How to read art: Understanding Sculpture Shakespeare, & Shendi.

Colour, Conceptual, Connections, Philosophy
section of the branch

Side view of ‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi

Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? …people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
— Pablo Picasso

One perspective of 'The Bow'

The Bow, Sam Shendi

Sometimes we try too hard to understand what art is and what the artist is trying to say. Any art form be it; music, singing, poetry, writing, painting, drawing and sculpture, dance and even sport (if you see can go as far as to see that as an art form) is an expression from the artist. The creator. It’s their voice.

section of mermaid

How, as someone trying to appreciate another’s voice, do we try to understand what someone else is trying to say? Like with any conversation, it is best to let go of any judgements, any preconceived ideas or opposition. Easier said than done when in a discussion or a debate.  However, in the case of art. The art form isn’t directly speaking back to you in any kind of altercation, so the ability to let go should be easier.

So, with the case of sculpture if you want to understand it, you can consider these following things:

 How does it make you feel?

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‘The Toy’

And any emotion can be relevant. See what comes up. Accept. Don’t try to force meaning or words. Relax and think about the sensations.

Does it evoke memories? Give you ideas, inspire you, does it open your imagination? Relax.

Shelter 2012 Sam Shendi

Let your eyes wander around it. This is why seeing sculpture, live in its three-dimensional form  is important and can help understanding. We can only appreciate or connect so much from an image.

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Look at the colours or lack of colour, how do the colours impact or affect you?

Consider  the materials and whether that makes you feel a certain way?

I saw recently on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park instagram page the quote, “Sculptures often explore the edges of objects and spaces, overlapping, puncturing or touching”. What about the shape, the form, the surface. Is it smooth, soft, sharp, curvy, does it cast shadows?

cropped-kiss1.jpgHow do you interact with the piece when you walk around it?

Take your time.

Does it speak to you?  What does that question mean to you?

‘Urgency’ 2012 Sam Shendi

Art is an experience.

It is about analysing your emotional response to it and the potential for the work to open your imagination and idea up into potential a higher plane.

We might look at a Van Gough, Monet or a Rembrandt, a Da Vinci or a Michelangelo and think that we can understand the painting and sculpture because it visually makes sense to us. But go beyond what you see. How does it make you feel?

When I first saw the Mona Lisa, I was shocked by the size. When I wandered around Rothko’s large abstract paintings I was in awe. I’ve seen work that is brilliant, baffling and beguiling.

Often we don’t listen to a piece of music, whatever genre and try to understand it. Art appreciation seems a little harder, a little more perplexing. Why?

ripe 2In both there is composition, creating a scene, a mood, a form of expression.

My husband would say that it isn’t about ‘understanding’.  He thinks that unfortunately what is happening now is a generation of people who are driven by materialism and money and are spending too much time thinking about what to create and it that so much of art has become an object or a product. True artists should be simply driven by the desire to express their imagination. He says for example, “if you look at a Dali painting, what he has done is capture his imagination and introduces it to us. We have the opportunity to see inside Dali’s head”.

I went to see Othello with a very good friend of mine. The performance was modern, minimal and had a very shocking scene in the middle of it, which we were not sure needed to be there. Perhaps, we were seeing something that was inside the director’s head…eek! However, what was very noticeable to us both was that because we had studied it for one of our A-level texts we could understand it ( to a certain degree). Where as, we mused that had we not, much of it would have gone over our heads. Watching this Shakespeare performance 20 years after first reading it, seeing it, analysing and taking it apart made me realise that it is important to learn about an art form. If you do want to understand it to a higher level then it is about deconstructing it and putting it back together.

Living with an artist, a sculptor has enabled me perhaps to deconstruct my own way of thinking and put it back together. I wonder if that is essentially what marriage is asking you to do, when you live in a shared space and choose to share your life with someone different from yourself. Communication is so important.

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.

We listen to reply.”

Susan Stiffelman.

The same in art, we look to form an opinion, we don’t look to observe and learn. In Othello, we are shown how character and emotion plays a vital role in understanding ourselves and others and how the dangers of not harnessing those emotions can them can have. We can either analyse and learn from it or put up a barrier in opening up our channels of understanding. So perhaps Picasso was right, we can’t explain art. We have to be open.

“Observe, accept, release, transform” Yung Pueblo.

looking up

 

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Shendi sculptures are ‘essentialism’

Making, Old Masters

When writing blurbs or bits and pieces for galleries, agents and articles we often describe my husband’s work as minimal, referencing the sixties minimalistic movement and stripping the human form down to the bare essentials.

In my own recent quest for minimising the home, trying to contain our family in a small northern English terrace house, I discovered Greg McKeown’s book “Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” Just a few pages in it dawned on me that, the way of the essentialist, is very much the way of the sculptor. ‘The relentless pursuit of less but better. It doesn’t mean occasionally giving a nod to the principle. It means pursuing it in a disciplined way”.

