The Sepia Woman – For National Poetry Day


Sleepless nights (2016) Sam Shendi

The Sepia Woman

I’m not an octopus, I’ve said it a thousand times

yet I often have one wrapped around me, I should have read the signs

as I’m sinking, dragging, sagging to the ocean floor.

I’m not an oyster tethered to its rock

though Cancarian I embrace a shell on my back

I chance direction from this, to that

Oh to be in the ocean blue,

blue is something I seem to do

to wear, to feel, to dream

of that independent creature swimming serene,

not on the ocean bed, scuttling

shy solitary cuttlefish,

this elegant creature with remarkable eyes

masking emotions on its rides,

blending in with the world around

spraying black ink

With its dark moods, a sombre cloud

 inky fish, this ink with which I write

and have now spilt, what a mess

I’m cross with myself but have to confess,

if it had been anyone else, how angry I’d have been

Yet, look now at what I have seen

the most beautiful free-flowing design has appeared,

So scrap all the rules and conformity

Patterns all rigid, perfection for normality

I’m messy, I’m inky, I’m free to be me

Now ink of sepia, you colour of brown

I wish you could photograph and capture my frown,

furrowed lines on my head, cross-examine

the state of the dye which has spread

blood like,

tea stained,

brown, black and blue,

used with creative spontaneity through


for writing, drawing, thinking in hue,

for colours is where attraction will lay,

with colours for moods, they change, react

to any words which others say.

So I create, I move, I dance with abandon

because I’m not an oyster afraid of the sand,

with a walrus near by and a carpenter to hand,

I’m not an octopus, I’ve said it a thousand times

yet I often have one wrapped around me, I should have read the signs

I am the cuttlefish, the sepia woman

writer of verse and a poet of rhymes.

T.Shendi 2016.


Adult Conversation (2016) Sam Shendi



The story of Atlas

collections, Connections, Public Art

The ancient Greeks told tales of giant beings called Titans. The sculptor and I might have been cleverer to call this collection The Titans but perhaps ‘The Giant collection ‘is more straightforward. One Titan’s name was Atlas, he was the leader in a war against Zeus, the sky and thunder-god Zeus. After the defeat of the titans Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of the earth and hold the heavens on his shoulders to prevent the earth and sky resuming their primordial embrace.



Greco Roman Statue

There has been a misconception that Atlas carries the world on his shoulders as classical sculpture often shows Atlas holding the celestial sphere but it has been misunderstood to be a globe. Atlas therefore embodies the celestial axis and is the personification of endurance as he was a sentence to hold up the sky for eternity.




In later myth he finally turns to stone and becomes what we know now as the Atlas Mountains. Around 500 years ago Mercator made a book of maps and named it an Atlas, Keeper of the World.

In classical European architecture an, ‘atlas’ is a support sculpted in the form of a man, which takes places of a column. Named ‘Atlantes’ these express extreme effort in their function. Head is often bent forward to support the weight of the structure above them across their shoulders.


Atlas (2016) Sam Shendi

Here, in this contemporary version of Atlas, Shendi depicts the head bent forward but in an almost ironic twist we see across this titan’s shoulders a collection of birds.

This sculpture depicts the notion that today we carry a weight on our shoulders, which often isn’t as heavy as we might believe. Most of humanity share similar experiences and memories that can weigh us down. The use of colour in this piece represents memories and emotions. The figure here represents us, the birds our problems, which have become larger than the reality of them.

Birds perched together decreases the risk of predators and they usually choose places to roost, which are safe. The size of this giant hasn’t prevented the birds from staying. We associate ‘giants’ with the idea that they have power or a physical presence over us. In this case the birds are the more empowered presence. Just as we can sometimes not shake off our worries or the past, this giant man is unable to shake off the birds.


“That great giant, Atlas, whose shoulders bear the circling sky.” Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 172. Birds often circle the sky following migratory patterns using the sun to navigate by day and the stellar compass at night which depends on the constellations. So they have a need for this ‘Atlas god of astronomy and navigation.

So this piece is heavy in it’s symbolism, rich in its references to classical art and architecture and also brings to modern society a philosophical idea and message that sometimes we need to let go of the heavy burden which weighs us down. Especially here in the ‘western’ world where our problems by comparison should be fleeting.

Sculptures taking flight

Philosophy, Public Art

I was driving the other day and saw a heron flying fairly high with great purpose away from the river running along my left side. It made me wonder where it was going, did it know where it was going?

Birds are featuring in the new Giant collection which my husband finished and already has taken down to London in one of his there and back in a day trips this weekend. On Friday they went to collect all the pieces from Doddington Hall in Lincoln and that was a full 12 hour day and then they were up at 4am to head down with these giants to Berkeley Square House. It took hours of driving and literally half an hour installation.  It would be great to see them flying through the air in hoists on helicopters like in Roald Dahl’s The BFG, that would save travel time! It’s great to get them straight out of the studio into a location though. These birds are not in flight though, they are perched on pieces which have great philosophy but before I get my head around the words, I will leave you to look at the images and decide for yourselves.


