The human stepping stone

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‘Stepping Stone’ 2017 sculpture by Sam Shendi. Part of The Only Human Collection

This piece is classy and humorous at the same time, I think. The concept is the idea that people can use other people as ‘stepping stones’ to get ahead.

We had been so hopeful at the end of 2017 that a commission work could be a ‘stepping stone’ for progression and it felt a huge blow that we were unsuccessful. I recently read that, ‘the gift of disappointment is to bring us into reality so we don’t get stuck in the realm of how things might have been”. It was really a learning curve for us both, whilst my husband had the expectation of how life would be as a consequence he also has the ability to quickly move on and is undeterred. On the other hand, I don’t have the same future vision but I find it much harder to remain so positive and inspired after experiencing that kind of disappointment. Perhaps because I am the ‘supporting’ artist rather than the lead character in this quest of ours. I was thinking that this piece is very symbolic of the issue within the movie world at the moment.

The recent outing of men abusing their position to allow woman to get ahead or prevent them from doing so in films. My husband thinks the whole industry is built on it and so how can it really change or be made into anything with ‘morals’. However, it highlights the point about how people can abuse their position, these men are powerful and can influence and have the ability to make or break the careers of aspiring filmmakers and artists, particularly young women who are trying to make their way in the industry.

STEPPING STONE FRONT
I love the angle of this image, the piece does look more female, perhaps more vulnerable and the elongated head more like an Egyptian Queen.

 

But this piece doesn’t just need to represent woman. It could be the idea of parents pushing their children as a ‘stepping stone’ towards something or colleagues competing between each other for a promotion,  governments using people as a stepping stone to push through policies. This is a visual story of the way people use others to move their own lives forward and use the shoulders of someone else to get ahead.

sTEPPING STONE BACK

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Wrapping up 2017 and Moving Forward

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‘Moving Forward’ @Sam Shendi part of The Only Human Collection

2017 began literally with a disappointing New Year’s Eve event for the sculptor followed with tragic news in the first week of January. I am ending the year with a cold-flu-cough that has lasted near on three weeks and a year which has flown by without a sense of much achieved personally. It has in all been a strange year, one where I have discovered things which I am hoping will steer me into a clearer direction in the new year. So I am starting 2018 with a totally new approach. Goal setting, time planning and organisation. Looking into 2018 with hope and my focus word for the year; Purposeful.

Each year I think I have been looking forward but staying in exactly the same spot. Cue sculpture,’Moving Forward’, similar to  the last sculpture I wrote about ‘Awkward’, somehow defies gravity and plays with it so that you think it might fall. Yet stable and unmoving, we can be like this, think we are progressing when really we a stuck in exactly the same place.

Despite feeling unhealthy and a little bit overwhelmed at how little I have done over the last few weeks I am determined not to let that affect my resolve to achieving my goals. I am hopeful that setting goals will be more purposeful than a resolution.

Let us all make 2018 a year of change, progression and moving forward. Wishing you a happy and purposeful 2018.

That’s a bit awkward

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This piece sums up my three Shendi boys who all have tendencies to lean towards being awkward rather than compliant. I think I am compliant. So why am I surrounded by the ‘awkward’? But when does awkward become just being yourself? Should we have to tip ourselves towards someone else’s preference just to make things easier or more comfortable for ourselves or for them?.

My husband made this piece in the knowledge that he can be awkward. Meaning that he has very clear ideas, things are nearly always black and white to him. Often that doesn’t always fit in with those around you. In some ways that is easy to deal with, you know where you are or what a person’s preferences are. Sometimes it is just difficult. The piece itself looks difficult, defining gravity it makes you feel a little bit awkward looking at it. Yet it is still stunning and the fact that it does balance is the genius of the sculptor. I guess being awkward has it’s trade offs.

If you are easy either way about something it can be more straightforward to fit in with those around you but you can easily then drift along not really doing what you really want to do. As you can tell I have no black and white idea on which is the better way to be. Perhaps, that ultimately is the point. We should be more accepting of others opinions, ideas and view points without having to have them agree with us in order to get along. I have found this very interesting in living with someone who often has a very different viewpoint from myself. Either because he does or he’s just being awkward!

 

Collateral Beauty

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“Memories of my lost child” 2016. Sam Shendi

I have been struggling to write about this piece mainly because I have no experience of losing a child; for which I am thankful for. Nevertheless, it is my greatest fear and in some kind of cathartic practise when I embarked on writing a piece of fiction two years ago (which amounted in a huge number of words now sat festering in my computer’s memory) I made my central theme the idea of losing a child. With the idea of finding some sort of peace and resolve afterwards. However, I still feel a fraud and so perhaps that is why I can’t finish it.

Recently we watched a film, which reminded me that there is no original thought and my idea had almost already been explored-so good at making excuses. The film didn’t get good reviews but I loved it.  The idea of time, death and love personified. That our children come through us (I think that idea was probably taken from Gibran : see below) and that when someone dies, “be sure to notice the collateral beauty.”

On Children –Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Something traumatic in loosing someone through death, especially when they are young may take a lifetime to understand if ever. The concept of the film though is that in that dark and unhappy place there was still love. The beauty is that love continues even after and through death. Death reminds us that we need to be present in every moment because we have no control over our last.

