Shendi sculptures are ‘essentialism’

Making, Old Masters

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.

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Starting the year with serenity

Uncategorized

I always feel the December holidays are hibernation and a time for slowing down. I hit against it every year but this year was more resigning to it. However, 2017 has begun and already a week passed, time stops for no one.

It hasn’t been the best of starts to the year for one reason and another. Some trivial and some profound. Yet I am hopefully 2017 will be a good year.

Today the rain outside is relentless and as we drove to school this morning the eldest said it still felt dark. Here it is a gloomy dismal day and it though it doesn’t totally reflect my mood, there is a stillness needed.

So I post some stunning images in black and white, sombre and shadows and think about serenity.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr

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‘Hammer head’ in progress at the studio (2016)

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

History
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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:

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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.

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‘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.

Aim high, dream big, Go Global

Public Art
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‘The Bench’ in Lister Park, Bradford 2015

This morning the sculptor waits at the studio for a transport company coming to pick up ‘The Bench’ to take it to Manchester airport. Way back in March we got an email saying a client was interested in it and could it be ready quickly. So my husband went down to London, dismantled it from its site outside Canary Wharf, brought it back re-polished it and got it ready, made crates and then it sat in the studio waiting. Then we were told the client wanted to wait to June. So this is what sparked the desperate need for the storage unit.

‘The Bench’ was sat waiting in the storage unit and we began to think perhaps it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Then this Monday morning we got a call from Manchester airport to say they were coming to collect a package for Taiwan. My husband said, ‘Sorry, I don’t have anything going to Taiwan’. “Are you the artist, Sam Shendi,” they asked. For some reason, we thought it was going to USA, apparently not!. We are really going global! So yesterday my husband fixed more wheels to the bottom of the crates to enable him and the driver to carefully wheel it to the van. This was not without hiccup as he almost dropped it on himself, I was horrified to hear, as he recounted his tale of trying to lift them himself.

Last night, the sculptor starred out the window almost dumbstruck (and I say almost because those who know him will know this is quite impossible) by the thought his sculpture was going to the other side of the world. I am not sure what was going through his mind. It is a huge achievement, that’s for sure, but it still feels we are climbing a very huge mountain. This is just one peak on the journey.

My youngest son sometimes asks me if he thinks that one day he might be a professional footballer. Someone mentioned recently that it is such a small chance that a kid playing footy can make it. But then I think, his father came from a small village in the middle of Northern Egypt with all kinds of stories that you wouldn’t imagine that one day far from there he would be shipping a huge sculpture off to Taiwan , sold through Saatchi art. Aim high, dream big, I say.

Pace and the art of being in the moment

Making

I wasn’t so surprised to see it’s been 24 days since I last posted a blog. Time feels it is running faster and faster. My sister-in-law once told me “life is like a room, in one door, out the other.” The days at the moment seem to pass with increasing speed.

The speed at which something happens.s I seem to fail miserably at keeping up with any one challenge I am pleased that this blog is ticking a long. So I must keep it up. Along with all the other challenges I set myself.

The sculptor works daily and many of his Facebook comments remark about his process, his relentlessness, his speed and if or not he ever rests. I think he has a keen awareness that the physicality of his work may be that one day he will not be as able to work with the same energy.

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‘Defeated’ in progress

Working on the Mother and Child collection in the studio

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When I think about why I haven’t been writing, it’s because I have been reading and walking. All of which require a certain pace and both I do far to fast. On a family Sunday walk this weekend my husband told me slow down. I didn’t need to be walking so fast. I skim read because I want to get to the end of the story. I am highly aware at the moment that I am  rushing the children constantly with barking orders.

The mindful art of being in the moment is also the ability to slow down, to be present truly and focus on what you are doing in that moment.

