standing individually as sculptures alone or as a collective in one large sculpture.
In this concept the presentation is the human body as a vessel. Living in the 21 century we are now able to replace human parts, organs change our physical appearance but this doesn’t change the essence of who we are.
Our bodies are containers filled with emotions that have an impact on us. The colours used on these pieces are inspired by American minimalism in the 1900’s. They symbolize the emotion and the individual.
The sculptures are made from steel pipes used for building construction. The pipes sat in the studio staring at the sculptor and then the concept appeared. They were witnessing his actions. They are the human figure in the simplest form. Each piece has a name from the continents around the world, representing children who suffer directly or indirectly from the decisions and behaviour of adults. Which in turn affects them and their own experiences. What we witness or don’t witness in life shapes us and then make us who we are.
These columns are the bases of something, the foundations, pillars that hold up the building. Our children are the next generation, the future. What are they witnessing today?
The modern day is the witnessing of troubled times, but today specifically is a celebration of a legacy for millions around the world and a message for all of humanity.
“Witnesses” by Sam Shendi
There is a bite in the air, the season is changing. As my eldest son and I drove to swimming lessons the other night we spotted trees turning from their summer green into autumn shades. We saw a miraculous site of birds glistening in the sunset like pieces of glitter floating in one contained space. My son described them like ticks using his hands and saying it’s how Baba makes birds, he was transfixed. The shift from summer to autumn always feels more significant to me then any other season. It’s a reminder that all things fade away. We also had news this weekend of a family member in Egypt passed away. Deeply saddening, life changing news. But, there is always change. A kind of transportation, from one realm to another. Transformation.
“When change visits your life, you can be sure things are turning for the better. It may not look that way in the very moment change arrives, but if you will wait a while and have faith in the process, you will see that this is true.” (Taken from someone-lost the reference)
I have been thinking about this as my link to the transportation of sculptures. We’ve done so many trips to London (I write we but it’s the sculptor, the sculptures). I just sort out the congestion charges and ‘wo’-man the shop. Over the summer ‘we’ ventured into Europe with ‘a man with a van’ for exhibition in Germany. The sculptor flew out to meet them and then back out to pack them up. In a quick turn around ‘we’ then had pieces going to Paris.
I had a whimsical fantasies of going as well. In fact with this trip the sculptor didn’t go. We relied on the driver taking them to the gallery and the unload and unwrap happening without my husband. The exhibition opened last Friday. But really that is much more cost effective than having to fly out to meet the sculptures on the other side. It’s amazing how memories can take us to a place though. Thinking of Paris transports me to a time in my early twenties, still searching for myself. I took myself off with a black and white SLR and not enough warm clothing for a February weekend in Paris. Consequently the cold somehow lured me into a ‘Coiffeurs’ and I came out with my hair red.
Well as I reminisce, the reality of this trip was that the driver had problems finding the gallery so I had to practise my very rusty A-level French with a hotel reception staff which our gallery contact number went through to. I couldn’t ‘unlock the language’ and was a little disheartened, when he asked me if I preferred to speak English and he continued to speak in received pronunciation.
Yesterday the sculptor was down to London and back to take ‘Aphrodite’ to Passion of Freedom. At the end of the week he will be back down again for the opening and picking up other pieces to then go somewhere else. At the moment my husband is almost constantly on the road. I am loosing track as to where pieces are! The difficulty with sculpture is the cost and space of moving them from place to place. Transporting them.
There is something about the space that transforms the sculptures. Having space around them to be able to view from different angles makes all the difference to sculpture. Space, dimensions and time all have connections both in sculpture and thinking. Which links me nicely back to this autumn days which have come around so fast again. This year has past by me again making me reflect that I am still waiting for that moment of transformation. When I am totally in the present and not wishing away time or clock watching, waiting for the next milestone or event. I am definitely better at it than I was. The best of thinking is to reflect on creation ‘How am I’? Taking ourselves into account, especially when we don’t know what the future holds. If poetry, art, sculptures helps to give us those gentle remind us then it’s a useful vehicle. The chrysalises gradually transforms into the butterfly. Transporting us from one way of thinking to the next.
After installing ‘The Bench’ in London which was no easy feat, negotiating doorways, pathways and gravel paths it wasn’t without a bump or two. A small collection of work also had to be unwrapped, polished and placed inside the hotel which took a little longer than expected. So at 4.30 they quickly had to leave as they were due to be further along the river. Phoning to apologies for the delay they thought their next destination was only 1 hour away but that doesn’t factor in rush hour, London traffic and a small narrow bridge to get to Henley.
It was now 7pm and having only eaten a croissant in the morning, 5 hours sleep, travelling, lifting, polishing and positioning exhaustion was beginning to set in. Wrist band and security checks and HGV wagon to park they could then finally start placing work.
For me Henley is rowing, I raced there is 2001,spent a training camp so again the sculptures are following places of my past. My husband hadn’t realised how close to the river the pieces would be. So a good realisation that he had installed 4 pieces along the river Thames in one day. Also a couple of his sculptures are being exhibited with Hay Hill Gallery within the grounds.
The journey didn’t end there though. After finishing and packing up they left Henley at around 9pm. Still not having eaten and rather famished but with large van in tow it was difficult to park up and eat. Deciding to travel back up the M6 they would stop at a service station -why they didn’t just stop and eat I can’t really fathom, something to do with fighting the fast food principles so it ended up being 11pm when they finally ate a not partially pleasant sandwich. Then in an unfortunate turn of events the M6 had several diversions and a stop for a short nap to keep them going meant the sculptor finally got back to the house at 5.45am the following day. HUGE thanks to Anthony Hartley. So the night of no sleep was the day after, after all. Is that what all sculptors do? my husband is wondering. When do you get to a point where you have a team of people that take the work for you instead of being on the road yourself.
The Henley Festival : this weekend 8-13th July