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

Making a Statement

Colour, Making, Steel

Despite my last entry on not being able to write, I have been using what creative energies I have to put together this ‘statement’. I can’t take full credit and say it is my own words though, it is a rehash of things several others have written about my husband’s work. Things he said he wanted to include and a few sentences taken from here or there. Not sure if that is plagiarism mixed up together I think we have finally got a good ‘Artist Statement’. We have had several over the last few years that have almost been right but I think this one finally sums up the work we have to date.

It has now been uploaded on to the website http://www.samshendi.co.uk and we are now up and running on The Royal British Society of Sculptors profile . So we have made progress behind the scenes.

ARTIST STATEMENT

Graduating in 1997 with a first class BA degree with honors from Helwen University of Fine Arts in Cairo, Egyptian born sculptor Sam Shendi creates joyfully coloured abstractions of the human figure which, with the subtlest of indicators, hints at the complexity of human interactions.

Shendi’s works references the work of “minimalism”, the style of paring-down design elements and focusing on the medium of steel, aluminum and paint. Some of his works are deceptively simple in form but include the qualities of metaphorical associations, symbolism and suggestions of spiritual transcendence, which is what the artist of the 60’s and 70’s were trying to avoid.

His works whittles down the human figure to its simplest form enabling the exploration of the idea of the human form as a vessel. So by reducing the human body to a container or minimal shape, his creations become centered on an emotion or an expression. The simplicity is no longer the end result and devoid of meaning but a revelation of a hidden truth and intellectual expression.

Shendi’s work, therefore takes a fine line between representation and abstraction. Whilst he appreciates the abstract form his interest is in the human and psychological dimensions to his sculptures. Stripping human nature down to its essence, and then expressing it in a sculptural language.

Firmly based in modernist morphology his colorful architectural forms abbreviate the human figure and nod to his background in monumental sculpture and interior design. Shendi juxtaposes cartoonish lemon, ultraviolet and pumpkin-coloured blocks, conjuring associations with children’s toys and industrial design and lending his pieces an emotive and playful quality. His candy-coated palette animates the archetypal themes he addresses in his work. Assisted by the use of colour to deceive the eye, flouting a sense of gravity and taking the attention away from the material also gives the work a strong optical impact.

Sometimes we may feel the tension which despite their moderate size almost bear a ‘’will to grow’’ into monuments that we could easily imagine standing in the center of any city or landscape. Pieces balance between public art, sculptural and on the border of design.

With laconic titles his work takes on themes both in subject and style and it is clear to see pieces that group together in an exploration of an idea. They form a visual story and a unique style. There is always one important element, functioning as a keystone connecting all his creation – the theme of a human being in his most genuine form. Shendi always develops his creation around subjects, which are common, understandable and important to all of us, no matter what our taste, age or cultural background may be.

Describing himself as a figurative sculptor it is important to Shendi that the work, however minimalistic still has an impact on the viewer visually and emotionally. Recognizing his work as both literally geometric forms and industrial materials but also with additional meaning in bringing back the idea of traditional academic sculpture of humanity and emotion, results in a distinctive blend of modernity and timelessness.

'Red'

‘Red’

blue

‘Blue’

Selling our ‘Souls’

Colour, Soul searching, Steel

I think this is longest time I haven’t written an entry and I have been trying to figure out why.

 Festivities, family visitors, foggy brain, I just haven’t had the time to finish a post I started in December or to think through what I needed to say. So I have abandoned my ‘seasons greetings’ and moved into the ‘January blues’ and finally on a quiet Sunday I can write about ‘consumption’. The disease that took many was named ‘consumption because helpless bystanders  saw the dying consumptive facing night sweats and chills, paroxysmal cough, which spread the disease to other organs of the body, and of course, the wasting away.

To consume comes from the Latin consūmere to devour.  (v. t.) To destroy, as by decomposition, to waste; to burn up; to eat up; to devour. In old english ‘consumer’ meant the devil. Like fire consumes wood, the devil would consume the souls of men. It is the nature of the demonic realm, ‘profligate people are brethren of the devil’.

I have realised that I have spent the last month and a half ‘consuming’. Devouring food, in taking caffeine, an active consumer buying presents, shopping, to waste time watching television, facebook. Swept along with society. To me it seems that is what the month of December is now based on, these apparently shared values of “consumerism,”  and “pleasure” and idea that the world is created basically for play and entertainment.

January means we are suffering from the over indulgence of December as we try to reign back the wildness of our lower selves. We have sold our higher level of being to ‘consumption’ and so we slowly destroy ourselves, waste away slowly. January feels long and dark as we look forward to spring to detox, cleanse ourselves and search for light of our ‘souls’ to return. So that we don’t “sell our souls” to the devil.

