Hidden Symbols

collections, Colour, Exhibitions, Galleries

I am sat with a hot black coffee and some jammy figs trying to resist the urge to pick up the book I am currently reading. The problem I have with reading is that it is incapacitating, I don’t want to do anything else. This week however I am solely in charge of our business and the boys as the sculptor is in London at the Saatchi gallery with a solo booth at Start Art Fair.

This is a tick off the bucket list, although not a complete solo show in the entire space which would be the next step.

The pieces look something again in a totally white space and the advice of ‘less is more’ definitely paid off.

start art pieces

Sam Shendi, Start Art Fair 2018, Saatchi gallery, London.

When we look at art I wonder if we always want a quick fix, we want it to makes sense to us, to understand what we are looking at. Photography, painting and sculpture in the past always portrayed some kind of reality even if colours were at odds with the world around us or angles and lines in wrong places.

Someone interestingly asked the question whether my husband used the golden ratio in his work. With artists who have natural talent the rules are somehow embedded within their psyche they have a sense of why and what looks right. They aren’t necessarily following rules by prescription.  What they see makes sense aesthetically and their way of seeing and thinking is different.

These particular pieces maybe seen by some, as abstract forms, colourful piping for the playground or an object to lock your bike to. Shape or space. For the journey of sculpture it is about a three-dimensional form, how to visualise something from every possible angle. What inspires the form for my husband is all rooted in the human figure. The outline or the line that one would sketch becomes manipulated to show a position or body movement. If you look at some of Henry Moore’s abstract piece they look like pieces of vertebrae, focused on mass and volume. If we were to take the outline of those shapes we have these Shendi pieces. The negative space which the colourful line creates could be the sculpture. Or the line itself the sculpture which simultaneously casts a shadow also creating meaning and symbols. Hence, the name of these pieces: Hidden Symbols.

From this angle, the sculpture on the left shows the infinity symbol which becomes a very different shape looking at it from a different angle, an example of how we can all have alternate view points. The sculpture on the right could be a graph, a symbol of communicating information visually.

It is a journey to abstraction based on reality. In a world where we are over stimulated with reality, in the era of social media and screens of visual reality we no longer need to see sculptures of human bodies literally.

Art can take us into new ways of seeing, expand our ideas and if we sit down long enough, make us think for ourselves and use our own imaginations again.

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Began the summer with a battle, leaving it with love

Colour, Connections, Public Art

Six weeks at home, no holiday away and with the boys off school it has been an interesting challenge. The first week began with a sick bug that meant we started slow and weary but also with the surprise of my brother returning from Australia for three weeks. Well, it wasn’t a surprise for me. I had been keeping it a secret for almost six months from the boys, who were delighted to see their youthful Uncle for the first time in eighteen months. We celebrated his thirtieth and my youngest 8th birthday, had days in the park and the weather was good. Whilst these things were wonderful, the boys are I seemed in daily battles. When my brother came to leave it felt like a huge wrench and I think my tears at his departure were also at the remaining three weeks still left to entertain and occupy the boys which still seemed a huge amount of time.

the widow in dev square

‘The Widow’, Sam Shendi, Devonshire Square London

The sculptor meanwhile has been busy taking pieces to London for installation in Devonshire square which look fantastic. We are now starting to see photographs of them popping up on social media, finally out in the public realm where people can see them.

the bow in dev suqre

‘The Bow’, Sam Shendi, Devonshire square,London

woman in red hat in dev

The back of ‘The Woman in the Red Hat’ and the sculptor in conversation. Devonshire Square

Also in August a piece went to America which was fun and games with DHL, who failed to pick up and then it became a game of endless emails and organisation for it to finally be taken for air freight.  It still hasn’t arrived with the client as it has been stuck in customs. Fingers crossed, ‘The Branch’ will be at its new home soon.

the branch to USA

‘The Branch’, Sam Shendi

We had a visit from an Egyptian painter Nazir Tanbouli whose paintings are like  two dimensional stories and an attractive compliment to the sculptures of Shendi. I felt like I had two artist giants at the dinner table as I nervously prepared my roast lamb dinner. Conversation and discussions about the philosophy behind their work happened in a mix of English and Arabic. Tanbouli posed interesting questions to the boys about how it was having an artist for a father. I too, was put on the spot and fumbled for articulate answers as I juggled the vegetables and the gravy, the dis-advantage  of having the dining table in the kitchen. This is why I write I thought.

2 ARTISTS

Nazir Tanbouli & Sam Shendi in conversation at the studio. Summer 2018

Somehow we slipped into a better rhythm in the second half of the holidays and despite the weather being more temperamental our behaviours and emotions were more measured. I reflected that I envisaged some kind of ideal last holiday before secondary school for my eldest although I am not quite sure what that was. I aptly saw a quote from Anna Lewis, “I wanted you to have an amazing summer. I did because I was with you” which was a great reminder to me of my own intention to be more mindful about being present with the boys and that they won’t be this age again. It’s not always easy when it is every hour of the day for the whole of the holidays but I am grateful that as it ended I could see the positives and the privilege of being able to be at home with them  (ha!).

