This week has passed so quickly even the boys said it was a fast week. Yet, last night I was convinced it was Saturday today. Strange how that can have the affect of thinking you’ve lost something along the way. I haven’t quite finished my blog post intended for this week so will have to postpone that for next week. So just a brief and quick one to say after several months we finally have the new website finished. Please take a look.
I started writing this blog post way back last year but struggled to finish it. So knowing it was International Woman’s day, Mother’s Day and apparently daughter’s week (who knew?) I thought it was a good deadline to get it finished.
At a BMX track a father of my son’s friend sat near by and we started talking about existentialism, materialism and child care. Interestingly his point of view was that in today’s day and age why should all the pressure by on the man to go out and work, and so there he was, at the bike track with his son, obviosuly doing his part of the child care.
My sister is a full time working mum as is my Mum, where as I don’t count myself as one despite going to our showroom and being involved in running our business every afternoon and also writing emails or bits of text here and there at any time of day for the sculpture side of things. I saw an Instagram a post about a woman who had a hesitancy to say ‘Stay-at home mom’ or heaven forbid ‘Housewife’ and yet in each and every situation there are so many variable and conditions that make each individual’s position unique. Many mothers don’t have a choice. Whilst this gentlemen offered his opinion, I sat, listened and nodded in agreement even adding the odd phrase in agreement. Later that evening I wondered why when someone offers an opinion we feel hesitant to say something different. Why do we feel the need to conform?
If I had had a bit more gumption I could have said that whilst times have changed, and we are no longer living in the 50’s where there wasn’t the choice as much- I personally don’t think that we have moved the movement forward. I think woman have shot themselves in the foot. We want it all and can’t have it. I listened to a video clip of a 5 year old little girl saying that boys and girls are the same. We all have the capabilities to do the same things and we should be treated equally. But, controversially, whilst I believe we are equal I don’t believe that men and woman are the same. We are different.
Every situation is different. For me, personally, if I was working part-time or full time with an employer and juggling motherhood I think my brain would explode. My natural disposition is to please and help and give 100 percent. I couldn’t do that to a career, my role as mother and as wife. Something would get lost in the equation. I read about the need for better child care provision so that working mothers can work. Whilst that may be the case and for those that need it and want it there does need to be better provision. However, for a situation where a couple are both going out to work, for money so they can have a better house, better car, better clothes. The child is getting lost in the equation.
I am aware that I have been in a privileged, luxurious position of being able to be at home with the boys whilst they were small. When I looked back over my journal , I saw the pages where I was working out the cost effectiveness of me leaving work once my second child was born. It didn’t make any financial sense to carry on working and put my children in child care. Looking back though it isn’t the financial side of things that have been of any benefit. I did choose to sacrifice a career but it wasn’t really something I had striven for anyway. I like the term ‘Homemaker’ when it comes to a title of being at home, the idea of making a home fits better than house wife, maybe?
Someone said to me about how great it was that my husband was achieving things with his art work. Ultimately it is his career and occasionally I see it as that but it has been such a joint ambition since the beginning, that it is my dream too. The 1940’s saying ‘behind every great man is a great woman’ is the observation that no man gets to be “great” in a vacuum, and some woman, somewhere, had a hand in the man’s success. I haven’t got the drive or determination to go out and ‘get’ like he has but I have got the patience, the strength, diligence and the influence to be the first three letters SHE behind the artist, SHENDI.
‘A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.’ Charles R. Swindoll
Having had half term inside I was looking forward to the approach of spring. Lighter evenings and sunnier days. We had a couple of sunny but chilly days but it was a tease. Now, we have been snowed in for three days. I have never seen it like this before and the wind has sculpted the snow into its own interesting patterns on the pavements and roof tops. It’s the deepest ever. The wind is speaking in howls and moans around our yard. The sculptor managed to walk to the studio and the boys and I braved the bitter blowing and took out the sledge. Warmed up with dairy free hot chocolate, the boys have been busy sculpting with filmo. The fruit bowl is depleated and the kitchen tap no longer working, the pipes are frozen. We have been creating meals from the ingredients we have left in the house. Using what we have.
When using tools the sculptor often uses what we have. Cheese graters have often gone missing from our kitchen. He has made his own hot wire from guitar strings. The anvil was a tool the sculptor frequently used at University.
For me I see this piece as a woman even though interestingly we had some feedback about how this body of work is very masculine and therefore not inclusive of the ‘Only Human’ title of the collection. This came about because this collection was made directly following the ‘Mother and Child’ collection which exhausted the female form. Also this collection was inspired from experience from the sculptor so had a male perspective. However, none of the pieces are overly masculine though more androgynous I think. So here she sits, submissive but strong. Tired but not weakened.
Anvils are ancient tools, at one time everyday tools but they have acquired symbolic meaning beyond their use as utilitarian objects. The Anvil creates new life, creates beginning and sends a message to spirit to be ready to start creation; a symbol of virtue, courage and strength. She is all female to me.