The Bird Whisperer (2016)


atlas-section Atlas (2016)


Photo Shoot at the studio


bsh In location


At Berkeley Square House, Mayfair


Ripe for rowing

Colour, Mother and Child

‘Ripe’, (2016) Sam Shendi

This was me 6 years ago ( well not quite) I’m a bit late posting, due to problems with my computer downloading images and being slow getting the words out! However, it’s enabled me to tie two themes together. My youngest sixth birthday was on Saturday and we watched the rowing and the woman’s eight win a silver medal.

In the last twenty years there has been huge developments in woman’s rowing, yesterday was a fantastic result. I sat and watched in remembrance of my days on the water at Durham and seeing Jess Eddie as a school girl rowing out of Durham’s ARC. Thinking of my good friend who made it to the Beijing Olympics and a former fellow high school student who was in the men’s eight. In the heptathalon, Jessica Ennis Hill proofed you can have a baby and come back to true athletic form. I am in awe of that. In the rowing and the athletics and for all the Olympic sports, there have been many comments about the sacrifice: the time away from family, the hours of training,  and that the moment of success which could so easily be snatched in the last second, out of the winning. Not usually decisive, I made that very clear conscious choice as I went down to London in pursuit of the rowing dream that I wasn’t going to be willing to sacrifice any more time for rowing. Four years had been enough for me.

Now as I watch my husband’s dedication, I again sit on the edge of that choice. My husband sacrifices for his art but it’s a different progress than the journey through a sporting one. For the sports person their window of opportunity is short and if added into that as a woman you have a child then the sacrifices are even greater. If you are pursuing any dream there has to be dedication and persistence and a choice of leading a life which is in pursuit of a goal.

There are sculptures of heavily pregnant woman but for me they are too realistic. Each blue circle on this piece represents a day of the pregnancy, the journey of the development. Perhaps too it can represent the sacrifice. Motherhood is the ultimate of that.


ripe 2

The poster

Exhibitions, Mother and Child

Photo shoot today at the studio, so more new images to post and work to write about, once they’ve been uploaded and edited. The ‘Mother and Child’ collection is almost finished and ready for a fantastic exhibition coming up in December.

The journey of motherhood parallels life, it has its ups and downs, highs and lows. My two boys are diverging in their affections of me at present. My youngest is smothering in his kisses and cuddles and albeit, a natural charmer, he is still at the age where he loves me to the moon and back. My eldest has hit the point where when I say “I love you” there is no more, ‘to infinity and beyond’, but a muffled “Okay” in response. It feels to early but I think, as a Cancerian I will need to manage cutting the invisible umbilical cord step by step, although it never feels gentle. The changes are strange, it’s hard to imagine that my youngest will ever start to detach himself from me. Perhaps, he won’t it’s just the nature of their characters or the eldest/youngest child difference. Each stage of mothering has the joys and the challenges. It’s the summer holiday ‘joy’ a the moment. I am deliberately having a positive mindset. Of course, they will never be theses ages again and their infancy is starting to seem like a dream.

I am so excited about this exhibition, still a little while off but time increasingly seems to pass with speed. Not only is this relatively local to us, the space will set off each piece and seeing them all together in a glorious collection will be amazing. Took time to get this poster right but well worth it.

exhibition poster

Sweets verses veggies, outdoor sculpture

Colour, Exhibitions
body l out

Body Language by Sam Shendi

body lang outside 2

Outside Doddington Hall, Lincoln

body lang outside

These images are ‘sweeeeet’. I love the contrast between the bright colours against the linear burnt brown building and neat grass. The piece really looks like candy cane. The colours remind me of the ice cream farm choices stacked in rows where you want to choose by colour not flavour. For example, my youngest requests, ‘the blue and pink’ one please. “But that is bubblegum flavour, are you really going to like it?” I ask. “No”,vigorously shaking his head and promptly chooses a white and brown one. Not so visually attractive.

So I am more and more conscious of how we crave the sweet stuff and then how we slump after it. I love the idea of healthy eating but find it so difficult to maintain whilst having two boys who are not as keen on the idea. Wonder if using my new spiralizer this summer, which will make colourful veggie noodles, will make them change their minds. My eldest is eager for me to try, I just hope all the fun is not in the turning but in the eating also. So lets take a healthier approach and say these sculptures look like natural growing veggies from the ground….just not sure about the blue!

PS. For those of you who think this is an abstract piece. Take another look. See, a head, a body and legs crossed over sitting on the lawn. Relaxing after a healthy spot of lunch in the garden.

Creativity, Imagination, Creation

Colour, Exhibitions, Mother and Child, Philosophy, Soul searching



‘Annunciation’ by Sam Shendi

This month has been our ‘retreat’, cyber hibernation and other withdrawals to create time for spiritual concentration. This has not left much room for words. I posted on Monday images only, partly because I so many photographs there was not much more space for letters. Also, my whole being has slowed down and no words were appearing. I was having a blank.

