The Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti in colour

Colour, Egyptian
Four and sculpture

The sculptor and four of the Forbidden Sculptures collection.

In this heat and sunlight everything seems more vibrant and lustrous. So the images of the Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti are here in colour. Last night there was a little coolness for a brief moment and I had sudden inspiration but forgot to write anything down and back again in the heat I can no longer remember what words. It is so hot in the showroom I can’t think. So words will be a limit here and the images say it all.

The story is in last weeks post.

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The Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti

collections, Egyptian

Way back in December my husband said he was closing shop, closing studio for a few weeks. Time Off. Haha who was anyone kidding, the following day he was at the studio creating a new collection. This new collection is steeped in history, a concept, a story.

If you cast your imagination back, back to the time of ancient Egyptians. “The King’s Favourite and Master of Works, the Sculptor Thutmose” flourished in 1350 BC. Thutmose is thought to have been the official court sculptor of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten towards the end of his reign.

Nefertti

The bust of Nefertiti sculpted by Thutmose

The sculptor of the royal house was commissioned to make works of decoration and public art including the well-known Nefertiti Bust (above)

However, the story goes that in the secret spaces of his own studio the sculptor set to work on his own private collection. Looking at the Queen everyday working on the portrait the sculptor fell in love with his muse. So inspired he started working prolifically on full figures presenting her in shapes never seen before, inspired by the beauty of the young queen he explored his own style.

sanding nEFERTITI

Sam Shendi in the Studio

Or perhaps the Queen and her sculptor were in love and she commissioned him in secret to work on something that freed him from the constraints of the public design. She wanted him to dedicate his practise to her.

sanding Nefertiti 2

Sanding

Either way, these sculptures were hidden away in his studio and had no opportunity to be unveiled. To be revealed would make his love known or be too much evidence of love forbidden.

RESIN nEFERTITI

Next layer

They remained unearthed in the studio like beings from another world. Beautiful creations dancing in the shadows.

The possibilities of this story, the discovery of several works in the remains of the sculptor’s studio and suggestions that it was the sculptor alone and not an apprentice that worked on those of Nefertiti suggests some sort of secret.

resin anEF 2

Working on the Nefertiti collection in the studio

This story inspires the new collection.

Studio all Nefertti

Studio full of the forbidden sculptures of Nefertiti

Each piece would be positioned on an individual plinth and in two parallel rows of four. These stunning black and white photos below showcase the form, line and perfect finish of these works. Every time my husband finished new work, I think it is the best. Next week I will show you the finished full colour collection.

shadow 2 Nefertiti

Head Shot. Black and White photos of sculptures

shadow Nefertiti

Start well

Connections, Egyptian, Galleries

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can” Arther Ashe.

We woke up to a wet Wednesday morning which was slightly unusual after a run of warm weather but the land certainly needed it. My morning routine has gone slightly  off the last few weeks, I recently discovered that starting your day well bodes for a productive one. It was just my youngest son and I this morning making for a relatively peaceful breakfast. The eldest is away on a week long school residential at an outdoor pursuits centre and the sculptor was up at 3.30am to make another trip to London. We received a confirmation email which drafted the running order for the evenings diner which stated; ‘After main course David invites Sam Shendi to say a few words’.

I felt about as nervous as doing our VAT return manually (which I have just done as I have been in the shop all day) and I am not even the one having to speak. He hasn’t prepared anything! I think we toyed with the idea for ‘STart’ as a business name, the first letters of our initials followed by art, sounded pretty good to me but somehow we came up with Arabesque. Big debate about who actually came up with that! However, START is the name of a five year running art fair now based in the prestigious Saatchi gallery.

So the sculptor drove down to Saatchi gallery with some sculptures for June’s collector’s club dinner. We are trying not to get too excited or hopeful that this could result in anything….it is so hard. Each opportunity we get feels like it could be the next big break but as of yet they are all just little steps, none of which enable us to project him into being a full time sculptor or breaking through into something more concrete. I don’t think the art world is concrete or sustained, but some indication we are in the right direction and some break through would be good. We remain patient (ish)!