Originating from Aristotle, the term ‘essentialism’ is the idea that everything has an essential nature to it. Plato, too was one of the first essentialists, believing in the concept of ideal forms.

Our youngest has asked a few times, “Why don’t you do arms Baba”. The sculptor answers making the point that they aren’t necessary. I have heard him speak about how Egyptian sculpture lasted longer than Roman sculpture because there were no weak points. An almost ideal form that could remain. Roman sculpture today stands without arms because they have been lost to the elements where as the ancient Egyptians made no gaps between arm and torso. The Egyptians knew what was essential but also had a style that would remain in tact. It is in the taking away that more is added, and in this case time.

Not only does my husband sculpt in an essentialist way I feel he lives his life to that aim. He lives by design (pardon the pun)  perhaps it goes hand in hand, he is so ruthless in his pursuit of sculpting and because he is not yet a full-time artist his time has to be used to purposefully. He has a, “disciplined, systematic approach for determining where his highest point of contribution lies, and then his execution of these things appear to be almost effortless”. That effortlessness makes it easy to think that it is un-challenging or un-demanding and consequently, I become forgetful of how hard he works.

In this journey from realism to the minimal my husband’s work takes away all that is not essential to the story he is telling. “An Essentialist thinks almost everything is non-essential”. For the pieces are like three-dimensional stories in a very contemporary, minimal form. Play is an important part of our development because it doesn’t just help us to explore what is essential. It is essential in and of itself. My husband’s work is playful in the use of colour but also the shapes and themes which are provoked.

‘The essential life is living a life that really matters, a life lived without regret. If you have correctly identified what really matters, if you invest your tie and energy in it then it is difficult to regret the choice you make. You become proud of the life you have chosen to live.”

In short, I think Sam Shendi is up there as one living an essential life and consequently his master pieces mould into an art movement of Essentialism. Then of course I should say, it is essential that they are seen, that the work is viewed and appreciated by the many. This is what the sculptor is working so hard to achieve.

Starting the year with serenity

Uncategorized

I always feel the December holidays are hibernation and a time for slowing down. I hit against it every year but this year was more resigning to it. However, 2017 has begun and already a week passed, time stops for no one.

It hasn’t been the best of starts to the year for one reason and another. Some trivial and some profound. Yet I am hopefully 2017 will be a good year.

Today the rain outside is relentless and as we drove to school this morning the eldest said it still felt dark. Here it is a gloomy dismal day and it though it doesn’t totally reflect my mood, there is a stillness needed.

So I post some stunning images in black and white, sombre and shadows and think about serenity.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr

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‘Hammer head’ in progress at the studio (2016)

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An interview with…

Publications

 

…the art book guy, please find the original on link below and body of text in post. Not sure how to do this a better way.

http://artbookguy.com/sam-shendi-body-as-vessel_1173.html

the sculptor

SAM SHENDI: BODY AS VESSEL
Sam Shendi is a brilliant sculptor who lives in the English countryside. Even though he resides in England which is rich in tradition, his work http://www.samshendi.co.uk/ is really a fun and fresh reinvention of his neoclassical training. In short, his work rocks. Take a look and enjoy our cool chat too …

“… As an artist, I am not searching for fame … I am not made for the contemporary art world. I am an artist for the people. It is important for me that my work lasts with people for the value of beauty instead of shock value …”

MICHAEL: Sam, I’m delighted to be chatting with you. Your work is so inventive and fun. First off, how did you get the idea to create this type of sculpture as opposed to traditional, neoclassical works?

SAM: Hi Michael, Thank you for the interview and my answer to the first question is – I think it’s a natural order. I was classically trained at University; we thoroughly studied the figure and human anatomy. After graduation, I tried to find my style and the purpose behind my sculptures. Moving from realism slowly over the past few years has made me see the human body as a vessel, not just as muscles, bones and skin, but beyond that. Since 2008, I started to experiment with focusing on the idea of the vessel and with less figurative details. What I achieve now is a combination of my background in classical sculptures and my point of view and philosophy towards my sculptures.

MICHAEL: Your work really centers on three elements for me: Form, color and delight. Let’s work our way through these. Which comes first in your mind? Form, color or delight?

SAM: Form is really important for me. Colour is an element I use to describe the emotion within the piece. For all of my sculptures, it is necessary to engage with the public beyond our differences in colour, education, class or even religion. So it is important for me to use my sculptures in a way that allows the majority of the people to connect to my sculpture and I think beauty in form and harmony in colours somehow brightens your soul. I guess this is what you are calling delight.

MICHAEL: Yes indeed. I notice that a good bit of your work seems shiny like a new car. It’s very contemporary. Is this part of your effort to appeal to people or is the shine part of the narrative of your works?