On the other hand, my writing project has halted at the first hurdle of editing and ordering chapters. I dart around from one project to the other not yet finding a steady pace to it all. Despite the sculptor’s speed and seemingly unrelenting pace, he always has the ability to be in the moment. I think this is what gives him the ability to harness the imagination an creativity into the creation. I have just finished reading (too quickly) one of the most beautiful reads. A book which made me realise I need to slow down the moments, really understand what my, earlier in the year, daily yoga challenge was teaching about taking in a deep breath and changing pace.

Practicality and the art of tidying

Colour, Connections, Exhibitions, Galleries, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching

I have been itching, quite literally, as my eczema has been so bad but an investment in a pair of marigolds seems to be helping with the problem. Suggested by my husband, no problems only solutions. However, that was not my point. I have been desperate to carry on with my sorting and de-cluttering since the boys went back to school on Tuesday. I have been at the shop though, as ever practical, my husband ordered a storage unit for the side of the studio to put in work which is not in exhibition but finished so to create more space in the studio for creating. He has been impatiently wanting this solution for a while.

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He booked out a whole day to wait for the delivery, only to be told they couldn’t make it as they needed a special machine. They said they could bring it at 6pm so my husband waited until 7.30pm and it still didn’t arrive. 8am the following morning we received a call saying they were outside the studio. We both wonder why we are so excited about storage and tidying at the moment.

Today, the sculptor was up early (3.30am) again London bound as we have excitedly sold ‘Madame Butterfly’. Then he and his right hand man are heading on to deliver the remainder of the calligraphy collection to the Hannah Pescher sculpture gardens.

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Some of the calligraphy collection heading to Hannah Pescher

So I have been in the shop all week unable to carry on my house de-clutter project. However, since my last post which resonated with many people a dear friend pointed me in the direction of the KonMari method. So, I have had time this week to do a little research. The method has been created by a Japanese lady Marie Kondo.

Japan and all things Japanese are in my blood, it feels or has definitely have influenced the shaping of me in someway. When I was 18 I went to a small village to live and work in a Leonard Cheshire home. At that time I had only ever been to France and Holland, so the culture shock was huge but I embraced and enjoyed the deep and spiritual meaning which seeped into every aspect of the lifestyle and way of being.

This sculpture, ‘Madame Butterfly’ is the outline of a woman wearing a Kimono. A geisha girl. The opera is very much about the meeting of east and west and there is such contrast between the attitudes and styles of the western world and the eastern traditions. As in the simplicity I desire for the home, this style of the theme of work by husband is about stripping back the outline to the simplest form.

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Looking into Marie Kondo’s style and her art of tidying was a great reminder of the Japanese art of being and living. Something I have not been doing and not obviously picked up from my time in Japan as I looked last night at the disaster and disorganisation of my domain. So, eager to implement it, I ‘KonMari’ -ed my wardrobe which is where she suggests to start. With clothing. This seems where I have been going wrong. Starting with all my Japanese memorabilia, letters and souvenir boxes was too hard. I need to learn how to sense whether an item ‘Spark’s Joy’ or not. According to her, by the time I have worked through clothes, books, documents and miscellaneous only then can I tackle those things that have meaning.

In just two hours I folded my huge pile of clothes, origami style and feel instantly inspired. Today wearing a skirt I have never worn before, so much so that the boys were shocked this morning and wondered if I was taking them to school with it on. A skirt which I bought in Egypt when I was staying with my sister-in-law for an extended period of time during maternity leave. So immediately the item has a memory, a story attached to the item of clothing and in this case it spark’s joy. Although, I did have to negotiate the steps up to school a little bit unused to the length of dress.

In today’s busy, constant buying and consumer driven world we all seem to have a deep desire to get back to a more basic way of life. Once we have detached from the past we can focus on the here and now and have no fear of the future- this is the theory. Can we put it into practice?

As the sculptor parts with another sculpture to someone who has purchased it as an item which will hopefully spark joy for them, I wonder what to do with my treasured kimono? Defiantly not something practical to be wearing on the school run.