On Tuesday evening our youngest and I watched the preamble to the Egypt v Russia World cup football match. The start of Salah’s life began from a small village in Northern Egypt. The start of Shendi’s life also began from a small village in Northern Egypt some twenty years prior to that. I thought of the parallels and the differences between Salah  and the sculptor. Sport and Art careers are very different but they are both reliant on that lucky break. My husband also spent a few years in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, so in some respects an even more untrodden path leading him yesterday down to London to Saatchi.

start

Whilst he was dining in the gallery, I cooked at home and then waited for a call. 11 o’clock he rang said it was, “‘expletive’ awesome” and that they had to pack up and drive back so he would tell me all later. Of course after that, I was too excited to sleep. 1am, 2am…think I got to sleep by 3am and the sculptor rolled in at 5am. Having thought yesterday was going to be coffee fueled day actually it was today. When the youngest and I returned from school/shop and after school activities the sculptor was still asleep and hasn’t stirred. So it is now Thursday night, summer solstice and I still don’t know what happened. The sculptor slept for 24 hours. Finally, this morning (Friday) at 5 am he gave me a run down of the event.

It was an exciting dinner with Saatchi CEO Nigel Hurst and Start Art Fair co- founder David Ciclitira. Making their acquaintance and being advised on which direction to take for his solo booth at the start art fair in September.

Quite appropriately this special piece below, entitled ‘The Diner’, points out the excessive spending on food and drink not just in rich societies but in poorer countries too whilst other parts of the world suffer with starvation. Whatever you are going to eat, whatever the cost within 6 to 8 hours it will be going down the toilet.

diner

‘The Diner’ 2011. Bronze. Sam Shendi

 

When I first met my husband (before he was my husband) he gifted me an amazing hand drawn sketch book he had won as a prize at university. When we were in Egypt on a visit to his village we went to his Auntie’s house and I commented on her dress (abaya), she went off to make tea and came back with a tray of drinks but wearing something different. The dress was now folded and gifted to me. Arab culture is renowned for their generosity, it is part of their hospitality. So at the dinner when David said he liked the piece, ‘The Diner’, the sculptor immediately said to him, “it’s yours”.

Today as we sit and talk through his plan for the START art fair in September (which I am very excited to go to, it will be my second ever trip away from the boys) my husband is talking about taking his coffee machine and water bottles to give to people. We have spoken out the layout, what to do with the walls and publicity material.

It is another step. Another part of the journey. It is all a start.

 

 

 

Who on earth was Anthony Bourdain?

collections, Philosophy, Soul searching, Uncategorized

Last Friday, towards the end of my month long self-imposed ban on social media (which I have not been very good at adhering to). I saw a dramatically written little square which caught my attention and thinking space. Grief. Weeping and outpouring. Someone had died.

widow11

Widow, 2017 Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi

There were several posts about this apparent icon. Anthony Bourdain. I had never heard of him. Ignorant or not, whichever camp you are in. I had to look him up on the internet. A Chef. Some of the images and comments about him made me think of my husband in certain ways. The life experience and the stories. I hadn’t heard of his books or seen any of his TV shows. I wondered fleetingly, why there was such an outpouring of despair over one man whom people probably hadn’t even met, when thousands are killed, bombed, persecuted everyday.

There is often that collective overwhelming emotion when something tragic happens, shock, confusion, empathy and probably a whole host of other sentiments. A sudden awareness that life is fragile and nothing is permanent. If we can focus on being mindful in the moment and grateful, the more we can appreciate those precious moments and find the true meaning of being happy.

That very same Friday afternoon I found out my son’s year six teacher was leaving the school. I was shocked and saddened that my youngest son wouldn’t get the golden nuggets of teaching my eldest has received. Preparing him for secondary school with confidence, self belief and optimism. Whilst I know and I am sure there are lots of good teachers, some people are just irreplaceable. I also felt deeply dissapointed that my youngest sport-loving boy wouldn’t have this amazingly sporty teacher. Despite that, it’s a couple of years before my son would have been in her class and who knows what will happen between now and then. We could even move- who knows what can happen in that space of time. I related my strong and almost violent emotion about this news to what I had been reading that morning. I really had to try and sit with my feelings and find out why I was so emotional. It was almost  parallel, so who was I to judge someone else’s overt emotion. I was feeling the same and it wasn’t even death.

This piece entitled, ‘Widow’ captures grief. It suggests the female form and there is a strong femininity about the piece. For me it is my favourite of the Rudimentary collection. When I see this piece I am reminded of a friend, not only because she is a widow but because of a memory I have from when we were young. We were canoeing on the canal and a swan, protecting her nest swam up to my friend and started pecking at her. No matter how frantic and aggressive swans can be there is an elegance, tranquility and beauty about the swan. The arch of the neck hangs down in a graceful sorrow. In mythology the swan was sacred to Venus, goddess of love. Death is all the more tragic because of love. When we love something it is hard to let it go.