SAM: When I created my first collection, there were no colours, just bare stainless steel. Then I experimented with different types of paint. I felt every colour I experimented with didn’t give the satisfaction of the concept. That’s until I started to use wet paint with high gloss. This technique takes more work, but the result is always impressive to the viewer, especially since it has been done by hand. The high-gloss colour is as though I am adding life to my still sculptures. Without it, for me, it’s an object. The high gloss, the shine and the vibrancy of the colour for me, I feel as though they come alive.

MICHAEL: You know, we’re living during a time when people expect objects to do more than just “sit there.” They want things to move on their own or light up or make sounds. Do you feel pressure to make your sculptures more than just glossy, inanimate objects? Or is sculpture more about making people stand still and be in the moment?

SAM: To be totally honest, I don’t feel pressure of any kind. I create because I can. I don’t create for money, for pleasure or for the viewer even. Think of me like somebody writing a diary. Not for somebody to read it. But someone who writes well can make his diary become a sellable book even if that wasn’t the intention. I create because my ideas need to come out. I create because it reflects and records my own experience. The colour is not the main subject.

Sometimes, I paint the same sculpture a few times and I don’t know why. It’s a gut feeling. When I create something, it’s a feeling that fills me with satisfaction and I stick to that. Not what I think the people will be attracted to. I do think the high gloss is a signature of my work, but not just the colour, the paint but the high-quality finish overall. It’s used in a calculated way, but not with the intention to attract. I only think about the colour after the form is created, the colour is the completion. I am not using the colour to turn the heads of the viewer, but I deliberately select the colour because I can’t see it any other way.

People notice that the colour on my sculpture is not just an attraction, they can tell that there is a reason – that each colour has been chosen carefully for that location. I think this is what makes my work different from other sculptors who use colour.

MICHAEL: When did you first become aware of yourself as an artist? Do you come from an artistic family?

SAM: Since a young age, I was known to my family and the school by the high level of creativity I had. As a child, really you don’t know what being an artist is, but I was aware of the level of talent I had compared to others. Going to art school, I was planning to learn about art, but I never thought I would be an artist. Only recently, maybe in the last ten years, I found myself more involved in my practice. Suddenly, your memories start to make sense, from the past until now. I haven’t chosen to be an artist, but I have been chosen somehow.

MICHAEL: I understand.

SAM: I remember when I was younger being surrounded by paintings, flowers and birds. My dad painted them and he considered fine art, but I think in his time it was more important to secure a job and the talent faded with less practice and now he can’t paint anymore.

MICHAEL: So many people have artistic talent that they ignore and then find again later in life. How do you actually access or harness your talent? Do you meditate? Do you plan, write or sketch before you start something new? What’s your process?

SAM: Of course, many of us have an artistic talent, but being an artist is when the talent takes over your life and becomes the way of living. Nobody tells you that you are an artist, but sooner or later everything you see or you touch or that you think about is somehow different from the majority surrounding you.

I don’t need to harness my talent. Combining the vision and imagination that I have, there are no words which can describe what it is. I feel like I am a fish in an ocean, endless amounts of imagination to explore and so freely I can swim through it. Sometimes I sketch an idea, but the majority of the time, I start a sculpture without sketches – like my recent collection. Over the last 12 months, I have made 10 sculptures – none of which started by a sketch. They are all spontaneous, like the sculpture has been there in the medium I am using, I am just freeing it, releasing it if you like, from the material I am using.

MICHAEL: I love the way you play with the human form and pair it with other things. It’s really fresh and fun. What’s the inspiration behind this?

SAM: At the time of University, there were two main subjects I focused on during the five-year course: Realism and Architecture. A few years ago, I was affected by Minimalism and geometric design, but I always felt that it was empty of emotion. Perhaps I connected with it visually, but not emotionally. In this particular collection you are asking about, I tried to combine two movements together, marrying architectural and minimalistic design with realistic human parts. It’s really important for combining these two movements together that there is harmony between the two objects that you use. I think I’m trying to combine old and new with a futuristic and contemporary visual. There are endless ideas that can come from this.

MICHAEL: Your work is indeed very architectural. Aren’t you in London? How does the architecture there inspire you?

SAM: I don’t live in London. I live in the north of England in the Yorkshire Dales, surrounded by green fields and hills. Houses go back 200 even 600 years old. Architecture for me is the harmony between vertical and horizontal. I’m more fascinated by the contemporary modern design of architecture which isn’t what I see on a daily basis. So the architecture isn’t what inspires me. It’s the person who made it and his vision.

MICHAEL: Sam, most poor and middle class people don’t buy art. Are there enough well-to-do people out there buying sculpture? Most people don’t have the physical space for sculpture, let alone the money. What can we do to make sculpture more accessible and affordable to everyone?