So now with three/four days back at school I am slowly recharging/recovering and preparing for next week when the sculptor is away for a week at Saatchi gallery with start art fair. This has preoccupied the sculptors mind this summer, preparing for it with work, words and worrying!

So we welcome September with the intention to get back to routine, writing and more blog posts and exciting developments to come.

End of a chapter

Mother and Child

 

 

It is our eldest’s last week, last day at primary school. Another chapter closes. I feel sadness that these days have passed so quickly, this academic year in particular and all the finalities that have occurred this week. However, I embrace the change that is to come with two schools, a change of after school routines and the life of secondary school. The youngest approaches his eighth birthday and I feel that also marks the end of the infant chapter.

Meanwhile, the sculptor has also decided to close the chapter on the hand carved figurative pieces. Advised that the more abstract minimal pieces are perhaps more unique and meet the demands of the art intellectual and philosophically minded.

I on the other hand feel I am opening chapters. I felt at the start of this year that 2018 would be a good one for me. Perhaps because the boys are reaching the ages of more independence and I can re-discover the things that makes the sculptor’s wife tick. I have been diligent about meeting goals I set at the beginning of the year. Half way through  reflecting that having a word for the year and goals has made such a difference. Maybe approaching the end of another decade assists in this new-found wisdom. I am mindful that I need to continue on with this through the 6 week summer holidays!

So I am re-posting images of Mother and child here to mark the end of these figurative collections and the end of this chapter of childhood.

Colours of the sun

collections, Egyptian

We seem to be racing to the end of term with school plays, world cup football matches (far too stressful), a few invoices to input for the business , re-starting a 6 week challenge and relentless sunshine and with all of that, I haven’t had much time or inclination to write. However, something in me has a strong sense of commitment to this self-imposed posting a blog entry on a Friday. Hoping I will be able to  keep it up over the summer holidays. We shall see.

The boys school play was Joseph and his technicolor dream-coat which because of the glorious weather was able to be performed outdoors. Colourful fabric was tied along the school fence. The last show, last swimming lessons, last trips. It marks the end of our eldest’s time through primary school. Have we seen the last of the sun? We certainly needed the rain today and a world cup final wasn’t meant to be. Making all the feel of being in a foreign country with a football team with a chance of winning the world cup a dream.

The twists and turns of life make it the interesting journey that it is. So in my interesting twist and a turn of a day, I could have made more links and references with a little more time but I am going to post this promptly .

Remember your hopes and dreams. They can still be a reality if you allow them to be.

For the story of these sculptures click on the link:   The Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti

4 colours and shendi

Sam Shendi with 4 of 8 pieces of the Forbidden Sculptures of Nefertiti collection

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.

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.

 

How to know reality?

Colour, Connections, Relationships, Soul searching

To follow last weeks post about the sculpture ‘Mademoiselle‘ and my memory of Paris, I will keep with the Paris theme. This week’s sculpture is The Woman in the Red Hat.

woman1

‘Woman in the Red Hat’, Sam Shendi 2017

 

Are Memories are identification? Our mind is made up of our thoughts and what we are thinking and believing.

When I was in Paris in February many years ago I was by myself. I wonder now if I had an image of Paris in the spring but it was really still winter and I didn’t have enough warm clothes with me. I rang my husband home in England who told me to go and purchase a jumper. I don’t know why that thought hadn’t occurred to me. Too often do I not realise that money is a tool to be used to our advantage. I am not sure I made a particularly good choice. Why didn’t I buy a lovely warm coat? Whatever money I had then or not doesn’t serve me now. So I came out of the shop with a rather thin pink hoodie and a brown skirt. I went into places to keep warm, museums, shops and boutiques. Bought some perfume and a pair of earrings. Took lots of photos and then decided to go to the hairdressers and dye my hair red. So with my splattering of French I communicated to the hairdresser who didn’t have much English that I wanted it short and red. I can visualise the small shop, myself sitting on the left hand side of the salon and there I spent a few warm hours and some more money. Back then I was young, had no responsibilities, no ties but I wasn’t as calm, content and settled as I am now.

Sometimes when we look at a snapshot in time we can project an idea, a thought, a reality that is or isn’t true. Today with all the social media tools and images people post we can start to easily believe that others have it easy, more care free, happier, better. Whatever. It can create jealousy, resentment, anger, mistrust.

It all begins with our own thinking. We make a moment, with what we think and feel at that point in time. Someone else’s photograph may capture smiles and sunshine but it doesn’t capture what that person is thinking and believing in that moment and it could be their version of hell.

Imagine a woman walking down the Champs Elysee in a red hat. Audrey Hepburn springs to mind. She walks confidently. Self assured. She knows what she wants and how to get it. Her mind is clear. She is free of all negative thoughts which could constrict her. She is free of worry or concern. Everything around her is there to serve her. She is happy and healthy. She wears her red hat unconcerned about what any one else thinks. She has black stilettos and a colourful dress which she choose that morning. She is going out for coffee and will probably have a croissant.  She is unconcerned about her appearance. She is happy with how she looks. She will sit at the cafe and read a while, watch the people walking past. She is happy to be alone. Alone with her thoughts. She questions constantly what she thinks and what she believes.