What a week. A week last Monday, it was the Sculptor’s birthday and the boys and I had made more of an effort than we usually do. The sculptor not normally keen on birthdays and I find it almost impossible to buy for him. The boys and I had remembered at a trip to the garden centre he had admired the bonsai trees and it makes sense, a living miniature tree to sculpt. So we had that to give and a lazily bought cake. We all woke up happy and ready for the half term week ahead.
However, on that Monday morning we got a call from Egypt to say my Father-in Law was in the hospital and it wasn’t good. We looked at flights. We waited. My husband kept trying to phone but, my sister-in-law, in the hospital sat by her Father’s bedside wasn’t able to get good reception. Their Father wasn’t conscious enough for my husband to have a conversation anyway. The sculptor phoned his brother in Oman. It was becoming clearer that my husband’s Father would unlikely survive the day.
He passed away, on his son’s birthday.
A rollercoaster of emotions.
The week became a strange one. Shock at the suddenness of it all. It was always a fear that there wouldn’t be enough time to get there. A stark reminder that you just don’t know when death will knock at your door. We reflected on the boys last seeing their Gedo (Arabic for Grandad). They brought down their diaries which he had written in 3 years ago and done a little drawing. We felt anger that we didn’t go in December as we had hoped to. Resolved, that is just wasn’t meant to be. The sculptor took time off. We closed the shop. We stayed in as the clouds wept rain in communal tears. We rested. Spent time with the boys. Talked about life, death and afterlife. Then I took them to my sister’s for a pre-planned weekend away before school started again. We left the sculptor to the studio, re-open the shop and have some time to himself.
We had lovely time in Sheffield and the sun came out to cheer us up. On the Sunday morning, we rose early to take my sister and nephew to the train station, for their half term was just beginning and they were heading south to visit other family members. The boys and I headed home, stopping off to visit Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP). The morning light was stunning in the serenely quiet landscape, as we were the first visitors to arrive. Always interesting to hear the boys, sons of a sculptor, talking about sculpture. James Turrell’s Skyspace ‘The Deer Shelter, is a place for quiet contemplation of what can go unnoticed, the heavens above’. We sat in the echoed chamber of empty space, eight feet below ground; we looked up to the new spring feeling sky. We questioned, what is sculpture? We discussed the materials and the process of casting.
I always get impressed when I see the scale of other sculptures in images, particularly of the YSP and despite visiting before this time I really noticed the quality of the material. In comparison, my husband’s work is such a perfect finish. He prides himself in the quality of his work. The colour, the shine, the surface, the smoothness. To the point you can not see, can not tell the hours of sanding, the hours of smoothing it down. The boys both said, ‘Baba is the best sculptor, his work should be here.” One day. We hope.
So we followed the arc of the weather, as all good Yorkshire folk do. From cold grey and weepy drizzle to signs of the new season. Spring is around the corner and an anticipation of a new tomorrow.
On Saturday in the early hours of the morning, the sculptor set off to take a number of sculptures down to St.Botolph’s building in Aldgate, London. It’s a long journey there and back in one day and it takes it out of him each time. The sculptures will be on display for 6 months and dominating the reception area of this modern building.
Some people use only their heads to plough on through, working hard, determined to make a difference. They use their heads for work. It’s quite appropriate then that this sits inside the reception for a Law firm.
It is easy to forget once they are inside an industrial building that these sculptures are all hand carved by my husband, it’s so ‘perfect’ looking, with today’s modern industry where things are moulded and formed by machines. My husband’s philosophy is that art should be beautiful, he has such skill with his hands and traditional sculpture methods which makes me believe he is one of the classic sculptors in our time and we are working to get him known for that. Behind each piece is a philosophy, a story.
The sculptures themsleves go on such a journey from creation, being in the studio, photo shoots and they look different being placed in the ‘outside world’ rather than being in the studio. These have had such a fantastic response on social media which affirms how these works should be out in the public arena wherever possible.
We are all on that journey. From the start, to where we will end up and how we will tunnel our way along. Laid back with no ambition? Meandering along life’s twists turns? Or like a hammer in a relentless and repetitive rhythm to achieve the end result. It is a journey in the making from creation to situation.
To go and view these pieces you can get in touch with info@ARTful.org.uk.
This piece could in some ways symbolise me, we all can relate to the position of not being able to make a choice when both options seem as bright and positive. How do we make that choice?
We can get stuck in the middle, in the dark black blue centre. Each pathway seeming viable and having pro’s. To be indecisive though can be paralysing and we live in a world with too much choice and a plethora of options. We have to get better at listening to our heart.