I started to think of other meanings for this piece of work, not just “The memory of my lost child” to death but loosing a child just for a moment. I have experienced that and it is scary enough. It is hard to stop all the fears and worries that flood the mind. It led me to thinking about when parents feel they have lost their child to something else or someone else or somewhere else and how in the mind of the parent they think they have ‘lost’ their child. The complexity of the parent-child relationship is that they are so dependant on you and at each stage you are aware of them “moving away” becoming more independent. As a parent the need may seem to disappear but  the role changes and continually shifts.

The inspiration for this piece for my husband was a strong awareness of the impact the death of his cousin had on his Uncle. The story is tragic and traumatic causing a ripple within the family. This piece is a dedication of that event in my husband’s life but one that resonates with so many for their own individual reason.

However ‘whole’ you might appear the loss means there is always part of you missing. You are missing someone and that has an effect on your whole being.

lost child shafow

Fall.

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This is the first piece in the ‘Only Human‘ collection, ‘Falling into the past’, which looks a little like a yoga pose and one which is very good for opening up your heart space. Below the images shows the red section in that heart space area of the body. Sometimes we need to let go of whatever it is we are holding onto so tightly in order to feel lighter once again.

Fall, feels like such an Americanism but in recent years we have really started to use it here in the UK. I think it is the artists season, the colours, the light, the contrast and the imagery. I recently saw the quote that Autumn is, “natures way of showing is that we need to let go.” We do need to develop an art of letting go, materially and emotionally. It can be a real struggle, we hold on to things unnecessarily. The Buddha said, ‘the root of all suffering is attachment. We can attach ourselves to time, place, people, objects.

In my rough notes for writing this post I have ‘time travelling and Harry potter’ scribbled down which I am not quite sure where I was going with that. Probably something to do with finishing ‘The Cursed Child’ with my eldest which really used the idea of time travel and perhaps I had thought ‘Falling into the past’ had some connection but any deep meaning has escaped me.

This sculpture for me represents the feet firmly placed in the past, the head in the future. The heart space is in the here and now and there we can rest and let go.

Fall

Oh leaves

so gently falling,

drifting to the ground

whilst we stand firm

and dig in our heels,

so proud.

Let us look,

to nature

to learn what we are shown

that change is essential

to become fully grown

so let go 

let’s flow

as we become lighter

brighter 

new ideas are sown.

Oh leaves

so gently drifting

let us learn to be

like the autumn fall

new colours for all to see.

 

 

We are only human after all

Most of the work my husband sculpts forms part of a collection, a group of sculptures under the same title. The latest finished collection is, “Only Human”, born from ideas taken from human phrases. Phrases we use in conversation that has then shaped the form of these vessels. Human beings are fallible, we are not perfect and we can only strive for improving ourselves.  Always  makes me think of the song, “Human” by Rag’n’bone, as the boys did a Viking song based on the rhythm and we had the song going around our head constantly. ” We are only human after all, don’t put your blame on me.” Human beings are no longer a subject of focus on a daily basis and in many ways have become devalued. Alex Rodgers wrote a book with the same name about the current issues and problems young people face in today’s society.

Each sculpture is created as a human figure whilst simultaneously acting like a canvas which if stretched out would give you an abstract colourful painting, showing that emotion has a colourful impact on human energy and action. These pieces are a frozen body movement which has been shaped by the emotion to allow you to understand that each one of them is only a presentation of who you are. The colour e describes the emotion hidden within the piece and is a completion of the actual concept. Our emotions are so powerful, if we look back at the past mankind uses this emotion to direct not just thousands but millions.

All these pieces have been hand carved using various materials and then painted. Many people can have a create talent, they can draw, paint, take a photography or work with clay or wood. It is something again to bring something out from an imagination of an idea or concept and one in which you are telling a story. In an attempt to be more organised the next series of blog posts I will go through each one in turn, but for now you can think of your own  titles for the pieces.

Only Human. Sam Shendi. 2017.


Shendi sculptures are ‘essentialism’

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.

Getting back into a routine and flow

Apparently it is 2 months since I last posted and I have been very aware of that fact but I just haven’t been able to sit down and write. It was the summer months with the boys off school and other things seem to have taken over in my to-do list. So I have slowly been getting back into my routine but still need to be a bit more productive when it comes to blogging! I have been a little too preoccupied with Instagram which I have just discovered, although haven’t completely got my head around it yet. I have also done lots of interesting reading. In one book which I will relate to more in my next post (see getting a bit organised!) the chapter opening is entitled, ‘Flow. The Genius of Routine. Routine , in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition -W.H. Auden.  Although, generally my husband I would describe is not quite a creature of habit as am I but when it comes to the studio he definitely is in a routine and it pays off. Over the summer the following pieces went to new homes:

Defeated Butterflies, in his new home in Johannesburg
‘The Wedding Dress’ in her new home in Johannesburg

 

 

‘The King and Queen’, in their new home in SouthSea

‘Witnesses’ in the entrance to the Tennis Club in South-sea
Press Article in South Africa

 

Sky, Earth, Water

I have caught some beautiful days this summer. Wandering. Walking. Captivated by the clouds and flowers this year. Always looking up for some loftier inspiration. I dart around like the swallows in my pursuit for easier homemaking, exercise, minimising and reducing waste, writing and looking after our business and the boys. Reminded recently about the need to be grateful for the place where we are at, both  mentally and physically. I am fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world. Sometimes grounding ourself in the importance of seeing something through, brings us back to earth.

Sky Earth Water (2016)