My point of all these references is that, we sold the 5 ‘souls’ which were in exhibition at The Royal British Sculptor Society and so all these pieces now have a new home. So there is a happier more positive outcome to my reason for writing but the point is we mustn’t forget to take care of our soul, for that is the nature that makes us human.

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 These pieces to allow the viewer to look within the sculpture instead of just at the outline of the sculpture. Looking at the pattern, our mind tricks us into seeing certain shapes that represent familiar objects that our eye and brain recognise, for example, faces. Somehow, its like staring at the clouds and you can see shapes, figures, animals objects. You know it doesn’t exist that it is your imagination tricking you. Perhaps this is why  these pieces are entitled ‘Souls’; as some of us believe that souls exist and some of us don’t. 

The more you stare at the pieces, the more faces you see and it feels like there is a lot within and I guess this depends on how deep your imagination can go. The ‘Soul’ is something for the imagination, you don’t see it, feel it , taste it, or measure it. Using the colours somehow activates these ‘Souls’ and breathes life in to the pieces, also making the heavy steel weightless.The block of solid mild steel used are car panels from classic british racing Raleigh cars. I believe our souls are weightless too. It is easy to describe emotions with colours and it is fascinating that universally we share the same emotions but to different degrees. White to present innocence. Green for hope. Black for hate. Blue for sorrow. Red for violence. All sorts of colours could represent the emotion or experience we go through.

 The aim was to create the most minimalistic object to present the human being, without the container we call the figure.  Our bodies don’t present who we are. Our personality and our decisions is what makes us who we are and this vessel holds these qualities in until our organs are no longer able to maintain them. Perhaps the viewer can relate themselves to one of the ‘souls’ or find parts of themselves within them all. Engage with them emotionally by the simplest means possible. 

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’

The Reality

Colour, Exhibitions, Mother and Child, Public Art, Relationships, Soul searching

In a world where we have ‘reality’ TV shows, cyber worlds in which we can make our lives appear very different to the day-to-day routines and constant ‘updates’ of people’s daily realities, I thought it appropriate to look at ‘what is real’.

It is a week ago since we were heading down on the train for the preview. I consciously decided to write ‘The review’ almost not as ‘The sculptor’s wife’ but as someone else who had, had the luxury of being able to glide around the exhibition unhindered by children in their ‘mad hour’. I wanted not to taint my husband’s proud moment with my reality.

The journey started with my husband’s realisation that he had left his jacket at home, the one he had dry cleaned and planned to wear – outfit all imagined of course. Not a good start. One stressed artist in a confined space with two excited boys. Anyway, the food and books  prepared kept them busy. I let it all wash over me and stayed calm. We got to the hotel, changed and met family to enjoy a meal at a Lebanese restaurant around the corner. The boys had gone into hyper mode. I think I became a bit dazed by the sudden thrust into central London life and I was unable to eat much of the yummy food on offer. The walk to the Royal British Sculpture Society offered a moment to savour the atmosphere but as we gathered outside and met with friends it dawned on me that the space inside may not handle all our contrasting energies. Inside, I managed a few snatched conversations and introductions with people I wanted to speak with but overly aware of my youngest hurtling around. As I reflect, I recall an almost cat and mouse game of chase around one of the exhibitions. No wonder someone came out making a comment about not wanting to meet the children inside at a restaurant.Whoops. Half prepared, I dug out folded pieces of paper and crayons I had brought with me with visions of calmly occupied children sketching. Mmm… perhaps if it had been 10.30 in the morning that would have worked. Whilst the speeches were underway the boys bounced off the steps outside, my sister anxiously wondering who was with them as we were tightly compact with no way of assuring their safety. However, they were with a friend and relatively content. My husband was whipped away to speak with a potential client and with my eldest becoming somewhat overwhelmed with tiredness and emotion I took us back to the hotel thankful that it was just around the corner.

passion for freedom

‘The Toy’ exhibiting in Embassy Tea Rooms ‘Passion for Freedom’

Alongside all this my husband also had to organise in the middle of the night the journey of ‘The Toy’ coming down to ‘Passion for Freedom’ which had to change their venue at the last-minute. This meant that the day after whilst he ran across London to meet with the van and deliver it. I took the boys to a museum round the corner with a phone that no longer had any battery. The reality of being out of mobile phone contact when needing to liaise meeting up made for good problem solving skills to come into play. In all, it was an exciting trip and the buzz of it was amazing but good to reflect a week on and put some perspective and ‘reality’ to it. Sometimes we so often see the duck gracefully swimming that we forget the ferocious paddling underneath.

This morning, my boys were playing an imaginary game and I suddenly tapped into their reality and seized the moment to connect their reality with mine. I wish I could do this more often. The three-headed monster (the light in their bedroom) who was a potential threat assisted me by becoming the reason to armour up into school uniform. Hats for helmets, space boots and then our rocket ship journey to school was a more peaceful one than previous mornings.

