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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The secret within the cityscape

Colour, Philosophy, Steel

In the summer my siblings and I went into Leeds for a meal. I think that was the last time I went into a city. Like a country mouse I gaze up at the towering architecture, navigate the crowds of people and stare at the lights. Slightly in awe but leaving with almost immense relief.

My sister lives in Sheffield and my brother in Sydney so I am the country bumpkin of the three. I spend my days at home in a rural village in Yorkshire, tootling or pottering about the country roads (although probably not quite at that leisurely pace) as I pick the boys up from school and take them to activities, always feel I am running late and working at our shop in a nearby small town.

I like the slower rhythm and the quiet that comes with country living. The sculptor likes this too but sometimes he wonders if his career as a sculptor may have had a different pace had we been in London. He spent 8 days in London in September and this next month (November) is there almost every weekend collecting pieces from various locations.

Perhaps, inspired by the city landscape but also a  progression on from the calligraphy collection, into a new movement of geometric three-dimensional-drawings this sculpture below is one in a pair of cityscapes.

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Cityscape II by Sam Shendi 2018

I love how the shadows also cast a unique city skyline. The interplay of the vertical and horizontal lines causes each slight degree of movement to create a different vision, so every angle produces a new piece of sculpture and a new projected shadow.

The geometric, angular and straight lines within this piece is very much like my experience of being in a city. Striking and bold, dominating and  deliberate. As well as feeling excited and mesmerised, I can often feel overwhelmed and slightly confused in a city space. This sculpture beautiful captures all of that and then hidden within a secret. As so often is the way in cities, some little gem or oasis of tranquility.

In the sculpture the hidden secret is this angle (below).

cityscape 3

Character-by-character-Mandarin-Chinese-learning-Mountain-is-written-as山-shān-1
This direction or position gives us this, very clearly the Chinese symbol of mountain. Within any landscape there are hidden treasures, places to uncover. Even within the landscape of art. Art is no longer the traditional forms of paintings and sculpture. Art is a vehicle of ideas and philosophy. A way of communication, visual storytelling and ultimately a way for us all to exercise our imagination.

Hidden Symbols

collections, Colour, Exhibitions, Galleries

I am sat with a hot black coffee and some jammy figs trying to resist the urge to pick up the book I am currently reading. The problem I have with reading is that it is incapacitating, I don’t want to do anything else. This week however I am solely in charge of our business and the boys as the sculptor is in London at the Saatchi gallery with a solo booth at Start Art Fair.

This is a tick off the bucket list, although not a complete solo show in the entire space which would be the next step.

The pieces look something again in a totally white space and the advice of ‘less is more’ definitely paid off.

start art pieces

Sam Shendi, Start Art Fair 2018, Saatchi gallery, London.

When we look at art I wonder if we always want a quick fix, we want it to makes sense to us, to understand what we are looking at. Photography, painting and sculpture in the past always portrayed some kind of reality even if colours were at odds with the world around us or angles and lines in wrong places.

Someone interestingly asked the question whether my husband used the golden ratio in his work. With artists who have natural talent the rules are somehow embedded within their psyche they have a sense of why and what looks right. They aren’t necessarily following rules by prescription.  What they see makes sense aesthetically and their way of seeing and thinking is different.

These particular pieces maybe seen by some, as abstract forms, colourful piping for the playground or an object to lock your bike to. Shape or space. For the journey of sculpture it is about a three-dimensional form, how to visualise something from every possible angle. What inspires the form for my husband is all rooted in the human figure. The outline or the line that one would sketch becomes manipulated to show a position or body movement. If you look at some of Henry Moore’s abstract piece they look like pieces of vertebrae, focused on mass and volume. If we were to take the outline of those shapes we have these Shendi pieces. The negative space which the colourful line creates could be the sculpture. Or the line itself the sculpture which simultaneously casts a shadow also creating meaning and symbols. Hence, the name of these pieces: Hidden Symbols.

From this angle, the sculpture on the left shows the infinity symbol which becomes a very different shape looking at it from a different angle, an example of how we can all have alternate view points. The sculpture on the right could be a graph, a symbol of communicating information visually.

It is a journey to abstraction based on reality. In a world where we are over stimulated with reality, in the era of social media and screens of visual reality we no longer need to see sculptures of human bodies literally.

Art can take us into new ways of seeing, expand our ideas and if we sit down long enough, make us think for ourselves and use our own imaginations again.

Little video of exhibition

Exhibitions

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

Egyptian

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.

Journeys

Making, Philosophy, Soul searching, Steel

…..And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Robert Frost poem ‘The road not taken’ has always been one of my favourites, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference could be an epithet of my husband’s and mine. It is starting to become clearer that the creative process is a journey. Not that we didn’t know that, but we are at point where we can reflect backwards and look forwards more. My husband’s work is truly evolving, progressing in a way which seems meant to be.

His work started in clay, because that was what we could afford and with space limitations, the scale we could manage. So his hands gave form to clay.

'image from one of my very first blog entries of the making process'

‘image from one of my very first blog entries of the making process’

clay work

‘Early Clay work’

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‘Mother & Child’, example of the focus on outline

He always talked to me about his attempts to produce an outline.  Distinctly remembering a co-student at university who was doing beautiful paintings but putting a black line around everything, when the tutor had commented that, that isn’t how we see things, the student replied back , it was how he saw things. Thus began my husband’s obsession with trying to create the black outline of a 3D object. Almost an annihilation of the body and form and a preoccupation of what makes it so. Theses paintings show the idea and the exploration of that a line gives.

painting outline

Mother and Child painting

painting outline 2

‘Black outline with colour’

My own personal spiritual journey mirrors that of the sculptural journey,  removing the focus on our body and form and seeking a deeper meaning and purpose to this life. So with the clay sculptures it was very much about the light and shadow and minimising the human form with curvature. With a little bit of expansion into wood, he developed a series of wooden forms with small figurines exploring the human condition but still looking at the idea of the outline that was being created. The more we strip away at our own personal desires and take away the superficial aims of money and materials, what are we here for?

