‘Seasons’ in South Africa

At the beginning of the year my husband took a trip to Johannesburg to check out a gallery there which was interested in his work. His trip turned into his usual adventure with tales to tell and amusing anecdotes to recount. Excitingly though he was really impressed by the space and what the gallery could deliver.

So began the next process of getting the sculptures ready and wrapped. Arranging meetings with the shipping company and which sculptures were going on the voyage. It was almost a huge relief when they left the studio revealing again space to start creating again.

The pieces looked like Christo’s work, wrapped and draped:

Packaged and ready (2017)

So I think a total of 24 sculptures and a sketch book to be framed and mounted were all at sea for the last month. Now the anticipation is of them arriving safely from Durban  travelling to Graham’s Gallery in Johannesburg for a large solo exhibition titled, ‘Seasons’. This is including the collections, ‘Mother and Child’, The Giants and the collection of heads.

His work explores the human condition and the human form, paring the visible shape down to it’s most minimal to describe the body as a simply a vessel which houses a shared human experience.

‘Seasons’ is a word I have only recently come across, being used as a term to describe the period of time we are in, not only the climatic shift from Winter into Spring. I am in a shifting season I think to match the time of year. Especially in motherhood do we experience extreme and often changing seasons but anyone experiences different times in their life and approaches to those moment. There is always the potential for change.

It seams a little surreal that this month on May 25th it will be the opening to his large solo show. There is still quite a lot of preparation to do before then and the sculptor will have to fly out before hand to check out each pieces do any necessary repairs and set up the exhibition. It’s going to be amazing to see such a collection in a professional space all together.

Repair kit (2017)

seasons poster

Advertisements

Take Five, ‘artists who have lit up the genre’. How one got there.

black-and-white-photo-exhibi
The gallery, The Civic, Mother and Child by Sam Shendi

It’s about 14 years since I met ‘the sculptor’ and although when I met him he wasn’t practising very much, he did an occasional clay sculpture but he was painting and drawing all the time, as that is what his space limited him to. Over the years as we increased our space his practice developed along with it. We had a fantastic attic flat for a year where lots of clay maquettes were made. When we bought our first house they survived the move and were all sat on a folding dining room table until one night we heard a crash and the table had collapsed along with probably 50 or so clay sculptures.

Just after I had our first child I was sat in the living room and the midwife came to visit,  3 clay heads lined up on the floor and she pointed to them and said that will have to stop. I never really understood what she meant. I was in the fog of being a new mum. I hope she meant that we would have to stop putting them on the floor and that she didn’t mean to stop the practice.

We did stop putting them on the floor but the studio then was a tiny shed in our yard until about perhaps 4 years ago – I’ve lost count, when we finally got a studio space and this was pivotal in the development of his work.

In January I will have been online with this blog for 6 years and this is my 250th post. And in this time we have come so far. On Saturday in the weekend Yorkshire post, we were so excited to see this:

take-5
Saturday 26th November, Yorkshire Post Magazine

 

To be listed alongside Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore is a dream come true. We are lucky in Yorkshire to have had these two greats among our history, heritage and it is quite almost unbelievable to be seeing ‘the sculptor’s’ name in a top 5 list with them. From my point of view, it is so deserving and so true.

It is great publicity for our other achievement, a solo show opening at The Civic in Barnsley. Yesterday my husband and the team at the gallery set up and it’s all ready for the private view on Friday evening and the show runs until January 28th 2017. The photos he took of the set up look stunning. The exhibition is entitled Mother and Child and it was interesting looking back and my first three blog entries all of mother and child pieces. Mother and Child is an endless subject and timeless. This exhibition at The Civic is very much about storytelling.

mother-and-child-collection

‘The colour blue is prevalent throughout the collection, and is used in a way that it respectfully represents the struggles which go with motherhood; the depression, the sleepless nights, the fear of losing the child, the back pain, the swollen feet, the pain of giving birth and going beyond one’s own comfort, the sacrifice.

It seems ironic that the journey we have taken in developing the sculptor’s success into the art world mirrors my own journey as a mother. When I look at these pieces they are monuments of the last 10 years of motherhood for me. But they are everyone. They will touch and impact on anyone who sees them. They are a reminder of the truth, motherhood is one of the greatest and unrecognised and often under appreciated roles on earth.

If you are in Yorkshire anytime from  3rd to January 28th I would recommend a visit to The Civic. Open Tuesday -Saturday, 10am- 5pm.

Words and one picture

I didn’t think it through, how I was going to write 1600 plus words a day #nanowrimo as well as everything else that needs to be done. I am writing everyday though and that is itself a huge milestone. I am averaging about 1400 words each day. So I have just gone over the half way point writing 25 thousand words in 18 days. Sometimes it’s important to focus on what has been done, achieved than what hasn’t been done. It’s a good lesson to learn.

I have neglected this blog a little though, which I had thought might happen. It is a little unfortunate timing when we are about to have the first major solo show in Munich starting next week.

So the sculptor is also whizzing around, trying to tie up loose ends here with the business and then packing everything he needs for next week. Approximately 57 pieces will be packed into the van on before it goes over land and sea. The work gets loaded on Friday and the sculptor flies on Saturday. I am just praying the rain and wind will cease, a little at least.  Again at each milestone we achieve with promoting the sculpture it’s important to remember just how far we have come.