We chain ourselves to things that make us act, behave, see, respond in a certain way. Our possessions, the people around us are all given to test us for what is real. This piece below is the one ‘nestled in the fireplace’ in the exhibition. ‘Cruelty: This work confronts the parent/child relationship and questions our imposition of moral and social systems which conflict with our own inner truth.’

As with this life, it may seem like the reality but sometimes we need to stand back and look beyond the illusory pleasures of this temporary world and ask ourselves what is real?

'Cruelty'

‘Cruelty’

 

The Review

Awards, Public Art

Wednesday 30th October saw the opening of the FIRST@108 public art award , the commission for the external piece for 108 Brompton Road and exhibition. The evening was crisp cold but dry, perfect for viewing the outside sculpture in the forecourt of the Royal British Sculptor Society. The lighting illuminated ‘Evolution’ gloriously, the stripes of the central piece mirroring the external pillars and the minimalistic shapes appearing like a city skyline. The vibrant sculpture intrigued the passer-by along with our large group congregating unintentionally outside as we waited for the doors to officially open and enter into the colourful land of the Shendi sculptures inside.

illuminated

‘Evolution’ at night

night evolve

Illuminated outside RBS

As we entered drinks and brochures were laid out before entering into the exhibition room. The pieces, so bright and cheerful gave an energy to the inside space, ‘Souls’ perfectly positioned in front of each of the leaded glass windows.

souls in windows

‘Souls’ in the windows

‘The Branch’ stood with the bird perched on foot with high quality shine and the elegant neck of the horse held a gracious curve glancing down at the floor to which we could find the piece entitled ‘Cruelty’ nestled in the fireplace. With sad eyes but strong sentiments and chained to its heavy load, almost floating above which hung the original sketch with figurative notations. On the wall opposite the entrance also hung three framed sketches adding another dimension to the work. As the room gradually filled so that the work only peeped out between the people, there was then an eloquent speech by the president of the society followed by a witty and intelligent introduction to the award by Isabel Vasseur who in the brochure had written;

 “The choice of Sam Shendi this year, an artist constantly interested in placing work in the public domain, is timely, working as he does with the idea of engaging in a tangible dialogue with the onlooker. His sculpture ‘Evolution’ imparts a notion that each elemental figure has its own concerns which it wants to convey to others. a joyfully coloured abstraction of human figures which, with the subtlest of indicators, hints at the complexity of human interactions. Today’s passers-by are likely to respond to the many layers of this work in the same wa as their forbears recognised the multiplicity of meanings in the Price Albert memorial only a moment’s walk away from Shendi’s brave work.”

people in space

‘The Branch’ and ‘The Ride’

speeches

The speeches

The success of the opening marks the start of hopefully good things to come. With an impending visits and intriguing activities for children from local schools. Discussions with other venues for a second home for ‘Evolution’ after it’s three-month stint in south Kensington, potential sales and a step into the public art world.

As one artist dies another one is born

Awards, Public Art

It was saddening to here the passing away of Sir Anthony Caro. One who has influenced and inspired my husband. His work made from industrial materials, bright colours and commentary of society with humour and intelligence is somewhat parallel to my husband’s work. What is sculpture for? Caro’s reply: “To please the eye&feed the soul”.

After 6 months,  ‘Evolution’ the winning sculpture for the FIRST@108 art award has been installed  in the forecourt of The Royal British Society of Sculptors  the installation went very smoothly and attracted many people passing by. Thanks to everyone at RBS and Thanks to the team for making the installation look very easy to onlookers. Thanks to everyone who has supported who voted back in March. Let’s hope that the passing of Caro doesn’t mean the end of sculpture that engages with the viewer. We need art that stirs our senses and makes us desire internal change.  Lets hope this is a stepping stone towards his career and  is an inspiration to many. What is sculpture for? Shendi’s reply has always been: “to be visually attractive & emotionally provoking”

wagon

‘The wagon’

install 3install 2installinstall 4 install good angle

 

Autumn Days when the sculptures went to London…

Awards, Exhibitions, Galleries

…and the sun was shinning in an almost cloudless sky.

Estelle White’s ‘Autumn Days’ hymn has been the soundtrack to the last few months for us and we occasionally sing it together in chorus. Our three-year old shouts out the song at every possible moment particularly in the car, much to the eldest son’s annoyance but today it is so fitting. It is a glorious autumn day. The sky is clear and I can see a silky cobweb float across the road in front of me as I sit and contemplate after a busy morning. I felt I was running internally, never mind to school, to take the car to be cleaned, to work. We mustn’t forget to be Thankful.

