After several years of carving, crafting, working and whipping up huge sculptural stories, tonight in Johannesburg the opening of my husband solo show will showcase all that work in one space at Graham’s Fine Art Gallery (photos from the gallery)
The sculptor was amazed to see himself larger than life. ( I see this everyday!) but literally plastered all over the building.
A month at sea, a stay in the port and then the drive from Durban to Johannesburg to the gallery, the sculptures arrived not quite without hiccup.
A few damaged and the repair kit missing added to the drama. However, hoping today that has all been fixed. I haven’t heard any updates so praying that everything is going well.
So he spent an intense day unloading and setting up.
Yesterday, he had interviews.
Tonight the show will open. I am so excited all the way back home here in North Yorkshire and anticipating hearing all about it….find out more tomorrow.
Here is a sneak preview :
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.
The Sepia Woman
I’m not an octopus, I’ve said it a thousand times
yet I often have one wrapped around me, I should have read the signs
as I’m sinking, dragging, sagging to the ocean floor.
I’m not an oyster tethered to its rock
though Cancarian I embrace a shell on my back
I chance direction from this, to that
Oh to be in the ocean blue,
blue is something I seem to do
to wear, to feel, to dream
of that independent creature swimming serene,
not on the ocean bed, scuttling
shy solitary cuttlefish,
this elegant creature with remarkable eyes
masking emotions on its rides,
blending in with the world around
spraying black ink
With its dark moods, a sombre cloud
inky fish, this ink with which I write
and have now spilt, what a mess
I’m cross with myself but have to confess,
if it had been anyone else, how angry I’d have been
Yet, look now at what I have seen
the most beautiful free-flowing design has appeared,
So scrap all the rules and conformity
Patterns all rigid, perfection for normality
I’m messy, I’m inky, I’m free to be me
Now ink of sepia, you colour of brown
I wish you could photograph and capture my frown,
furrowed lines on my head, cross-examine
the state of the dye which has spread
brown, black and blue,
used with creative spontaneity through
for writing, drawing, thinking in hue,
for colours is where attraction will lay,
with colours for moods, they change, react
to any words which others say.
So I create, I move, I dance with abandon
because I’m not an oyster afraid of the sand,
with a walrus near by and a carpenter to hand,
I’m not an octopus, I’ve said it a thousand times
yet I often have one wrapped around me, I should have read the signs
I am the cuttlefish, the sepia woman
writer of verse and a poet of rhymes.
Overwhelmed, by seemingly everything at the moment is how I am feeling and yet I know I should be grateful that in so many ways my life is relatively straightforward. The summer holidays passed in a flash and whilst I was more mindful to enjoy the moments with the boys, I was still relieved some what to parcel them back to school this week. Although this gives me a little more time, the activities we are involved in and school work resuming seems it’s just one hectic life for another. I need to find my butterfly wings and aim for feeling less defeated.
The time with the boys has distracted and separated me from the world of art a little and I have missed a few scoops which occurred over the holidays with little time to blog. So here is one: We woke on August 3rd in the morning to receive several messages that my husband had coverage of his name and work on the morning breakfast show. His work got really good coverage and the weather reporter mentioned his name twice The reporter seemed to really like the butterflies and the colours of his work. Here is the best clip we got, doesn’t have it all but it was so exciting.
Defeated Butterflies in Doddington Hall, Lincoln. Coverage on BBC breakfast news.
Photo shoot today at the studio, so more new images to post and work to write about, once they’ve been uploaded and edited. The ‘Mother and Child’ collection is almost finished and ready for a fantastic exhibition coming up in December.
The journey of motherhood parallels life, it has its ups and downs, highs and lows. My two boys are diverging in their affections of me at present. My youngest is smothering in his kisses and cuddles and albeit, a natural charmer, he is still at the age where he loves me to the moon and back. My eldest has hit the point where when I say “I love you” there is no more, ‘to infinity and beyond’, but a muffled “Okay” in response. It feels to early but I think, as a Cancerian I will need to manage cutting the invisible umbilical cord step by step, although it never feels gentle. The changes are strange, it’s hard to imagine that my youngest will ever start to detach himself from me. Perhaps, he won’t it’s just the nature of their characters or the eldest/youngest child difference. Each stage of mothering has the joys and the challenges. It’s the summer holiday ‘joy’ a the moment. I am deliberately having a positive mindset. Of course, they will never be theses ages again and their infancy is starting to seem like a dream.
I am so excited about this exhibition, still a little while off but time increasingly seems to pass with speed. Not only is this relatively local to us, the space will set off each piece and seeing them all together in a glorious collection will be amazing. Took time to get this poster right but well worth it.
This is simply one of the most stunning pieces my husband has made, though I think that every time he finishes one.
In Maslow’s paper , ‘The Theory of Human Motivation” he proposed that healthy human beings have needs which he arranged in a hierarchy. Physiological and safety needs being at the bottom of the pyramid indicating more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs). If we think of those physiological and safety needs for a child as breathing, food and water, place to sleep, security of the family, health and place to live we might group that under a heading ‘Shelter’.
A mother’s first instinct is to bring her child to her chest, cover them and protect them from the world around. A shelter is a building that provides cover. Some mothers in the world are looking after children with no building or structure to protect their offspring. Mothers are the only shelter. The curvature of this piece is as though the mother is moving her body to be a physical shelter.
The way the lights and the shadows fall enhance the beauty of this piece but the almost crumpled position of the woman’s body displays her potential discomfort, the sacrifice and the perseverance to keep the babe protected.
Where we are more fortunate to have those essentials of a roof over our heads with warmth and food, we start to shelter our children from the reality of the world around us. How much should we do that? Can children become over protected so much so that they can’t function in society because it is too harsh a reality. These questions are starting to whirl round my mind as my eldest, I am observing, is starting to leave those years of innocent childhood behind him. How do we persevere the innocence and wonder of those formative years without restricting all that the world offers. Should we shelter our children from the inevitability of the environment we live in today?
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.