‘Wood and figurine’

As a teenager my time working in a nursing home for the elderly gave me a stark reality that the time here is fleeting and that in old age we physically become a shadow of ourselves in youth. There must be a deeper meaning to it all. As we verge on the cusp of our spiritual retreat, precious days to focus on our hearts. Time to reassess, re-prioritize and recognize the most important things in our lives.  To understand what we are doing here. “Where, then, are you going?”

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‘at a crossroads’

With the meeting of a steel fabricator there was movement into a new medium, enabling the shape of the human figure to be minimised more. In almost a fusion of the clay work and the wooden work a new series was created. The light and shadow create the outline in much of this pyramidal and obelisk work.

Sculpture 41

‘Steel minimisation of the human form’

The addition of colour became a uniting tool for the journey of sculptures and enabled another layer of meaning to be visual presented. Emotions and ideas, the sculptures now in a state of consciously making us ask questions.

family tree

‘Family Tree’

‘Souls’ became the laconic title of the next body of work but in this case the souls of sculptures compressed into the minimal form. If our human body is like the clay then the soul is a distinct other entity within the human framework and has three states of existence, base desire, that which our bodies need to survive, secondly the soul in a state of consciousness when we start questioning and discerning and a final stage  where one is at peace and rest. The purification and development from the first to the third is a life long pursuit. A wrestling between each stage, a honing and a shaping of our inner reality.

Evolution and maquette

‘Evolution’ maquette and final piece

Stripping the figure right down to its most minimalistic form resulted in the ‘Evolution’ both in the title of this piece and the progression into a new theme of work. In keeping with the philosophy of our bodies being merely a vessel for the energy that makes us. What are we without our bodies. Taking away the matter, the material and focusing on what gives us shape.

Wedding d

‘Wedding Dress’ combination of minimal form and mannequin parts

The college effect of using steel and mannequin parts also another part of the journey that came about from the idea of mixing both realism and minimalism together. It can sometimes be a struggle, living in day-to-day reality whilst maintaining a connection with an unseen reality but the reward is endless.

‘The Smoker’ became a turning point for a new idea. Using car exhaust parts to form an idea, an outline.

smoker 1

‘smoker’

In nature there is no outline, all that is created is seen by what appears in front or behind. What is the reality of what we are seeing? We only see an edge because of the layers of things. So the line of the house I see outside the window is only visible because of the clouds behind it. In these images of new work not yet finished (so a sneak preview) the beginning of a new stage in the development of the sculptural journey can be seen. A new material enabled an exploration of ideas, in full circle a return to the initial curvature and idea of line . It redefines or explores further the idea of the outline, taking it to the next level in abandoning the matter within completely and focusing purely on the edge.

sketch and parts

‘Sketch and parts’

'Sketch and line'

‘Sketch and Line’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reflects the spiritual journey of focusing on our true self, the ethereal essence within us which ultimately outlasts the earthen vessel carrying us throughout this realm of our existence and onto the next. It is certainly a way of seeing the world, both as a sculptor and following a spiritual path, a gift I am eternally grateful for. In a fitting completion to this entry yesterday the sculptor discovered a new dimension to this new work which symbolically connects the two, but I shall leave that to write about once the sculpture is complete and our spiritual retreat which we are about to embark on has ended.

body movement

‘Body Movement’

‘Body Movement I’ outside casting a shadow

Fumare

Colour, Conceptual, Philosophy

I thought it was a bit ironic that the local paper had chosen this image alongside the strap line “Artists create work inspired by Tour”. When what immediately comes to mind is ‘A smoker’, meaning a person who partakes in smoking, and not probably partaking in riding around the dales on a bike, (or maybe some are I maybe being presumptuous).

This is a piece which is growing on me, as the more I discover about it and the more I have to think about it  in order to write; the more I understand the philosophy behind it. This is how it should be with art and life. Sometimes it makes sense, it appears to us clearly and we can go ‘yeah I get that’ other times it is more of a struggle we don’t understand or only later on does something reveal it’s deeper hidden meaning.

This piece is one solid colour rather than the usual mix of colours and so for me it is harder to connect with. ‘I just see red’ which is actually is why it is all red. So what is this piece about…the medium for this sculpture is a ‘collage’ of exhaust pipes and mannequin parts. This in itself highlighting the very issue the piece is speaking about. Those moments in life when we feel disappointment, frustration,and we can’t express it. Those moments when you get on your bike and ride around the dales to let off steam! Perhaps, indeed their is a link between this piece and riding your bike after all.

The modern world is gradually pushing us into a trap of not being able to say what we really mean or what we want. We live in a ‘democracy’ where ‘freedom of speech’ is apparently a tool for us all. Yet we are pushed by media and consumerism to think , act and behave in a certain way. We can’t always say for fear off being misunderstood, offending others, not being politically correct. For some people the toll of being on this treadmill makes them ‘fume’. The verb ‘Fume’ means both ‘to emit gas, vapour or smoke’ and also to feel, express or show anger, coming from  the Latin fumare ‘to smoke’.  ‘The smoker’ is  currently in a Saatchi online competition ,having being selected from 4,000 artists it is now in the top 30 semi final.  I will leave you with the images to have a think about it for yourself…..

smoker 1

‘Smoker’

 

'Smoker'

‘Smoker’ or should I re-title it ‘Fumare’