I used to get into this dilemma even at a place to eat when there is choice. I have found it so hard to make decisions but now, much better at listening to myself. I can see it in my eldest son too who finds it hard making a decision when faced with lots of options. We try to teach him that he needs to make a choice and then assess whether it was a good one or not for him so that next time it might be easier. My youngest son is more like the sculptor, some how has a stronger instinct on what they want whether out be right for them or not. A natural gut feeling. The sculptor has been using this expression a lot recent, in fact we had to it out from a video we have had recorded of his latest collection where he used it several time (video coming soon).
We are human, we can feel one thing in one moment and another in a next. We are human beings, full of contradictions. If we do spend time and connect, listen to what our inner voice is telling us then it can be a little bit easier to make a decision. Deep down we do know what we want. The noise and confusion of life sometimes cloaks us in a veil of insecurity about the direction we need to follow.
This piece is very much like a yoga pose, in fact a lot of the sculptures could almost be yoga positions. I have just come to the end of a 30 day yoga journey with Yoga with Adriene. Would highly recommend it for helping to connect with yourself and who you are. Ultimately this helps to make better choices, decisions more in keeping with our own path.
‘Empty Face’ sculpture by Sam Shendi 2017. Only Human collection.
I stand and remember
I call for you
to get closer
to find you
somewhere out there
in the vast
You have no face
I kneel and surrender
and get stronger
shed all I desire
leave what most would chase
the human race.
This piece is classy and humorous at the same time, I think. The concept is the idea that people can use other people as ‘stepping stones’ to get ahead.
We had been so hopeful at the end of 2017 that a commission work could be a ‘stepping stone’ for progression and it felt a huge blow that we were unsuccessful. I recently read that, ‘the gift of disappointment is to bring us into reality so we don’t get stuck in the realm of how things might have been”. It was really a learning curve for us both, whilst my husband had the expectation of how life would be as a consequence he also has the ability to quickly move on and is undeterred. On the other hand, I don’t have the same future vision but I find it much harder to remain so positive and inspired after experiencing that kind of disappointment. Perhaps because I am the ‘supporting’ artist rather than the lead character in this quest of ours. I was thinking that this piece is very symbolic of the issue within the movie world at the moment.
The recent outing of men abusing their position to allow woman to get ahead or prevent them from doing so in films. My husband thinks the whole industry is built on it and so how can it really change or be made into anything with ‘morals’. However, it highlights the point about how people can abuse their position, these men are powerful and can influence and have the ability to make or break the careers of aspiring filmmakers and artists, particularly young women who are trying to make their way in the industry.
But this piece doesn’t just need to represent woman. It could be the idea of parents pushing their children as a ‘stepping stone’ towards something or colleagues competing between each other for a promotion, governments using people as a stepping stone to push through policies. This is a visual story of the way people use others to move their own lives forward and use the shoulders of someone else to get ahead.
2017 began literally with a disappointing New Year’s Eve event for the sculptor followed with tragic news in the first week of January. I am ending the year with a cold-flu-cough that has lasted near on three weeks and a year which has flown by without a sense of much achieved personally. It has in all been a strange year, one where I have discovered things which I am hoping will steer me into a clearer direction in the new year. So I am starting 2018 with a totally new approach. Goal setting, time planning and organisation. Looking into 2018 with hope and my focus word for the year; Purposeful.
Each year I think I have been looking forward but staying in exactly the same spot. Cue sculpture,’Moving Forward’, similar to the last sculpture I wrote about ‘Awkward’, somehow defies gravity and plays with it so that you think it might fall. Yet stable and unmoving, we can be like this, think we are progressing when really we a stuck in exactly the same place.
Despite feeling unhealthy and a little bit overwhelmed at how little I have done over the last few weeks I am determined not to let that affect my resolve to achieving my goals. I am hopeful that setting goals will be more purposeful than a resolution.
Let us all make 2018 a year of change, progression and moving forward. Wishing you a happy and purposeful 2018.
This piece sums up my three Shendi boys who all have tendencies to lean towards being awkward rather than compliant. I think I am compliant. So why am I surrounded by the ‘awkward’? But when does awkward become just being yourself? Should we have to tip ourselves towards someone else’s preference just to make things easier or more comfortable for ourselves or for them?.
My husband made this piece in the knowledge that he can be awkward. Meaning that he has very clear ideas, things are nearly always black and white to him. Often that doesn’t always fit in with those around you. In some ways that is easy to deal with, you know where you are or what a person’s preferences are. Sometimes it is just difficult. The piece itself looks difficult, defining gravity it makes you feel a little bit awkward looking at it. Yet it is still stunning and the fact that it does balance is the genius of the sculptor. I guess being awkward has it’s trade offs.
If you are easy either way about something it can be more straightforward to fit in with those around you but you can easily then drift along not really doing what you really want to do. As you can tell I have no black and white idea on which is the better way to be. Perhaps, that ultimately is the point. We should be more accepting of others opinions, ideas and view points without having to have them agree with us in order to get along. I have found this very interesting in living with someone who often has a very different viewpoint from myself. Either because he does or he’s just being awkward!