Departure is very different from death but perhaps a grief still the same. Yet change is enevitable and very much a part of life. In the end everything comes to an end.

Who was Anthony Bourdain? I didn’t know him but I think when someone dies, suddenly, tragically, at a point in time where we had pressumed no expectation of that passing away, it is wake up call to and/or for ourselves. A realisation and a reminder that we don’t know when we will take our last breath. It is a journey, actually the only certain one, one which we are most often ill prepared for.

When striving for success in a career in this earthly domain it can come at a cost. It seems it did for Bourdain. It often does for artists and I know it is often a struggle for my husband who sacrifices a lot for time in the studio. A creative life doesn’t exist in a straight line and there is a risk of the unknown. Jamie Aaron states in his 11 things highly creative people sacrifice for their art, “They sacrifice the life people told them they should have for a life they love, a life that is inspiring and thrilling. Because that’s the whole point. To create is a privilege, one that artists know not to take for granted. To deny a conventional life is a risk, but not as great a risk as to deny their heart.”

Serendipitously we watched Disney’s ‘Coco’ last night after a month of not watching television (we were a bit more successful at that abstention). The story was about the inhabitants of the land of dead, the unseen world depicted gloriously in this animation, being able to pass back over into the land of living for one day, if they have been remembered by tributes. The main character has to question ‘what form of legacy matters the most and whether our personal ambitions can successfully coexist alongside our commitment to loved ones’. The main song gives a message of how important it is to remember those that have passed away.

“Remember me, though I have to say goodbye
Remember me, don’t let it make you cry
For even if I’m far away, I hold you in my heart
I sing a secret song to you each night we are apart
Remember me, though I have to travel far
Remember me, each time you hear a sad guitar
Know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
Until you’re in my arms again, remember me

Remember me, for I will soon be gone
Remember me, and let the love we have live on
And know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
So, until you’re in my arms again, remember me”

Life is a spiritual experience by the very nature of being conscious, by being aware. The sculptor’s work often explores the idea that the body is simply a vessel. We are essentially souls experiencing the world through the body. But the soul is unseen. So perhaps death is simply the end of the body in this world. The soul returns.

“For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.” Kahlil Gibran

 

A repost of an interview in South Africa. In conversation with….

Exhibitions, Galleries

It is a year since this exhibition in South Africa but I wanted to re-post this video to see again this huge collection down in the southern hemisphere. Some great, huge pieces and a collection which tells a story. Sculptural Story telling.

 

A day in the life

collections, Connections, Galleries

moving tiptoesculptures out

moving

Last week almost at the same time that I was writing about ‘Back biter’, we got an email enquiring about pieces from the Rudimentary collection to exhibit at Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer, part of the William Benington Gallery.  The outdoor space seemed a perfect location for them.

So, it was a last-minute organisation and consequently there was only a seven and a half tonne wagon available to hire. A few hours later we got an email from Saatchi online to say that The Keyhole Man had sold but the client needed it immediately for an event so it would have to be ready for Tuesday. At the same time as sorting out vans and drivers for sculpture delivery. We were printing off the paperwork for transport and  organising a crate to be made. Things always seem to happen last-minute and all at once!

On Sunday morning the alarm went off at 4am and the sculptor got up to go to the studio and with his two side kicks and the rather large truck travelled down to Buckinghamshire with sculptures loaded up.

backbiter in the woodsbb outdoor

This pieces looks even better outdoors with the reflections of the branches bouncing of the almost spider-like sprawl of Back biter.

Meanwhile, I was still in bed but unable to get back to sleep and for some reason my eldest unusually knocked on the door at 7.30am.  During the week I am the first to rise at around 6.30 but 7.30 felt far too early after not quite enough sleep. However, we all had to go out for the youngest football match. So I felt that I dragged myself out of bed.

Saturday had been a super glorious day with full sun and blue skies so it was a stark contrast to be stood in the rain and cold wind watching the football. We headed home for baths and snacks and an early lunch and I had to get on with painting the cupboard housing the attic ladder. Our attic conversion is almost complete but there is still much to be done in the remainder of the house. The good thing about having spare wood and tools lying around the house is that the boys busily got on with making a trident and Warwick castle inspired swords, not without bickering which seems to have become a new stage. The tiredness of the Saturday sun making us all a little weary.

For the sculptor in the van in the south, it was another hot and sweaty day and doing ‘a there and back trip in a day’ with a capped limit of 60 mph meant he didn’t return until 9pm. He was still adamant he would get up for a morning appointment for our business and then crate up the ‘red man’. Needs must. Somehow he did manage to get himself up and out. Perhaps, the southern sun had given him an extra dose of energy.  All worth it for how stunning these look in the grounds though.

