This has been months in the making and just the first half of a short film about how my husband views imagination. The second half will go into more depth about how his imagination as an artist/sculptor works. Take a look and let us know what you think!
Each afternoon this half term week, I have been in the shop which on these bizarrely warm February days has felt a little frustrating. This time last year we were deep in snow and forecasts do say snow is still on the way. As much as the sunshine has been lovely it is a concern that the seasons seem upside down. We are seeing the affects of climate change first hand. Temperatures slowly rising is not a good sign.
The eldest had his first gig last Friday evening which was amazing to watch. It was surreal to see him very relaxed and easily able to perform in front of a small crowd. He currently practises on an electric guitar at home and when he rehearsed at school one of their bass guitars. So, he desperately wanted to visit the guitar shop this week and look at a bass guitar. It was an interesting lesson for him to look and not purchase. He didn’t want to leave the shop. Teaching him patience.
The youngest had a flurry of football related activities to start the week off school which I had thought would help the arrangements for child care but actually just added in the complication of getting him to and from each day. Ambitious and anxious to do well in anything physical, he overcame his first day nerves and enjoyed three days of soccer in the sun.
I feel like the last remaining grains of our Egyptian holiday have finally disappeared and I am fully back into the routines and rhythms of daily life. Half term was needed simply to break the rhythm. However, it isn’t a break. Logistically more complicated almost but we have had sunshine! When it is good weather I have a compulsive urge to be out in it. I think, because there is never any consistency to the weather in this country.
I realise I live with an artist, a musician and a sportsman in my tribe, all with the temperaments to match. Which I joke, is why I did a Psychology degree, to be able to manage all these personalities. Having said that, I maybe the most temperamental one, my own mood was drastically affected by the moon last week which I have never felt such a connection to before. I do think the elements, the seasons, the weather affect us. What do you think?
I am attempting to make little changes at home, using refills for washing liquid, washing powered, hand soap. Trying to buy things without plastic but I wonder sometimes how this helps. There is so much more I could do but it is hard to be consistent and to keep on top of. Do you refuse, reuse, renew, recycle? We were clearing out the shed and tidying up the back yard last weekend and my fantastic, not so long ago purchased, glass water bottle, was left by me in a place which was perhaps precarious. Despite it’s rather sculptural silicone wrap, landing on the concrete slab yard meant it smashed into several pieces. I was rather upset about it for numerous reasons. Of course all my boys seem to think that if it had been plastic it would have been better!
We are awaiting several projects in the pipeline and so it is a matter of waiting to see what will happen. So the sculptor is slightly in limbo waiting and with one of his metal pieces needing lots of sanding time he has set to work on a collection called, ‘Broken Clouds’. Going to collect the eldest from the studio who has been helping the sculptor in the afternoon has meant I have seen the progress of this new creation. It has been more of an experimental one but also a return to resin again which the sculptor had decided to stop. You can almost smell the toxicity in the air on approaching the studio. I now understand why the sculptor is concerned about his health. I think the studio is probably the antithesis of my approach to our home.
I like this collective title ‘Broken Clouds’ as it links to our current concern with climate change but perhaps also a connection to ourselves. Is the weather reflecting society. Is everything broken? I don’t often think too far in the future but when I consider what the world might be like when my boys are adults and for future generations, I do hope we can start to fix things. I believe it all starts with us. We have to be the one making the change.
“The greatest threat to our planet
is the belief that someone else will save it”, Robert Swan.
This week has been an extra busy one. A trip to London for the sculptor, there and back in a night and day with no sleep. The sculptures looking fantastic in 99 Bishopgate, London. A Yorkshire cross-country event, where a select few get medals but the completion of the course is a success unto itself, and Young Voices in Manchester arena for the youngest and I. Where singers stood on stage and talked about it being their childhood dream. Behind them the 6,000 strong children’s choir of which maybe a handful will become singers. We also had various mundane doctors and dentist appointments for us all to juggle in through the mix.
It was also my husband’s birthday though sadly the anniversary of his Father’s passing one year ago on the same day. With that and recovering from toothache, the reality of turning another year older was not such a celebration.
