Husband

Connections, Egyptian, Relationships

Two years ago I wrote about ‘The date’ -(read to find out more about how we met). April 12th our anniversary. Today we have been married 13 years. However, I don’t know whether this date is as significant as the day we met which was in May, sixteen years ago. Sixteen years feels more significant than thirteen. It is crazy to think it is sixteen years since we met, part of me feels only a bit older than that! I don’t know if it is because I married an artist or an Egyptian but that makes no two days the same. I always thought you needed to find someone who was like you, your tribe. That there was some notion of finding another person and finding yourself. Instead I found someone who was the complete opposite of me in most things but he makes me laugh, at life, at myself and together. The verb of husband means to conserve resources and use them frugally which is exactly the opposite of what the sculptor does! The word ‘husband’ comes old norse for house dweller. In fact we bought our house just slightly before we got married so we did become house dwellers around the same time we became husband and wife so I suppose he became my husband thirteen years ago.

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” 

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

the kiss sold

‘The Kiss’ 2013 by Sam Shendi. 

 

Love is not the easiest journey and ours has its struggles and tests along the way. I have realised marriage is mostly a discovery of yourself rather than of the other person. So staring into each others eyes isn’t going to get you anywhere but having a direction forward is probably a better outlook.

Often as adults we are wounded. Wounded either by others or by ourselves. We can quite easily slip into a  daydream of remaining that way and thereby allowing past behaviours to continue. I have found that being with someone who is candid and open about his thoughts and feelings has helped me to unravel my own, slowly.

I think growing up I always believed in the idea that there would be ‘one’ but society, life, the current world we live in makes you question that idea. I was always looking for love. It definitely felt like we were destined to be. He is my guiding light.

 

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Temperatures and Temperaments

Making, Mother and Child

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Each afternoon this half term week, I have been in the shop which on these bizarrely warm February days has felt a little frustrating. This time last year we were deep in snow and forecasts do say snow is still on the way. As much as the sunshine has been lovely it is a concern that the seasons seem upside down. We are seeing the affects of climate change first hand. Temperatures slowly rising is not a good sign.

The eldest had his first gig last Friday evening which was amazing to watch. It was surreal to see him very relaxed and easily able to perform in front of a small crowd. He currently practises on an electric guitar at home and when he rehearsed at school one of their bass guitars. So, he desperately wanted to visit the guitar shop this week and look at a bass guitar. It was an interesting lesson for him to look and not purchase. He didn’t want to leave the shop. Teaching him patience.

The youngest had a flurry of football related activities to start the week off school which I had thought would help the arrangements for child care but actually just added in the complication of getting him to and from each day. Ambitious and anxious to do well in anything physical, he overcame his first day nerves and enjoyed three days of soccer in the sun.

I feel like the last remaining grains of our Egyptian holiday have finally disappeared and I am fully back into the routines and rhythms of daily life. Half term was needed simply to break the rhythm. However, it isn’t a break. Logistically more complicated almost but we have had sunshine! When it is good weather I have a compulsive urge to be out in it. I think, because there is never any consistency to the weather in this country.

I realise I live with an artist, a musician and a sportsman in my tribe, all with the temperaments to match. Which I joke, is why I did a Psychology degree, to be able to manage all these personalities. Having said that, I maybe the most temperamental one, my own mood was drastically affected by the moon last week which I have never felt such a connection to before. I do think the elements, the seasons, the weather affect us. What do you think?

I am attempting to make little changes at home, using refills for washing liquid, washing powered, hand soap. Trying to buy things without plastic but I wonder sometimes how this helps. There is so much more I could do but it is hard to be consistent and to keep on top of. Do you refuse, reuse, renew, recycle? We were clearing out the shed and tidying up the back yard last weekend and my fantastic, not so long ago purchased, glass water bottle, was left by me in a place which was perhaps precarious. Despite it’s rather sculptural silicone wrap, landing on the concrete  slab  yard meant it  smashed into several pieces. I was rather upset about it for numerous reasons. Of course all my boys seem to think that if it had been plastic it would have been better!