SAM: Looking to the past, art has always been not affordable for everyone. This is why having museums and art galleries allow the majority of people to engage with art. I don’t create thinking about how much I can get for my sculpture or which collector will get my piece. I consider myself a public artist/sculptor and I work toward my work being in public places for everyone to enjoy and more people can see it. Instead of an individual that has a piece as a part of the interior design of a house, hence I create large pieces, not thinking about the constriction of where the piece will be located afterward.

If you speak about commercial art, nearly every house in this world, even the poorest will have some sort of artistic object within it as part of the house furniture. Art that has changed the face of humanity, that’s been on display in museums and that’s part of history – this is the type of art that can’t and shouldn’t be affordable for anybody. It’s educational. It should be exposed to everybody beyond class or education.

MICHAEL: Very interesting. Lots of people are suspicious of contemporary art because they see things like gold-plated human waste and it’s called art. What do you think about this? Do people need to see other things as art or is art sometimes a scam?

SAM: You can’t blame the person who created this kind of art, but you can blame the society that praises it. At the end of the day, good, quality art will always be remembered by many. People need to understand that if you see human waste in a glass cube with dead fly on a white plinth in a museum, I will guarantee for you many people will talk about it. I am certain the museum wouldn’t put a piece without a philosophical background to it.

However, when you say “Art,” the first thing we think of should be beauty. But what we see now is the unlimited, unrestricted freedom of expression in our modern society. If you talk to the ordinary person in the street, one who has lost faith in contemporary art because everywhere he looks, he finds no emotion, no engagement and no depth, they still have an understanding of scale. If I bring two pieces of art works by two different artists together for a portrait for example, the viewer will always be able to tell who has the greater skill.

MICHAEL: Yes.

SAM: This tells you that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder when it comes to art, but that talent and skill are recognizable, built within us. This value which we are born with is not going to change.

Contemporary art is chosen by people in the art world. Art today is a reflection of everything around us. What is around us, hatred, war, greed, money, fame and I guess human waste. So perhaps it is a perfect way to present it.

My own opinion, if you are asking is … In 2006, I recognized that only un-formed art and shock value art are taking the art scene’s attention at the moment. As an artist, I am not searching for fame or to follow the contemporary art world to achieve something quick. I am not made for the contemporary art world. I am an artist for the people. It is important for me that my work lasts with people for the value of beauty instead of shock value. Since that day, I stopped going to museums, exhibitions or meeting other artists if I can help it, giving opinions or even reading books about art, because at the moment, there’s a new generation born that believes that a whistle and a fluorescent light are art.

MICHAEL: Wow. Very interesting. What is it about sculpture that makes people always want to touch it? I often want to touch the works I see, but obviously I never do. Needless to say, if everyone touches sculptural works, they’ll be destroyed in no time.

SAM: Sculpture because of the three-dimensional form, it’s the touch that enables you to recognize it, blindfolded, if that makes sense. Human beings are in need of touch, this is what makes the connection more than just visual. You can’t ask a child, why do you want to hug your dad? And I doubt that you would want to touch a sculpture that’s not visually appealing to you.

I don’t mind people touching my sculptures gently. If it disappeared over the years from that, I’d be happy that many people engaged with it. You need to understand that people make art valuable, not the art itself. Without people there is no art.

MICHAEL: Indeed.

SAM: Art work is not valuable to a true artist, the viewer is what is important, however the viewer does needs respect the art.

MICHAEL: Do you work every day? What’s a typical day like for you?

SAM: I work all the time! I am not a full-time artist. I work as a designer through the day which funds my sculptures. I work in the studio from the afternoon until early evening. This is my usual six days a week. On Sunday, I don’t work as a designer, but I’m in the studio from lunch time until late afternoon.

MICHAEL: Wow. What’s the difference between design and artistry? Of course, design is more about products, but what’s the difference for you?

SAM: Working as a designer, you are limited by the client’s wishes and the material you are using. Plus it’s a job, to earn money. In art, design is part of the process from imagining it to bringing it into fruition. However, when you think of art there are no boundaries, no limits and you don’t create it for money or for a client.

MICHAEL: What do you think about the contemporary art world and art market and how they function? Do you feel part of them or separate from them? Do you understand how they work?

SAM: When you use the phrase, “contemporary art world,” it’s exactly like using the phrases stock market and Wall Street. It’s a business. Collectors shape the movement of contemporary art and like any business, they sometimes succeed, sometimes they go bankrupt. The existence of this market and this world labeled “contemporary art” doesn’t exist and would never exist without artists.

I’m not part of anything. I’m part of my time and like any artist before me, you work, you get exposed, you get discovered and somehow they may speak of you in books etc., and then you are part of this contemporary art world. But a true artist creates for no more purpose than the idea of creativity and expressing themselves. This is the way that I live my life.
I don’t need to try to understand contemporary art, but I believe that every idea out there based on good presentation deserves respect whatever shape it takes.