My husband and his friend had to get up at 3am and the alarm woke him in a sudden jerk. I heard the coffee machine and the careful movements around the house getting everything together. I couldn’t get back to sleep until I heard the front door shut and they slipped out quietly into the crisp early hours. So I too, also pushed the coffee button this morning which fuelled me to get a dozen jobs done before 9am but consequently making me very snappy with my boys and not staying calm enough to take the morning pace smoothly yet again. The winter moon calmly shining down on us which the boys spotted very visibly as they tumbled out the door and climbed on the wall whilst I shouted at them to get in the car before I counted to five! No, we mustn’t forget.

After hours, days and months of hard work  the finishing up was done and the wagon was filled last night successfully, with the sculptures fitting in like a jigsaw. Thanks to my husbands keen eye and good measurements. The rain stopped thankfully and a radiantly clear morning made for the drive to London. Last night I busily put together a stack of egg sandwiches for their journey, cupcakes for the school bake sale and the last few bits of preparation, getting the camera ready, and the last bits of paperwork  done. My husband said he knew he had got everything he needed, all the tools for any eventuality but he was still worried that there may be something he had forgotten.  What had he forgotten? Apparently they got all the sculptures in and then remembered thank goodness the bird on the windowsill. Though my immediate reaction was, at least we could take it on the train.  We mustn’t forget to be Thankful.

'polishing the platform'

‘polishing the platform’

sculptures wrapped

‘Sculptures wrapped like bodies ready to go’

getting ready

‘Wrapping up’

So whilst the ‘Evolution’ sculpture gets erected with the team helping my husband, and the pieces installed for the exhibition. I am looking after the business thankful for a few hours of quiet. Picking up the car gratefully cleaned, sparkling and smelling fresh before whatever was rotting inside gave us poisoning. Then collecting my preschooler to look after the shop together before the eldest child’s parents evening and swimming lesson. I am so thankful the sun is out giving us a dry day, for the installation of the exhibition and everything they need to do outside in London and then for their journey home.

 So as the song continues to echo in my mind, “Autumn days, when the clouds look like familiar faces…. the swallows curving in the sky, we mustn’t forget to say a big thank you.” No, we mustn’t forget.

Getting Ready

Awards, Philosophy, Soul searching
getting ready

‘Section of ‘The Branch’ to be in exhibition at The Royal British Sculptor Society’ from next week (31/10/13)

I have been busy this weekend ‘getting ready’ for my husband’s best friend arriving and staying with us. Shopping, cleaning, sorting, baking, cooking, all the things we do to prepare for visitors. It wouldn’t be a negative thing except for then nobody can do anything until guest has arrived and then everyone can relax and mess it all up again! I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but my ‘traditional English roast dinner’ was practically perfect. With no burning or breakages in sight. This was aided with a list of timings and post stick notes stuck on pans. All the scrubbing and washing and wiping and brushing is a preparation for an end result that doesn’t last. The peeling, the chopping, the stirring, for food that is eaten in less than half the time. However, when done lovingly the pleasure is in seeing happy satisfied friends and family at the end of it.

This weekend also saw the wrapping and sorting of the sculptures ‘getting ready’ for transit this week down to London. My husband remarked that they all look like dead bodies, mummified ready for their journey to another destination. There is still a bit of paper work to be done but most of the preparation has gone really well. Then wagon is set to arrive for the loading and for a band of merry men to take the ‘exhibition’ down and install it for the preview. To which we will then all go back down again the following week. Again, which we will need to ‘get ready for’.

My brother is ‘getting ready’ for leaving home for the other side of the world and my sister for a new job. So we are in the ‘getting ready’ period. Sometimes it can feel like we are permanently in that point in time, preparing for something with the end result feeling too far away or when it comes around we realise the ‘getting ready’ was the best part.

Nature is ‘getting ready’ for its period in hibernation. The Trees are shedding their leaves and the earth is in retreat. Everything in this life fades and dies. Ultimately what are we all ‘getting ready’ for and what are our preparations?

Selected

Exhibitions, Galleries
'Sperm'

‘Sperm’

We have had a flurry of ‘You have been selected’. All the pieces got selected for the Bradford Open (28 September – 19 January ) Yipee! The mad dash panic last week was worth it. My husband came in the other night and said, ‘How far away is Wales’? I’ve just applied for something there. Let’s have a look I said. WELLS not WALES (roll of the eyes yet again) in October, like we need anything else to do.  A ‘soul’ piece got selected for the Wells Open. Followed by an email asking if we were interested in a solo exhibition next year in the North West. Also, selected to be an associate member of The Royal British Sculpture Society, so can now put ARBS after his name. So a pretty good week in terms of ‘selection’.

This piece above, simply titled ‘Sperm’ has been selected for the Bradford, Cartwright Hall. I think how ‘Selected’ links with this piece is pretty obvious, well, it puts a smile on your face, right? Enough said!