Will aim to keep a little track of what will be happening in Germany next week (just to add to my to do list!)

poster solo

‘Can’t see the wood for the trees’

 

studio 3
‘The Studio’
studio busy
‘Getting Ready’
studio image
Not much space left…

The studio is full, not much space to move around. Whilst those around us have taken vacations we have stayed put and created, flown kites and played on the bikes.

I had a rare day today, I went to our business and my husband had the boys, ‘Freaky Friday’ I was calling it, like the film but it wasn’t at all Freaky. It was great.  I did some lovely peaceful things and then returned home and took the boys to the park and it was such a different experience with fresh eyes. (I wonder what I would be like after a week!)

It made me think about something I listened to recently about, the importance of seeing the forest before going in and deciphering the conifers, the elms, the oaks…. I don’t think it is entirely possible to do that in parenting but having a little ‘break away’ meant today I came back with renewed patience and could somehow deal with both boys individually rather than ‘the boys’. I enjoyed them in the moment as children.

In parallel and more to the point the studio is full with all the pieces ready for a photo shoot tomorrow. The decision process about what goes in and stays out of the solo exhibition will then begin. My husband was saying yesterday that he can visualise the exhibition space, he can see the sculptures in it. He just can’t see which ones they are. Some how he needs to be able to break away from it, to stand back and see the ‘wood from the trees’.

PS. Just literally had a very ‘freaky’ moment, where after explaining to my husband the meaning of my ‘post title’ as I am finishing up writing this the film in the background my husband is watching I just heard the line, “forest from the trees, forest from the trees’.

‘From Donald Winnicott to the naughty step’

‘The mother, ready for paint’
'head in colour'
‘head in colour’
'in colour'
‘in colour’
'from the side'
‘from the side’
'The child'
‘The child’
'In colour'
‘In colour’
'Mother and child' ready for polishing
‘Mother and child’ ready for polishing
'Mother and child'
‘Mother and child’
'Mother an Child' in the studio
‘Mother an Child’ in the studio


‘From Donald Winnicott to the naughty step’ was broadcasting as I drove home last night from meeting up with a group of friends I hadn’t seen in a while. The night sky was still light so it was a lovely spring evening drive back and I found this fascinating and felt in total agreement with what was being discussed. “Seventy years ago the psychoanalyst and parenting expert Donald Winnicott first broadcast his idea of the ‘good-enough mother’; the mother who wasn’t perfect and was free, to some extent, to fail. From 1943-1962 he gave some 50 BBC broadcasts. Aimed directly at mothers, they had a profound impact on popular ideas about motherhood.”

In tandem I was thinking about writing about the progress that was being made for the pieces for the solo exhibition as part of the FIRST@108 award. Up until now I have mostly written about finished works and only occasionally  the process but actually now there is a need to document the process running up to the exhibition in October. The first piece for the solo exhibition is a reoccurring theme both in colour and subject, as are the discussions like the one I was hearing on the radio about;

Mother and Child

Winnicott’s ideas seemed to fit perfectly with this piece, “the idea of the body as important and needing to be taking seriously in bodily complaint but also the part the mind has to play in organising those or influencing them or producing them.” In the sculpture we see the mother in pink but if we look closer there is a subtle difference between the ‘body’ and the ‘mind’.  The mother is facing the child, the indicators of eyes from the tiny holes suggest visual contact. So important in seeing the child from a psychological point of view as well as a bodily and physiological one.

It is one of the reasons I find it so easy to write about the sculptures my husband makes, in that they visual pictorial observations of human society, the human condition. Winntcott observed and was alert to the tiny signals, observation and listening to mothers and he documented this. It was almost mesmerizing listening to his strange dictation played back and it connects so well with this sculpture.

He spoke of the child being separated from the mother, “you are always an isolate, by the time he is born he has had experience both pleasant and unpleasant” which is visualised in this sculpture. The baby separated visually, literally from the mother yet fitting like a puzzle into one shape.. I can see this but I also think in the first three years there is a slow physical and mental detachment from the mother in to the ‘world’. The child in this piece also looks like a step, the naughty step we so often here spoken of today. Winnicott tells mothers to trust their instincts and I think in general I do. In some ways it is the only thing I am fully impassioned and feel confident about. It irritates me when that is thrown off-balance. That can so easily happen in today’s society where we have all kinds of information and view points being bombarded at us. The questions are the same now as to the time he was speaking, and we seem to be in a constant battle between those very strict methods and ideology  a pose to more gentle approaches which I would class his as.

There are lots of mothers out there writing about motherhood and here are three I picked out of a bunch;

http://haywardhelen.wordpress.com/

http://studiomothers.com/

http://rhythmofthehome.com/

I do think we live in a society which down plays the importance of the role of the mother. We seem to focus on the wrong aspects. I would highly recommend listening to the programme and see what you think. Either way, it is one of those subjects which is going to be endlessly discussed and analysed. Some people write about it, some people analyse it and some people depict it. This one is to be polish and put aside ready for exhibition in October.