MICHAEL: Finally Sam, what do you want people to take away when they’ve seen your work? Does your work have a message?

SAM: Every sculpture of mine has some sort of hidden message – more for adults than children. I don’t know really what I want people to take away from my work, but perhaps visual engagement or discovering the message within. I think the most important thing is that I need to be remembered in a way that I reflected the time that I lived in and to be an inspiration to others. My work is all inspired by people, I guess I want people to be able to see themselves in my work or maybe that they like it, but they don’t know why.

MICHAEL: Excellent. Thanks Sam. I think I see the secret messages in your works. Best wishes.

SAM: Thanks Michael for this opportunity.

Check out Sam Shendi at http://www.samshendi.co.uk/.

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Creativity, Imagination, Creation

Colour, Exhibitions, Mother and Child, Philosophy, Soul searching

 

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‘Annunciation’ by Sam Shendi

This month has been our ‘retreat’, cyber hibernation and other withdrawals to create time for spiritual concentration. This has not left much room for words. I posted on Monday images only, partly because I so many photographs there was not much more space for letters. Also, my whole being has slowed down and no words were appearing. I was having a blank.

On my morning walk wearing my ridiculously large ‘insect like’ sunglasses to keep out the pollen, the clouds really caught my attention. Somehow the lenses were acting like a contrast heighten button so the voluminous cotton wool like clouds looked even more impressive. I was thinking about cotton wool and how the pads you can get don’t have the same aptness for thinking of a cloud. The poetic line, ‘wander lonely as a cloud’, wandered into my mind, however the sky today was far from the image of a lonely cloud. It was a gathering for a cloud event, like a stack of candy floss before the opening of a fair. It’s magic when you can see the clouds making a shape of something. This made me think of the sculpture and his talent for making shapes out of things. He said recently that he has no imagination but a storage unit of ideas. In interviews he is often asked the question, ‘Where do you get inspiration from?’ Living with him I can verify that there seems to be an endless supply to ideas. I have never known him to have to think of an idea or to have to search or research for inspiration. He never has a blank. Creativity sits in his mind like the clouds over Yorkshire.

Clouds move, sometimes you can see it slowly, sometimes fast but it is a rare thing to have a cloudless sky over our little village on the edge of the valley. In all this cloud contemplation, I noticed to the left it was a smattering of shades of grey where as to my right it was a different scene, pure blue burst appeared in patches hinting at the suggestion of blue skies behind. If you showed someone who had never seen the sky before my view to my left they would be surprised if you said sky is blue. Sky seems even more rarely these days to be blue here in the North of England. We know that beyond the clouds is a vast expanse of ‘blue’ that we can’t see. In each of the ten sculptures for the ‘Mother and Child’ exhibition the sculptor has used blue. Colour is the key to my husband’s sculptures. They don’t merely serve an aesthetic or decorative quality, they are the meaning behind the piece. The colour is crucial to the philosophy as well as adding a lusory quality.

Colour does evoke feelings and emotions. Why does a blue sky make us feel happier than a grey and white one? We often think that are emotions are influenced by external factors when actually it is more often our thoughts that create our feelings. We are often clouded, pardon the pun, in our vision by what we see before us and are unaware of the unseen, the design behind it all. Again thinking of the sky at night, I love it when it is clear and we can see a few of the twinkling stars. But when I look upwards and see just those few stars, I remember when I had the opportunity to camp in the Serengeti, many moons ago and the awe and wonder at the littering of lights above which was a huge realisation as to how much we aren’t always able to see.

As I spend this time in spiritual practise I focus on how all these marvellous signs in nature indicate to me a creator. I am acutely aware that we don’t all share this view. We were, ‘made in tribes so that we may learn from one another’. We just don’t tend to focus on the learning and veer more towards the misunderstanding. There are so many paths up the mountain and everyone takes their own time and twists off the path. For some, their view-point may be a bit like the grey cloudy sky. They may be faced with a sheer rock face with no possible foot holes so the view of the mountain is obscured and to them non-existent. As with viewing the sculptures, behind what lies in front of us there is often a deeper meaning.

Practice and the art of freeing ourselves from possessions

Making, Philosophy

sculpture 9

Many people I spoke to in March had a miserable month. With the change of the clocks, lighter evenings and daffodils and lambs appearing perhaps April will bring a solution, a peace and a resolve. Listening to the radio the other day, the broadcaster said she had observed as she got older she was acutely more aware of the seasonal change. Perhaps there is truth in that, as we grow older we become more in-tune with natures cycles and the awareness that everything perishes and then there is life. I can’t fully remember what and why I was telling the boys the other day, that sometimes we have tests or difficulties and then we meet people who are having greater tests and we are reminded and humbled into realising our own blessings.