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Kimono Section of ‘Madame Butterfly’

Practice and the art of freeing ourselves from possessions

Making, Philosophy

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Many people I spoke to in March had a miserable month. With the change of the clocks, lighter evenings and daffodils and lambs appearing perhaps April will bring a solution, a peace and a resolve. Listening to the radio the other day, the broadcaster said she had observed as she got older she was acutely more aware of the seasonal change. Perhaps there is truth in that, as we grow older we become more in-tune with natures cycles and the awareness that everything perishes and then there is life. I can’t fully remember what and why I was telling the boys the other day, that sometimes we have tests or difficulties and then we meet people who are having greater tests and we are reminded and humbled into realising our own blessings.

I feel that too at the moment. I feel March was a testing month. I am constantly being reminded that I need to develop greater patience and calm. I think part of my personal turbulence has been to do with sorting out boxes from the attic in an attempt to de-clutter and make more space. It is a strange process and looking back at letters in boxes from as far back as 1986 re-lives a little of your own personal history and also reading others stories from past. I have come to realise with my husband’s wisdom; that the past is the past and no need to be relived. Inspired by an American guy who has just totally reduced his possessions to 111 that he is carrying on his back. I am determined to reduce the amount of ‘just stuff’ I have. Although, I am still unsure how to get rid of much of my memorabilia. How much do our possessions take over us?

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I usually only post images of finished works, yet sometimes I think it is good to see the process. This also is such a different technique but shows the skill of my husband’s hands. When I first saw this piece I said, it reminds me of William Tell. Who is William Tell, my husband asked. I couldn’t remember just the story of the boy with the apples on his head. So I did a little research. He was the archer and the boy his son. He was asked to bow down to the leader of the area and he refused. So he was asked to shoot one of his arrows through an apple positioned on top of his son’s head. He successfully shot the apple. The leader noticing a second arrow asked what it was for. Tell, said if he had missed and killed his son the second arrow was for the leader. The swiss fable became a story of liberty and freedom.

Sculpture 3As I try to free myself from my attachment to letters and souvenirs, I wonder how much possessions actually weighs us down, literally and metaphorically, some how. In general as  a society we seem to attach more sentimentality to our things now more than some people do to other people.

My husband generally purchases more than I do but he never gets attached to it. Even his work. This masterful sculpture looks like it should be cast in bronze or marble. He started talking about colouring it in ways that match his current work. For example, the entire piece gloss black with just the top of the apple in red, or different coloured sections on the head…..

However, these images are not only the process but now the memory. The piece no longer exists. ‘How could you do that,?’ I asked my husband, as he showed me images of the head looking like a claw had swiped through it. ‘It only took me a couple of hours to make, it’s a practice. Not something to remain’. He is also a bit wary of making realistic portraits. It looks like days, months of work but it isn’t for my husband. He is fast and precise. Making something ‘real’ looking isn’t what his current practise is about. This was just to keep his hands in clay, just a process. Practising.

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Wordless Wednesday and non-sculpture

Making
Dash

‘New studio helper,’ story to follow

An answer to Moore’s Daughter; ‘all is not lost, there is form in Shendi’

Mother and Child, Old Masters, Public Art
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‘Mother and Child’ by Sam Shendi 2015

Two people very independently but both very close and beautiful souls sent me the article in The Guardian which Mary Moore (Henry Moore’s Daughter) states that Hirst has sent art back by 100 years. Perhaps they could see that the article would interest me on a number of levels.

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Mother and Child, from the back

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‘Mother and child’

Exploring the human figure, shape and ‘finding freedom within form’ are the focus of much of both sculptor’s pieces. Observing the human condition, using the human figure, reclining or mothers and child a link of the source of inspiration. In fact some of the earlier work of my husband’s has a very Moore like quality to it. But, dare I say  I believe my husband’s work continues the line of work that Moore started.

