From Cocoon to Chrysalis. The Metamorphosis Collection

collections, Colour, Connections, Soul searching

Unintentionally I took a break from blogging in August. It strikes me that summer is a time for growth. For, the children physically, perhaps, for adults mentally. For me this summer I felt a strong need to work on self-development. I had heard that changes can happen when you turn the glorious age of 40, that shifts occur as though you are entering a new phase. I have a belief that things will fall into place for me within this decade. I didn’t realise it would be so marked.

I’ve also made a connection that my husband’s sculptural journey somehow mirrors my own life journey. So, when the boys were younger there was a heavy focus on ‘Mother and Child pieces‘, The ‘Giant collection’ when perhaps I was working through some post-natal shifts. The ‘Calligraphy collection’ as I started to outline my blog and with this latest collection during the summer months lots of links.

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly is a fascinating one and interestingly the boys love finding caterpillars and I love photographing butterflies. I think we all like seeing the positive result of change. This summer I have had time to reflect and do some work on my self, some self-realisation and feel, almost as if I am transitioning from a cocoon to the chrysalis. Meanwhile, the sculptor has been carving away at the ‘Metamorphosis collection’.

Matilda

‘Matilda’. The ‘Metapmorphis Collection’ by Sam Shendi

“Self-realisation is a strange term. You don’t actually realise your self.

If anything, you go away. The caterpillar enters a cocoon of meditation: A butterfly emerges, metamorphosis.” Frederick Lindemann

The Story begins with a very hungry caterpillar. The boys loved this book when they were little. I am totally that very hungry caterpillar and this is one of the aspects I am trying to evolve from! The next stage is spinning itself into a cocoon and within the protective casing radical transforms occurs. The Chrysalis is not a resting stage, a lot is happening. I think I am in that stage still and not yet quite the butterfly. It isn’t just about an external transformation, although I am working on that too. Trying to focus on active and healthy choices. It is the changes from within, re-working old habits, extending and expanding new thoughts and ideas. Shedding the layers physically and peeling away at the onion of our psychology.

“And so artistic creation is the metamorphosis of the external physical aspects of a thing into a self-sustaining spiritual reality.” Hans Hofmann

Victoria

“Victoria” from the ‘Metamorphosis Collection’. Sam Shendi 2019

I had some very liberating moments this summer and conversely some real trigger moments where I had some strong negative physical reactions to things which were happening. It is so important to navigate those trigger moments to understand what is happening in the sub-conscious and learning from them. To develop personal growth we need to acknowledge what we haven’t fully been willing to step into and where we are able to overcome those feelings. Like the caterpillar it is important to sacrifice who you are right now in order to see who you can become.

“I’d rather be this walking metamorphosis

than having that old formed opinion about everything.”  Raul Seixas

Anne

‘Anne’ part of the ‘Metamorphosis collection’. Sam Shendi 2019.

The butterfly isn’t necessarily the end result, just the start of the journey. One of discovery. Creativity. Exploration. Shapes of cocoons vary, yet there is something universally simplistic and beautiful about them. All the more intricate work happening within. As humans we have a tendency to focus on our exterior, our outer shell and leave our inner being under nourished. The work that goes on within us is transformative and the only real change we can make begins with ourselves.

I’ll write more about the sculptural concepts next time!

“It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: 

all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” Henry Miller

 

‘Shelter’, a new piece in the Motherhood collection

collections, Mother and Child, Relationships
Shelter 7

‘Shelter’ by Sam Shendi

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’.

Shelter 1

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.

Shelter 3

Shelter 8

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?

Shelter 9

Shelter 10

Art Swap: ‘Choose London’ for ‘Only Human’ featuring John Clare

Art Swap
IMG_4436

Choose London by John Clare

So the second of our Art Swap pieces by John Clare has been here a little while but after a little re shuffle we have it now hanging in our living room side by side to another piece which I will post later. The two together make a good combination and compliment each other nicely. Many people do choose to go to London, the pull of the bright lights the big city. My husband stayed in London when he first arrived in UK and quickly left. Only now returning for exhibitions or meetings. I went to London after University with the intention of Rowing. Fate intervened and I left after just short of a year. My sister lived there for 7 years.