I feel that too at the moment. I feel March was a testing month. I am constantly being reminded that I need to develop greater patience and calm. I think part of my personal turbulence has been to do with sorting out boxes from the attic in an attempt to de-clutter and make more space. It is a strange process and looking back at letters in boxes from as far back as 1986 re-lives a little of your own personal history and also reading others stories from past. I have come to realise with my husband’s wisdom; that the past is the past and no need to be relived. Inspired by an American guy who has just totally reduced his possessions to 111 that he is carrying on his back. I am determined to reduce the amount of ‘just stuff’ I have. Although, I am still unsure how to get rid of much of my memorabilia. How much do our possessions take over us?

sculpture 5 sculpture 6 sculpture 8

 

 

 

 

 

I usually only post images of finished works, yet sometimes I think it is good to see the process. This also is such a different technique but shows the skill of my husband’s hands. When I first saw this piece I said, it reminds me of William Tell. Who is William Tell, my husband asked. I couldn’t remember just the story of the boy with the apples on his head. So I did a little research. He was the archer and the boy his son. He was asked to bow down to the leader of the area and he refused. So he was asked to shoot one of his arrows through an apple positioned on top of his son’s head. He successfully shot the apple. The leader noticing a second arrow asked what it was for. Tell, said if he had missed and killed his son the second arrow was for the leader. The swiss fable became a story of liberty and freedom.

Sculpture 3As I try to free myself from my attachment to letters and souvenirs, I wonder how much possessions actually weighs us down, literally and metaphorically, some how. In general as  a society we seem to attach more sentimentality to our things now more than some people do to other people.

My husband generally purchases more than I do but he never gets attached to it. Even his work. This masterful sculpture looks like it should be cast in bronze or marble. He started talking about colouring it in ways that match his current work. For example, the entire piece gloss black with just the top of the apple in red, or different coloured sections on the head…..

However, these images are not only the process but now the memory. The piece no longer exists. ‘How could you do that,?’ I asked my husband, as he showed me images of the head looking like a claw had swiped through it. ‘It only took me a couple of hours to make, it’s a practice. Not something to remain’. He is also a bit wary of making realistic portraits. It looks like days, months of work but it isn’t for my husband. He is fast and precise. Making something ‘real’ looking isn’t what his current practise is about. This was just to keep his hands in clay, just a process. Practising.

Sculpture 4

What is in a name, Shendi?

Making

 

isolated

‘Isolated’

Names and meanings. We name our art pieces with laconic titles. Brief, direct and to the point. I sometimes have an input in the naming of works but it often becomes a joke. Like, who thought of the name of our kitchen business ‘Arabesque’, I am pretty sure it was me. (In fact I think I have written that somewhere before). It was probably a whole elongated conversation but who actually thought of it gets a little lost. The same has since happened with art works, it becomes a discussion to get to the final single or double word for the most apt title, who names it in the end we don’t really know!

Naming of art work in the art world has become a whole subject in itself in recent years with works having extended titles giving chapter and verse about a piece.”Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, a Second Before Waking Up” by (Salvador) Dali is rather a long conflated one. Painter Debra Ramsey says: “I am now more aware, in our fast paced world, it’s safe to assume that the viewer expects at least some information right up front.. the title can lead the viewer into something, and can be used to broaden the “readership” of the work.”

'Cruelty'

‘Cruelty’

However, I think we’ve gone with the opposite idea. There is so much information today that the short succinct title makes the viewer able to consider it whilst focusing on the work itself. Letting the work speak for itself. On the other hand though when you hear my husband speak about his work or read about it, it does open up so much more and a deeper level of thinking about the subject. So I do see why more information about an art piece can sometimes be helpful.

head

‘Arion’

So to the name, ‘Shendi’. When my brother was still at school he somehow took the name ‘Shendi’ on and would always call my husband by it, “Now then Shendi” and some how coined it as his own nickname. There is something about it that could almost be a first name, like Jackson or Connor has become. So Friends have indeed started to call him, simply, Shendi.

However, Shendi  (Arabic: شندي) is a place, a town in northern Sudan, situated on the east bank of the Nile River 150 km northeast of Khartoum. Additionally, another town named Shendi in Ethiopia. So the fact that it is the name of a place also gives it a bit of weight. One day perhaps we may venture there. But whether our surname should actually be spelt ‘Shendi’ when we pronounce it sometimes more like’ Shindy’ could be a question. Although, when I say that out loud now I think it is more ‘Shen’ than ‘Shin’. Somehow Shendi looks better when you see the letters and the fact that Shindy means a noisy disturbance or lively party totally puts me off.