We are awaiting several projects in the pipeline and so it is a matter of waiting to see what will happen. So the sculptor is slightly in limbo waiting and with one of his metal pieces needing lots of sanding time he has set to work on a collection called, ‘Broken Clouds’. Going to collect the eldest from the studio who has been helping the sculptor in the afternoon has meant I have seen the progress of this new creation. It has been more of an experimental one but also a return to resin again which the sculptor had decided to stop. You can almost smell the toxicity in the air on approaching the studio. I now understand why the sculptor is concerned about his health. I think the studio is probably the antithesis of my approach to our home.

I like this collective title ‘Broken Clouds’ as it links to our current concern with climate change but perhaps also a connection to ourselves. Is the weather reflecting society. Is everything broken? I don’t often think too far in the future but when I consider what the world might be like when my boys are adults and for future generations, I do hope we can start to fix things. I believe it all starts with us. We have to be the one making the change.

“The greatest threat to our planet

is the belief that someone else will save it”, Robert Swan.

What is sculpture?

Connections, Making

bustblack

My Dad gave me a brilliant article titled, “When does art become art?” by John-Paul Stonard. Stonard argues that when we look at art “we depend overwhelmingly on the presence of the artist’s name”. Is it the ‘art’ that makes the artists rather than the other way around? “We take the thing we are looking at as ‘art’ because we have been told that it has been made by an artist”.

But what makes an artist an artist?

Micheal Craig Martin’s theory is, “As soon as you make a piece of art, you’re an artist”. You can only emerge in the art world as an artist if the work of art gives credit to the master. So the artwork has to be of a standard or quality? However, I am not sure we see that so much nowadays. It is not always about a thing of beauty. For my husband the idea that if you make art you are an artist doesn’t feel right. His idea is that to be an artist it is a level that you achieve when you combine, creativity, ideas and natural talent along with years of practise. My husband’s opinion is that:

“Art is like a world in a different galaxy, you have to travel for years to get to it and when you arrive anything you create becomes art”. 

His answer to the question ‘What is sculpture?’ is that it sculpture is a statement which shares the space with the viewer. It isn’t alive but it is a strong element or subject.

An old colleague of mine, having seen my endless Instagram stories about, ‘what is sculpture’ sent me a message saying his University tutor once said, “sculpture is the thing you bump into when you step back to look at painting”. Before meeting the sculptor I was always so much more interested in painting, I think for me art was painting. Where as now I feel there is something a little more sophisticated about sculpture. There is more of an avenue for abstraction and ambiguity. I was always interested in whether abstract art was a way forward or a dead-end? I think my opinion on that is ever-changing.

However, historically sculpture had more focus and attention. Monuments erected to dominate and display power and prowess. In the past, the Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans used their sculptures to connect people with gods. Sculptures were used to overpower people with the presence of three dimensional statues deemed to be a deity. Rulers had sculptures made of themselves. Sculpture was valued and therefore a method to mark out a society.

Duchamp changed the art world with his theory that the role of the viewer completed the work and created a total withdrawal from physically completing work. Heidegger in his ‘Origin of the Work of Art’ in  1935 argues that the artist remains inconsequential.lifeboat-2

“Beginning with art, rather than the artist , returns to the poetry of art”

The Industrial Revolution changed the possibilities available to sculptors. Carving had always been the main skill perhaps where as now fabricating, assembling, combining together materials seem to all be sculptural qualities. After the rise of modernism, the artist became able to manufacture all sorts of materials for the production of sculpture. Duchamp’s radical gesture opened the doors to different ways of generating sculpture. But the lines are now blurred between art forms. What about the statement, ‘You can’t have art without a creator’? Studios in the sixties changed as the factory and fabricators started to be more involved. The removal of carving out your craft, chipping away at a material to create a figure  was no longer the only means by which to produce form. So there isn’t just one person involved in the process but maybe just one person with the idea.

tube form

 

Other influences were nature and organic form on sculpture. Bio-morphism in art relates to the integration of natural and organic form into a work. These works sometimes look amorphous. Suddenly sculpture doesn’t have to be about form or focus on the human body. It opens up an avenue for a whole new exploration into shape, structure, space, line, dimensions.