On my morning walk wearing my ridiculously large ‘insect like’ sunglasses to keep out the pollen, the clouds really caught my attention. Somehow the lenses were acting like a contrast heighten button so the voluminous cotton wool like clouds looked even more impressive. I was thinking about cotton wool and how the pads you can get don’t have the same aptness for thinking of a cloud. The poetic line, ‘wander lonely as a cloud’, wandered into my mind, however the sky today was far from the image of a lonely cloud. It was a gathering for a cloud event, like a stack of candy floss before the opening of a fair. It’s magic when you can see the clouds making a shape of something. This made me think of the sculpture and his talent for making shapes out of things. He said recently that he has no imagination but a storage unit of ideas. In interviews he is often asked the question, ‘Where do you get inspiration from?’ Living with him I can verify that there seems to be an endless supply to ideas. I have never known him to have to think of an idea or to have to search or research for inspiration. He never has a blank. Creativity sits in his mind like the clouds over Yorkshire.

Clouds move, sometimes you can see it slowly, sometimes fast but it is a rare thing to have a cloudless sky over our little village on the edge of the valley. In all this cloud contemplation, I noticed to the left it was a smattering of shades of grey where as to my right it was a different scene, pure blue burst appeared in patches hinting at the suggestion of blue skies behind. If you showed someone who had never seen the sky before my view to my left they would be surprised if you said sky is blue. Sky seems even more rarely these days to be blue here in the North of England. We know that beyond the clouds is a vast expanse of ‘blue’ that we can’t see. In each of the ten sculptures for the ‘Mother and Child’ exhibition the sculptor has used blue. Colour is the key to my husband’s sculptures. They don’t merely serve an aesthetic or decorative quality, they are the meaning behind the piece. The colour is crucial to the philosophy as well as adding a lusory quality.

Colour does evoke feelings and emotions. Why does a blue sky make us feel happier than a grey and white one? We often think that are emotions are influenced by external factors when actually it is more often our thoughts that create our feelings. We are often clouded, pardon the pun, in our vision by what we see before us and are unaware of the unseen, the design behind it all. Again thinking of the sky at night, I love it when it is clear and we can see a few of the twinkling stars. But when I look upwards and see just those few stars, I remember when I had the opportunity to camp in the Serengeti, many moons ago and the awe and wonder at the littering of lights above which was a huge realisation as to how much we aren’t always able to see.

As I spend this time in spiritual practise I focus on how all these marvellous signs in nature indicate to me a creator. I am acutely aware that we don’t all share this view. We were, ‘made in tribes so that we may learn from one another’. We just don’t tend to focus on the learning and veer more towards the misunderstanding. There are so many paths up the mountain and everyone takes their own time and twists off the path. For some, their view-point may be a bit like the grey cloudy sky. They may be faced with a sheer rock face with no possible foot holes so the view of the mountain is obscured and to them non-existent. As with viewing the sculptures, behind what lies in front of us there is often a deeper meaning.

‘Shelter’, a new piece in the Motherhood collection

collections, Mother and Child, Relationships
Shelter 7

‘Shelter’ by Sam Shendi

This is simply one of the most stunning pieces my husband has made, though I think that every time he finishes one.

In Maslow’s paper , ‘The Theory of Human Motivation” he proposed that healthy human beings have needs which he arranged in a hierarchy. Physiological and safety needs being at the bottom of the pyramid indicating more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs). If we think of those physiological and safety needs for a child as  breathing,  food and water, place to sleep, security of the family, health and place to live we might group that under a heading ‘Shelter’.

Shelter 1

A mother’s first instinct is to bring her child to her chest, cover them and protect them from the world around. A shelter is a building that provides cover. Some mothers in the world are looking after children with no building or structure to protect their offspring. Mothers are the only shelter. The curvature of this piece is as though the mother is moving her body to be a physical shelter.

Shelter 3

Shelter 8

The way the lights and the shadows fall enhance the beauty of this piece but the almost crumpled position of the woman’s body displays her potential discomfort, the sacrifice and the perseverance to keep the babe protected.

Where we are more fortunate to have those essentials of a roof over our heads with warmth and food, we start to shelter our children from the reality of the world around us. How much should we do that? Can children become over protected so much so that they can’t function in society because it is too harsh a reality. These questions are starting to whirl round my mind as my eldest, I am observing, is starting to leave those years of innocent childhood behind him. How do we persevere the innocence and wonder of those formative years without restricting all that the world offers. Should we shelter our children from the inevitability of the environment we live in today?

Shelter 9

Shelter 10

Pace and the art of being in the moment


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.

Making 4

‘Defeated’ in progress

Working on the Mother and Child collection in the studio

making 3 making 2 making 1

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.

storage 2


storage 1








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.

hp picture

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.

madame b2

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.

madame b

Kimono Section of ‘Madame Butterfly’