I decided to change my name only once the boys had been born and we were travelling. I had to change my passport anyway and it made sense and a lot easier to all be the same family name. Now, for school I have found this easier to be Mrs Shendi, but a lot of documentation is still in my maiden name which caused me great difficulty when I recently had to upgrade my phone. The whole female name change issue when getting married is an interesting one as in Egypt and many other middle eastern countries, a woman doesn’t change her name. I did consider this when getting married but because this tradition doesn’t apply here I would be Mrs ‘enter maiden name’ which would be the same as my mother and I thought that was really confusing.  I think it is interesting that the fact that woman in the middle east don’t take a man’s name when they marry, isn’t often known. Perhaps we should have more of a ‘Madame’ and ‘Mademoiselle’ system to specify age rather than marriage? I could happily have Mme and be ‘ME SHENDI’.

I jest and digress but  found this lovely appropriate quote, “Everyone you meet has a part to play in your story. And while some may take a chapter, others a paragraph, and most will be no more than scribbled notes in the margins, someday, you’ll meet someone who will become so integral to your life, you’ll put their name in the title.” –Beau Taplin.

This sums it up rather nicely for me, for who knows maybe one day ‘Shendi’ will be ranked along with Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet. We know them after all by their surnames not their first names. Even well-known artists today tend to be thought of  in Surnames, Hockney, Gormley, Hirst? Maybe, or less so? Another topic of discussion.

Anyway, I could quite easily imagine people asking have you have seen a ‘Shendi’? and they wouldn’t be meaning a lively party. So there’s no argument in the naming of my title or I guess the sculptor’s. Shendi will do nicely.

'The Bow'

‘The Bow’

 

 

 

 

‘Toy’ to a new home

Conceptual, Philosophy

Another blogger /writer, a mother, wrote about how she put all the children’s toys in black bin liner and hid them in the studio. She left just one or two toys out and if the child asked for something particular she resurrected it. She noticed however that her child was playing more imaginatively and productively. I quite regularly re-home toys in an effort to make more space especially in the boys shared room. They are sometimes good at giving things to charity. We recently split a large basket of animals into piles of which we would keep and ones we would give away. This was a little harder as the eldest loves animals, so some that were originally for charity crept back into the basket. I wish I could be as ruthless and bag everything up and start with a blank slate again, introducing just a few toys. Even I find it difficult though to let go, a hoarder by heart. I will pick something up and think ‘ah but they played so nicely with that last month!’ We attach ourselves to things unnecessarily. We place value on them to much.

Yesterday, on returning from the studio finishing off getting ‘The Toy’ ready my husband likened creating a sculpture to being a mother. I understood the analogy but I don’t agree (that’s the mother speaking). However, I totally understood that he felt a little saddened in saying goodbye to ‘The Toy’ which he is taking today to a new home. It was a piece that started on our kitchen table with ‘Blood, sweat and tears’. For this piece is in some ways so more than a sculpture, it is a concept, an idea, a philosophy. One day it would be fantastic to produce it in bronze. It is a piece which often produces a negative reaction. Unlike most of the other works it holds a dark, disturbing image but sometimes it is those harder to swallow ideas that have the strongest message.

This piece is different from the majority of the work but my husband couldn’t find any better way to present his thoughts. With these mediums and this design, it speaks about the 21st century, the society that we live in. The fact the most people work hard and yet don’t go anywhere, like a rocking horse. However long it rocks it stays in the same place. The skeleton is black to show the time that we are in, when fuel has become more important than human life or any living creature, think oil spills and images of birds and sea creatures coated in petrol. The horse-tail, is real horse hair represents the focus on our bodies, going to the gym, looking good, good diet etc. Similar to he technique for a horse race, constantly looked after, good diet, great exercise trained for the ‘race’. Wins only to make the owner very rich. We have become a ‘toy’ to our bosses, to our society and to our media. Played with and manipulated somehow. We believe that this is the normal life the life we are supposed to have. Work 9 till 5, 6 days a week, sleep 8 hours, have three-course meal and wish to live longer..when we could end up being in a nursing home, sitting down on a rocking chair thinking that you lived the life in full. This is an observation of the way our society has become obsessed with material aspects of life, of being in the spotlight not thinking beyond.

toy home

‘The Toy’ by Sam Shendi. 2012

 

Art can be aesthetically pleasing and beautiful but sometimes we need to stop and think and the ‘shock value’ in this piece is intended for that. ‘The Toy’ spent the last six months at Cartwright art Gallery and Museum being viewed by the public and we were given a copy of the fantastic and intriguing comments. Now it moves to a private collection. We have to let go.