IMG_4435

The piece hanging in our living room, by John Clare

This framed almost poster like piece came the furthest and survived the post. It appeals more to the three males in our household. I don’t know why skulls do that? The colours are great though and again a link with my husband’s sculpture. Bright, bold and vibrant. I am quite interested in the psychology of the artist and the piece itself. The Keyhole man we swapped it with was ‘Only Human’ which  like the last art exchange, seems an appropriate swap. Almost an answer to the question in Choose London?

'Only Human' by Sam Shendi

‘Only Human’ by Sam Shendi

Gratitude

Awards, Colour, Public Art, Soul searching

I have written about being thankful and having appreciation a little but I had a bit of an AHAA moment last week when I realised that it wasn’t patience I was lacking, although that is an ongoing struggle but what I needed to develop a better sense of is one of being grateful. We can be grateful for what we have but when we live in a society that encourages bigger, better and  more it gives us little time to focus about what we already have. Not only in terms of possessions but the miraculous facts that we wake up in the morning, that we can see, smell, taste, walk, smile. That we can be healthy, we have loved ones around us. Psychological studies have been done showing that gratitude is a key factor in happiness and that if you start to increase you levels of gratitude your base line level of happiness will rise. Nothing is permanent in this world, everything has an end. So it is important to be grateful for what we have when we have it.

“The Branch represents man with a deathly oily hue, pillaging the earth’s precious resources. A bird perches precariously on top of a woman’s outstretched toe creating a symbol of new life.” This piece, ‘The Branch’ has just returned from the solo exhibition at The Royal British Society of Sculptors, it is in some respects about what we take for granted from the earth’s resources.

Branch 4

‘The Branch’

Over the last few weeks my time spent at our business has made me appreciate the work my husband does. It’s very easy in the role of being at home with the children to bemoan the tasks involved and at not having a break but being in a different role makes me grateful for the time I have had at home with my children and also thankful that I haven’t had the stresses of work alongside it and the weight of running your own business. Although, I do have them indirectly. I am now a little more aware of why and how it affects my husband. Also increasingly impressed with how he manages both the business and the art world. I read recently that it often the way with highly creative people that they work very hard and intensely. I think that is definitely true. When we go through difficulties we can in some way relate our situation to something that may be more difficult and then be grateful. However, to be grateful in times when things aren’t as testing, when we are at ease. When you are  locked up in your own personal pleasures and enjoyment it is easy to forget the realities and fail to remember to be grateful.

Branch 3

‘The Branch’

‘From Donald Winnicott to the naughty step’

Colour, Connections, Exhibitions, Making, Mother and Child, Philosophy, Public Art, Soul searching, Steel

‘The mother, ready for paint’

'head in colour'

‘head in colour’

'in colour'

‘in colour’

'from the side'

‘from the side’

'The child'

‘The child’

'In colour'

‘In colour’

'Mother and child' ready for polishing

‘Mother and child’ ready for polishing

'Mother and child'

‘Mother and child’

'Mother an Child' in the studio

‘Mother an Child’ in the studio


‘From Donald Winnicott to the naughty step’ was broadcasting as I drove home last night from meeting up with a group of friends I hadn’t seen in a while. The night sky was still light so it was a lovely spring evening drive back and I found this fascinating and felt in total agreement with what was being discussed. “Seventy years ago the psychoanalyst and parenting expert Donald Winnicott first broadcast his idea of the ‘good-enough mother’; the mother who wasn’t perfect and was free, to some extent, to fail. From 1943-1962 he gave some 50 BBC broadcasts. Aimed directly at mothers, they had a profound impact on popular ideas about motherhood.”

In tandem I was thinking about writing about the progress that was being made for the pieces for the solo exhibition as part of the FIRST@108 award. Up until now I have mostly written about finished works and only occasionally  the process but actually now there is a need to document the process running up to the exhibition in October. The first piece for the solo exhibition is a reoccurring theme both in colour and subject, as are the discussions like the one I was hearing on the radio about;

Mother and Child

Winnicott’s ideas seemed to fit perfectly with this piece, “the idea of the body as important and needing to be taking seriously in bodily complaint but also the part the mind has to play in organising those or influencing them or producing them.” In the sculpture we see the mother in pink but if we look closer there is a subtle difference between the ‘body’ and the ‘mind’.  The mother is facing the child, the indicators of eyes from the tiny holes suggest visual contact. So important in seeing the child from a psychological point of view as well as a bodily and physiological one.