And so ‘ Back biter’, ‘Widow’ and ‘Mademoiselle’ are now all in a new home for the next few months, great to see them outside in all their glory. Masterful pieces of hand carved sculpture.

A busy day for us all and how that has a ripple effect on the week, more so with the fact that the house is still upside down.

 

tiptoe outdoors

‘Tiptoe’, looking like a Dr Seuss creature exploring in the woods.

talking ou amm

mam outside

‘Mademoiselle’ strutting her stuff in between the trees

2 shendi outdoor

Rudimentary, my dear…

collections, Old Masters, Philosophy

…Watson, is what I want to say everytime we mention the ‘Rudimentary collection’ but before I go into a break down of each piece. I thought I would post this video for you to get the artist’s insight into this collection. This collection is more abstract than other so it is interesting to hear the thought process behind the work.

Video Clip below:

Understanding other cultures (and sculptures)

collections, Connections, Egyptian, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching
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‘Defender’ 2017 Only Human Collection

This was the first piece the sculptor made in ‘The Only Human’ collection and I am writing about it last as we round-up this collection of work. At the moment a few of this collection are on display in London, until the end of August. (link)

If you have spent time within a different culture then you’ll know how sometimes somethings can seem baffling, unusual and can challenge your way of thinking. Alternatively there are experiences which can be preferable or that you may want to adopt. Either way a new or different culture can open us up to a new ways of seeing.

When I was younger I remember my Father, who is a teacher, doing a school assembly on the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant , it cleverly demonstrates how a person can have one way of seeing something very differently to another and it affecting their interpretation of that idea. Culture can be very much like that.

I was fortunate to spend time in Japan at the age of 18 which opened my eyes to sights, sounds, smells and tastes that were totally new to me. My first image of a lady walking a cat on a lead, wearing what looked like a surgical mask over her face was definitely a diary entry. Green tea that tasted bitter, bland tofu and miso fish was a first meal that made me wonder if I would survive my 6 months there, such a lover of food am I. This was also back in the days before we had any of these food flavours and products available in the UK. Now matcha lattes and ramen bowls are all on trend. My eldest even requested sushi for one of his school lunches! Japanese food in lots of small little bowls and chop sticks whilst siting on the floor was certainly something I fell in love with, along with the house design and contemplation of nature and tranquility.

madame b2

‘Madame Butterfly’ Calligraphy collection

On Saturday evening we went to see the Opera, Madame Butterfly, a Christmas gift from my parents.  My husband had already seen it before in Cairo which had inspired him to make the sculpture above, titled after the opera and a very different style and material to ‘Defender’. The Alhambra opera used shadows in the performance at at the weekend to depict some of the scenes. So I loved the connection between the set design and this piece.

The Japanese culture could be summed up in two words, honour and respect and this is very much what fuels the tragic ending of the opera. Japanese design and living is about capturing the beauty then discarding the rest.  ‘Madame Butterfly’, the sculpture from the Calligraphy collection (also a Japanese art form) nods to this etiquette in that it is displaying only what is essential in exploring outline rather than playing with form.

In contrast to ‘Madame Butterfly’, ‘Defender’ is all mass and form. It is interesting how seeing something from a different angle can influence how we look at something. Writer, Cherry Smyth when first viewing this piece describes; “In ‘Defender’ (2016) the buffed, open arms of the upright, stocky animal –human hybrid end in what could be black hooves. It tilts its head as if ready to take on anything that comes, and its stolid black and yellow torso is built to impress. For Shendi, the figure represents the ‘defender we all need from time to time.’ It could also suggest the super-ripped gym bodies we increasingly seek, that render the limbs less agile and flexible for the sake of a pose of durability.”

The sculptor didn’t make ‘Defender’ with Egypt in mind, but it was a consideration for placing in an outdoor area in Cairo at one point. The idea of needing a defender is fitting for Egypt and the contrast between these two sculptures is very much like the Japanese and Egyptian culture.

My next big culture experience was at 21 in Egypt, I cried at the airport in Cairo not wanting to leave at the end of my travels. This was way before I was to meet my own Egyptian Sculptor. Funny how fate intervenes. My heart planted a root unbeknown to me. But travelling for a few weeks through a country is not the same as being immersed in one. Although I have since been back several times and am now married to an Egyptian. Egypt is a complex one and certainly less ordered, neat and tidy than the Japanese. It’s almost antithetical in every way.