I think if you look at a Shendi Sculpture, whether you understand it or not, it can be appreciated, observed and will stand the test of time. This is what I am unsure about with the more conceptual sculptures of today. In years to come will it still be able to exist without an ‘artist’ or ‘curator’ placing the ‘objects’ together in their ‘correct’ positions.

Is it all in the labels? Labels on the walls in the galleries, labels that we give people, labels that we give things. Lawerence Scott who was speaking on Russell Brand’s podcasts, Under the Skin last week touched on this idea of labelling and words. My interpretation of what was said, was that we label things in order to define them. Sometimes that definition packages things into boxes when the whole point is to try to think outside the box. Words sometimes are not quite enough to describe what we mean.

I asked our boys, “what is sculpture?” and the eldest replied, “it’s a man-made form which has meaning”. We have been discussing and questioning, as we constantly see new work, which we wonder whether fits in our 11 year olds definition.

Creativity today seems to come down to ideas and in the sculptural sense you can simply present an idea, which can then be classed as art. Classified as ‘art’, only if you are an established ‘artist’, of course.

'chemo 2007'

I’m not sure whether there is any conclusion to this question, but endless opportunities for discussion and I guess that ultimately is the point of art.

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

 

“What you see is what you see”

collections, Colour, Connections, Old Masters

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“A sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood up somewhere.”

 I’ve used this quote from Frank Stella before but it is so apt for this piece particularly. It harps back to the minimalists of the 1960’s who were looking at the basic elements of an artwork; colour, shape, composition and within that the principles of line, plane, volume, point and space. Cityscape II is the second in a pair within a collection called ‘The harmony between vertical and horizontal”. Interestingly the relationship between vertical and horizontal is that they are opposing elements, they are opposed by nature. This is a study of  the harmony that lies between those oppositions.

How often do we oppose things which causes conflict and dissolution. If instead we look at how contrast can work together to a mutual benefit. I often think of myself and my husband like this. My eldest son asked me one morning what is was about ‘Baba’ that made me know he was my husband. I said, “because he is everything I am not”.

Last week I wrote about visiting the city with my siblings. This week it was half term, hence the later posting and I’ve experienced more conflict between my boys this week. Each age and stage producing their own challenges. I took the boys into the city as we needed to return something. Doubly stressful. One almost fainted in the first shop and we had to pay extra to get on the train because our tickets were off peak! Despite the bickering and managing the crowds and changes int temperature from outdoors to inside we almost had a good time! Interesting, my youngest observed that there were more poor people in the city. There are definitely more juxtapositions to see in the city than the country.

In ‘What you see is what you see: Donald Judd and Frank Stella on the End of painting in 1966’ ,  question the qualities of painting and what painting is, promoting the idea of “A trend towards simpler painting” and a connection between the European geometric painters. Stella is likened to Mondrian and he dismisses this saying he felt he was more like Vasarely. Similarly, I would say that this new piece isn’t a sculpture trying to be a Mondrian in three dimensions but that it is a sculpture that  nods to the minimalists, those eternal elements that artists are exploring, playing and discovering. It is in itself the beauty of sculpture as a three dimensional art piece and the shapes and colours echoing those of Mondiran’s famous abstract paintings. If we look at each angle of this sculpture it is constructed, created, envisioned in form, space and order.

At the time when the minimalists were practicing they put forwarded their simpler approach paralleled by more complicated styles at the time. Perhaps similarly, with the art world today in an era of ‘objects’ and philosophy out weighing the craftsmanship, the sculptor – in this case my husband, is responding to that with highly polished, highly finished, and well designed sculptures. They are “works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” -which is ultimately the definition of art.

 

 

Cityscape II. Sam Shendi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to understand the mind of a sculptor

collections, Colour, Making

Mademoiselle 1

How do you see this sculpture? What do you see?

An abstract form? An insect, some kind of creature? An Alien? A landscape? Or something from your own imagination?

Whatever you see, you see something, you think about something, you remember something?

Frank Stella famously quoted that, “Sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood some where”. This quote I think could sum up my husband’s work. They are like three dimensional canvases. This piece particularly feels that way.