It is one of the reasons I find it so easy to write about the sculptures my husband makes, in that they visual pictorial observations of human society, the human condition. Winntcott observed and was alert to the tiny signals, observation and listening to mothers and he documented this. It was almost mesmerizing listening to his strange dictation played back and it connects so well with this sculpture.

He spoke of the child being separated from the mother, “you are always an isolate, by the time he is born he has had experience both pleasant and unpleasant” which is visualised in this sculpture. The baby separated visually, literally from the mother yet fitting like a puzzle into one shape.. I can see this but I also think in the first three years there is a slow physical and mental detachment from the mother in to the ‘world’. The child in this piece also looks like a step, the naughty step we so often here spoken of today. Winnicott tells mothers to trust their instincts and I think in general I do. In some ways it is the only thing I am fully impassioned and feel confident about. It irritates me when that is thrown off-balance. That can so easily happen in today’s society where we have all kinds of information and view points being bombarded at us. The questions are the same now as to the time he was speaking, and we seem to be in a constant battle between those very strict methods and ideology  a pose to more gentle approaches which I would class his as.

There are lots of mothers out there writing about motherhood and here are three I picked out of a bunch;

http://haywardhelen.wordpress.com/

http://studiomothers.com/

http://rhythmofthehome.com/

I do think we live in a society which down plays the importance of the role of the mother. We seem to focus on the wrong aspects. I would highly recommend listening to the programme and see what you think. Either way, it is one of those subjects which is going to be endlessly discussed and analysed. Some people write about it, some people analyse it and some people depict it. This one is to be polish and put aside ready for exhibition in October.

Self Actualisation

Beautiful Bronze, Colour, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching

I was listening to the radio whilst driving the other day and caught a snippet of discussion about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which was a visual map about what motivates people. It was said that if undergraduates of psychology recall anything they remember the pyramid diagram of the stage model of five motivational needs. I smiled because, indeed as my psychology degree lies somewhere hidden underneath the blankets of motherhood and I could visualise the pyramid and it’s five stages , well I could remember the first being food and shelter and the last being self actualisation, what ever that meant.

The radio programme went on to discuss that Maslow, only listed 18 people who had reached self actualisation, including Einstein and himself I think. When looking at the characteristics of self-actualizers to write this, I think my husband ticks most of the list. He is so unbelievably motivated. On the programme they discussed that Maslow’s conception was someone who had a “heightened sense of awareness and reality” or “completely absorbed in an activity and don’t know time passing”. I would say this is totally my husband and could give countless examples. The thinking is all about “Possibilities not restraints” and the possibilities of change and of the human being. 

There are so many flaws with Maslow’s theory especially if looking at artists. Van Gogh lived most his life in poverty and probably didn’t have the middle stages but arguments have said he was self actualised. However, I would perhaps argue Van Gogh wasn’t, he was exploring his creativity and pursuing inner talent but without the support of the base of the pyramidal needs he wasn’t able to reach self actualisation. My instinct is to think that in order to reach self actualisation you must have worked through the pyramidal needs. To have actually experienced what it is like to not have had. If we are from a privileged background where the basic needs of food and shelter are not tested and we become complacent that they are a given, then reaching our potential is hindered. The drive the ambition is not likely to be as great.

I am so unmotivated, far from being self actualised, however I do think in my role as ‘Sculptors wife’ could be classified totally as ‘helping others to achieve self s’. Which could put me at the peak of the pyramid in ‘Transcendence needs’  in the revised version and eight stage model. Not that it’s a competition or anything! Unfortunately that puts my whole theory on its head. I rather like the idea of being transcendent though I could get motivated about that 🙂

I have just trawled through my entries to see if I have put images of this piece up before. I was convinced I had but it wasn’t where I thought it was and looking very different in my past entry. It had a face lift after the fire, it is still bronze but somehow giving it this cover links with the ‘branding’ of my husband’s work. It sort of symbolises motivation. You do have to take that leap of faith and take the step forward in reaching your aims. I think Maslow would be happy with this;

big step 1

‘The Big Step Forward’

‘The Big Step Forward’

big step

‘The Big Step Forward’