CLASH is an Egyptian film set in Cairo during the 2013 protests. It portrays the claustrophobic intimacy of a police vehicle where the viewer witnesses the intense heat, no water and over crowded conditions of the van. In many ways it parallels the country as a whole. The individuals in the van display kindness and anger within seconds. Emotions flare up in all directions and we see the injustice, senseless behaviour that is a country at war with itself as so are the people it is made up of. Perhaps, ‘Defender’ is for those moments like in the van, breaking down barriers, pushing past the intensity of the stiffling experience and the personalities which almost smother each other.

It’s hard to sum up Egypt in two words and that really says it all. It is a multitude of attacks on all the senses. Yet the exotic history, heat, passion and flare all give it a romanticism that entices you in. There is a saying once you have tasted the waters of the Nile you have to go back. Maybe, that is for the ‘foreigner’ but for the Egyptian, the corruption and disorder and preference for the outsider make it a very different reality.

Just like with these art works I could not choose which culture I prefer over the other. They both appeal to different sides of me. Perhaps two parts that reside in all of us. We can often choose to dig in our heels and defend what we first think to be our opinion about things. It’s often a good idea to check our thinking and question why we have that point of view.

Only then can we understand others but, not only that, we can understand ourselves.

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‘Defender’ side angle

 

 

The SHE behind SHENDI

Connections, Relationships

‘Family’

I started writing this blog post way back last year but struggled to finish it. So knowing it was International Woman’s day, Mother’s Day and apparently daughter’s week (who knew?) I thought it was a good deadline to get it finished.

At a BMX track a father of my son’s friend sat near by and we started talking about existentialism, materialism and child care. Interestingly his point of view was that in today’s day and age why should all the pressure by on the man to go out and work, and so there he was, at the bike track with his son, obviosuly doing his part of the child care.

My sister is a full time working mum as is my Mum, where as I don’t count myself as one despite going to our showroom and being involved in running our business every afternoon and also writing emails or bits of text here and there at any time of day for the sculpture side of things. I saw an Instagram a post about a woman who had a hesitancy to say ‘Stay-at home mom’ or heaven forbid ‘Housewife’ and yet in each and every situation there are so many variable and conditions that make each individual’s position unique. Many mothers don’t have a choice. Whilst this gentlemen offered his opinion, I sat, listened and nodded in agreement even adding the odd phrase in agreement. Later that evening I wondered why when someone offers an opinion we feel hesitant to say something different. Why do we feel the need to conform?

If I had had a bit more gumption I could have said that whilst times have changed, and we are no longer living in the 50’s where there wasn’t the choice as much- I personally don’t think that we have moved the movement forward. I think woman have shot themselves in the foot. We want it all and can’t have it. I listened to a video clip of a 5 year old little girl saying that boys and girls are the same. We all have the capabilities to do the same things and we should be treated equally. But, controversially, whilst I believe we are equal I don’t believe that men and woman are the same. We are different.

Cactus, Collage Collection

Every situation is different. For me, personally, if I was working part-time or full time with an employer and juggling motherhood I think my brain would explode. My natural disposition is to please and help and give 100 percent. I couldn’t do that to a career, my role as mother and as wife. Something would get lost in the equation. I read about the need for better child care provision so that working mothers can work. Whilst that may be the case and for those that need it and want it there does need to be better provision. However, for  a situation where a couple are both going out to work, for money so they can have a better house, better car, better clothes. The child is getting lost in the equation.

I am aware that I have been in a privileged, luxurious position of being able to be at home with the boys whilst they were small. When I looked back over my journal , I saw the pages where I was working out the cost effectiveness of me leaving work once my second child was born. It didn’t make any financial sense to carry on working and put my children in child care. Looking back though it isn’t the financial side of things that have been of any benefit. I did choose to sacrifice a career but it wasn’t really something I had striven for anyway.  I like the term ‘Homemaker’ when it comes to a title of being at home, the idea of making a home fits better than house wife, maybe?

Someone said to me about how great it was that my husband was achieving things with his art work. Ultimately it is his career and occasionally I see it as that but it has been such a joint ambition since the beginning, that it is my dream too. The 1940’s saying ‘behind every great man is a great woman’ is the observation that no man gets to be “great” in a vacuum, and some woman, somewhere, had a hand in the man’s success. I haven’t got the drive or determination to go out and ‘get’ like he has but I have got the patience, the strength, diligence and the influence to be the first three letters SHE behind the artist, SHENDI.

Mother and Child collection 2016

 

 

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.