The other evening at the kitchen table, we had finished our supper and were chatting over a hot cup of tea. The last few days had been hot but the cool evening breeze had lowered and the hot tea felt magic.

It’s those little moments, subtle but memorable. When I asked my husband about this piece and he spoke and I wished I had recorded it.

For him, he has the idea, a shape, a concept in his mind. It is completely carved from every angle. He turns it around in his minds eye. Once complete he sets to work. The form then inspires the colour and like a painted canvas he then wraps it around the sculpture like gift wrapping a present , tight to the edges of the shape.

“Mademoiselle” 2017. Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi

This piece is a female form, a young woman experimenting with different hues, finding her true colours. She struts her stuff, thin not yet shaped by life or motherhood. It reminds me of A few days I spent in Paris in my early twenties by myself with my camera, taking back and white photos, not really appreciating the time, the freedom and the vitality I had.

For most of us our minds work in thoughts, ideas, imagination, maybe each one of us thinks different. Perhaps we all are the same. But to go that next step and create something not seen before is unique. That’s why (following on from my last post about SATS and Education) what we learn in school or the test scores don’t relate to our true potential.

Artists don’t need to create a realistic version of something these days. We have cameras and videos for record. To create something inspiring, memorable, colourful yet captures movement, form, beauty is the skill of a true sculptor.

The anvil of everyday living

collections, Colour

 

'A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.' Charles R. Swindoll

‘Anvil’ Sam Shendi 2017.                              

‘A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.’ Charles R. Swindoll

Having had half term inside  I was looking forward to the approach of spring. Lighter evenings and sunnier days. We had a couple of sunny but chilly days but it was a tease. Now, we have been snowed in for three days. I have never seen it like this before and the wind has sculpted the snow into its own interesting patterns on the pavements and roof tops. It’s the deepest ever. The wind is speaking in howls and moans around our yard. The sculptor managed to walk to the studio and the boys and I braved the bitter blowing and took out the sledge. Warmed up with dairy free hot chocolate, the boys have been busy sculpting with filmo. The fruit bowl is depleated and the kitchen tap no longer working, the pipes are frozen. We have been creating meals from the ingredients we have left in the house. Using what we have.

When using tools the sculptor often uses what we have. Cheese graters have often gone missing from our kitchen. He has made his own hot wire from guitar strings. The anvil was a tool the sculptor frequently used at University.

For me I see this piece as a woman even though interestingly we had some feedback about how this body of work is very masculine and therefore not inclusive of the ‘Only Human’ title of the collection. This came about because this collection was made directly following the ‘Mother and Child’ collection which exhausted the female form. Also this collection was inspired from experience from the sculptor so had a male perspective. However, none of the pieces are overly masculine though more androgynous I think. So here she sits, submissive but strong. Tired but not weakened.

Anvils are ancient tools, at one time everyday tools but they have acquired symbolic meaning beyond their use as utilitarian objects. The Anvil creates new life, creates beginning and sends a message to spirit to be ready to start creation; a symbol of virtue, courage and strength. She is all female to me.

 

Float like a butterfly and don’t be defeated

Colour, Connections
bull

In the studio: ‘Defeated Butterflies” by Sam Shendi.

I have used a few quotes of Muhammad Ali’s in my posts, as his determination and relentlessness remind me of my husband’s. It seems apt that I write about this today. My husband came downstairs this morning and said. Muhammad Ali died yesterday. I felt quite shocked, I don’t know why.

This almost colossal sculpture which my husband finished a few weeks ago immediately made me think of the line, ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’. Not just because of the butterflies but the idea of being a fighter, about feeling defeated. When asked about his Parkinson’s disease Ali  said, “Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important. It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk. Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.” There is no being defeated. Everything has a purpose.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

A friend told me the other day that seeing images of the making of the bull made her think it was a very masculine piece. She couldn’t believe it when she saw the images of the finished sculpture as the colour, the pattern, the wings of the butterfly, makes it feminine. This piece has everything.

“The man with no imagination has no wings.” – Muhammad Ali