(…..yes the’ Frozen’ lyric does spring to mind but immediately wipe it out your mind. I looked up synonyms but nothing else fit )

The yoga in art

Colour, Connections, Galleries
'Mother and Child'

‘Mother and Child’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: Sukhasana

 

…or the art in yoga, art of yoga, yoga of art? I can’t decide which is more appropriate.

yoga pose

‘Conversation with a bird’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: Paripurna Navasana

 

I have moments where I make discoveries, like little light bulb moments. Ones where you want to stand on the roof tops or a mountain and shout it out loud. Well, I say that but I can’t imagine myself doing that even if there was nobody watching. The point is something clicks and then you want that something to click for everyone else. You know those things are going to help transform you. However, I have also come to learn that you can’t make other people have that click, they too have to discover it for themselves. I guess that is what makes us all different and what works for some of us doesn’t for others.

art and yoga

‘The pommel horse’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: SvargaDvidasana

 

So using this blog as my mountain to shout from, my most recent discovery is yoga. It is helping me with a whole manner of things. Carving out time for myself everyday, exercise a little, focus on a better diet and helping me digest. It gives me balance. Balance in all things. The more we are able to physically balance our bodies and manage our breath it seems to give space to allow us to flow through the motions of everyday tasks with a greater ease.

stretch art

‘Discus’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose:Parivrtta Trikonasana

 

The pace of life is so fast these days that we need time to stop and connect to our breath, to be aware of what is happening around us rather than going through the motions mindlessly. Stretching out is something I realised I needed to do. We can focus on energizing ourselves and in turn this gives us more energy for others.

‘The gymnast'

‘The gymnast’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: AdhoMukhaVrksasana

 

My husband’s work is primarily focused on the human body, the human figure. It is what sculptors have focused on for centuries. With the aim of minimising, you can see a progression through theses images from earlier work to most recent work attempting to strip down the body to a simple line. Each showing movement and flow. What is fundamental in each piece though is balance and a harmony of lines vertically and horizontally.

the bow yoga pose

‘The Bow’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: Garbhasana

 

I gave myself a 30 days of yoga challenge at the start of the year which has helped me transition from the warmth of Egypt at the end of the year to grey January in the UK.  I would definitely recommend the energizing and enthusiastic Yoga with Adriene which I have been doing online for a while. Amazingly she takes live classes in an art gallery which as they are in Austin, Texas I am unable to get to! but in finding that out that discovered there are lots of yoga classes taking place in gallery spaces – what a great idea. Can’t find any in the UK though?

Body lang 1

‘Body Language’ by Sam Shendi. Yoga pose: Ardha Matsyendrasana

 

The images of my husband’s work are all of body movements I have roughly labelled them with a yoga pose, but they are by no means accurate. I am sure yogi experts would make corrections. Please do. Yoga was not the thinking behind the design of these sculptures but there are such strong connections. There is a beautiful mind, body, spirit link between yoga and art. Take the time to slow down and meditate on life, meaning, yoga and art.

Namaste

Speech and sandwiches

Exhibitions, Galleries

This post has been hovering in the save box for to long- I had completely forgotten I needed to upload the images.

The focus of the half term holiday came at the end when my husband gave a speech at Cartwright Hall alongside members of The Royal British Sculptor’s society (RBS) who came up from London to talk about public art and my husband’s piece in the park which won the Public Art Award FIRST@108 last year. It had been sat neatly in front of The RBS building in London for 8 months and in the summer moved to Lister Park where it is now being physically interacted with heavily by the local community.

This issue came up in discussion, about the placement of public art and public response to it. We have been through a whole gambit of emotions in our reaction to people climbing, jumping , sitting and scratching on all three of the pieces there. Ultimately though overriding any upset and anger, it is a great opportunity to have the work seen, interacted with and is a huge stepping stone and milestone in the journey. It was a gloriously sunny day and a great opportunity for those who had come to the talk to see the work outside.

I was so nervous for my husband as we hadn’t scripted anything and I was worrying if he would stumble, falter or ramble. In my unnecessary preoccupation with his preparation, I totally forgot to do what I usually do best and think about food. It was a lunchtime talk starting at 1pm and we arrived in the grounds at 12, I had a bag of cheddars and a satsuma each for the boys thinking that would keep them going after a late breakfast. However,  I hadn’t anticipated how long we would stay the talk lasted an hour and a half and as there were a good 40 plus people there we had lots of conversations afterwords. So we were still there at 3.3opm and our youngest was practically passing out. ‘Where were the sandwiches??’ I had packed plenty for the big draw two days earlier but my mind just hadn’t moved passed the 1pm speech!

The boys sat beautifully and patiently whilst they listened to the talk and I was so proud of them and my husband. It was perhaps a good thing we hadn’t over rehearsed a speech, it was natural and humourous and he did really well at conveying what he wanted to say about his practice, the development of his style and the award he had won. It was a memorable day, next time I just need to remember some sandwiches.

NB: Exhibition Launch at Cartwright Hall this Sunday 30th November 1pm

talk 2 talk