It is all about seeing things within that form and from different angles. Looking at the images of this piece every angle in a digital images looks like a different image. Like Mary says about her father’s work, about ‘exploring the invented object’ in front of you.’ In a modern 21st century contemporary setting with the addition of colour and focus on outline in an attempt of abandoning form as a mass, my husband’s work takes it to the next stage in development, thought process or idea. Yes artists like Damien Hirst may be relying on the title and have put the form back in the frame. However, there is always a reaction and response within the art world. Laconic titles such as ‘Mother and Child’ which my husband uses harps back to old masters such as Moore, giving you an indication to the form but allowing you to use your own imagination and interpretation for the rest.

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Mother – in yellow and pink, Child – red and blue

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‘Mother and Child’

We have become a two-dimensional digital age , a world of flat screens and it is why education is increasingly important about shape and form. Otherwise these skills will be lost. It was so interesting reading what Moore’s Daughter said about her childhood with her father as a sculptor, playing with clay, thinking about thees qualities of light, shape and space. I observe the boys interaction and how they relate to their father, the sculptor in similar ways. Although this winter the studio has been a little out-of-bounds, we are all looking forward to the sunnier warmer days of playing round the studio. In the article which was highlighting the new exhibition of Henry Moore’s work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Moore said she hoped the show would encourage people “to explore what is in front of them with an open mind and in a fresh way, so that they might re-evaluate or see things that they have never seen, understand things they have never understood. I hope it generates excitement about sculpture.” I think my husband’s work is creating small slow ripple of excitement in the art world and I really hope one day we will be able to get his work into Yorkshire Sculpture park. Seeing Shendi alongside Moore, what a spectacular way of seeing sculpture that would be.

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The shadows create additional images

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‘Section of Mother and Child’

Creativity and the every day

Galleries, Mother and Child, Relationships

Imagine a bird trying to find flight in the wind, constantly flapping until it finds a pocket of smooth space where it can glide. That’s what I feel motherhood is like at the moment. I occasionally spot other mothers in the same flap and know that we are all in this together flying around trying to spread our wings. I have a few frenzied hours in the morning from waking until I drop the boys at school and then when I pick them up until bedtime.

Last week the sculptor took this freshly painted and slightly changed ‘Mother and Child’ piece down to Hay Hill Gallery, London. The other two in the collection both sold and sent to new homes.

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‘Mother and Child’ by Sam Shendi. Hay Hill Gallery, London.

 

 

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‘Mother and Child’ by Sam Shendi. Hay Hill Gallery London

These trips away mean I am managing the showroom and boys, school and home. Juggling the ball(s) and balancing them- aren’t we all. Last week the van broke down on the motorway (not really the fault of the van I might add) it was freezing snowy cold weather on the return journey so the pieces had arrived safely and thankfully he made it home with not too much delay.

With a renewed sense of calm after my weekend without the boys, yesterday after looking after the showroom I took the boys home and started making a healing chicken soup for the boys full of coughs and colds whilst they painted and created in the space around me. This prompting me to pull out all the craft books and papers which were looking a hideous mess in one of the kitchen cupboards out on to the floor. All this seemed manageable knowing the sculptor wouldn’t come back in and trip over it. However, in the middle of this organised chaos the sculptor calls having settled into his hotel room after a train journey which has taken him quite literally all day to get there. As he starts going into detail about the state of the wall papered ceiling and berating the interior decor, my youngest is sprinkling the glitter on the floor, the eldest making yet another animal from card and glue dribbling it all over the kitchen table (desperate measures to have a pet). I am trying to put the rice on the stove and I can feel my newly topped up patience from the weekend child free starting to boil over along with the soup.

After abandoning the kitchen for stories and bedtime I decide not to go back down and stay in the clam of my room. I read too late into the night, get disturbed by endless coughing and get up to see if child is ok, administer cough syrup and kisses. We all wake a little later than usual having had little sleep. I descending to the kitchen which now looks a little like my impression of the studio the day before and I wonder if we all are a little naturally inclined to be messy. Creativity and everyday life in such opposition to the fine finished forms of the sculptures now situated in this clinically neat business entrance where they were delivered last week.

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‘The Bow’ by Sam Shendi. 88 Wood Street.London

 

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‘Body Language’ by Sam Shendi. 88 Wood Street, London.