Apparently moments after his birth, his father ran with the newborn baby to his parents village to show off proudly the baby boy. My husband grew up in a small village on the Nile delta more than 120 kilometers from Cairo. Born in the 1970’s the landscape was very different to it is today, more fields more open space. He also had a few years of his childhood in Saudi Arabia and Yemen with a mix of family memebers, very opposing experiences in each country. So his whole childhood wasn’t centred in Egypt and wasn’t an easy one. It was almost a bit nomadic in some ways and this, I think created a sort of detachment from people and objects a little. It gave him a self-reliance and a resilience, perhaps.
His life story is different from Salah’s (the Egyptian Liverpool player for those of you who may not know who I am talking about) who was born a number of years later into a modern generation but a comparable village on the Nile delta North of Cairo. Both seem to have a unique determination to succeed from a young age, although perhaps Salah knew his talent was football sooner than Shendi realised it was sculpting. Despite different pursuits they both had a dream and a remarkable journey in pursuing it.
Of course, the fickle footballing world has made Salah’s story that much more accessible than that of my husband’s. Already in a book form suitable for young readers, I have been reading about the young footballer to my youngest son which has been inspiring but brought home the similarity of their roots. The speed to which Salah has gained notoriety is a bit different though. An artists pathway more slow and steady but with the advantage of having a potentially longer career span. My husband gets frustrated that footballers get so much attention and followers and that we become tribal when supporting football teams. He still enjoyed watching the Liverpool matches with us when we were in Egypt though!
Art and football are two antipodal worlds. However, I do think sometimes sport can become an art. Our youngest son loves them both When he doesn’t want to be a professional footballer he wants to be a fashion designer and consequently Shendi and Salah are both his heroes at the moment. Obviously as his Mother I believe he can do either and I want him to be aspirational. But realistically both are reknowned endeavours which require raw talent, experience and a lot of luck.
It is interesting to me, that what seems to define success at the moment and how the world tends to view success is in terms of material wealth, career and salary. I feel there are more important routes to follow than a material one. People seem very quick to drop their dreams for a security blanket of a job which will enable them to buy the house, the car, the holiday.
Yet if Shendi and Salah can rise up into the art and sporting worlds from small villages in Egypt, overcoming all kinds of obstacles along the way, then it feels like anything is possible. However, one of my favourite quotes from a Disney film is, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere”. Having the talent at something has to be a starting point. At what point do these dreams become realised and when is it deemed a success. Why do we love success?
With my eldest I have been reading a book about people who have overcome and endured hardships yet become successful. The message being that failing and flopping is the most important part of succeeding.
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people
into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates
I think that it more obvious when you lose in sport but maybe easier to get back up again but can you ever fail? In Art it is vague in both being successful and knowing when you’ve lost. It seems to me more of a case of enduring the rises and falls but remaining focused on the direction of the dream. This image below captures so well, ‘Get your dream’, which is perhaps a better way of being successful.
My Dad gave me a brilliant article titled, “When does art become art?” by John-Paul Stonard. Stonard argues that when we look at art “we depend overwhelmingly on the presence of the artist’s name”. Is it the ‘art’ that makes the artists rather than the other way around? “We take the thing we are looking at as ‘art’ because we have been told that it has been made by an artist”.
But what makes an artist an artist?
Micheal Craig Martin’s theory is, “As soon as you make a piece of art, you’re an artist”. You can only emerge in the art world as an artist if the work of art gives credit to the master. So the artwork has to be of a standard or quality? However, I am not sure we see that so much nowadays. It is not always about a thing of beauty. For my husband the idea that if you make art you are an artist doesn’t feel right. His idea is that to be an artist it is a level that you achieve when you combine, creativity, ideas and natural talent along with years of practise. My husband’s opinion is that:
“Art is like a world in a different galaxy, you have to travel for years to get to it and when you arrive anything you create becomes art”.
His answer to the question ‘What is sculpture?’ is that it sculpture is a statement which shares the space with the viewer. It isn’t alive but it is a strong element or subject.
An old colleague of mine, having seen my endless Instagram stories about, ‘what is sculpture’ sent me a message saying his University tutor once said, “sculpture is the thing you bump into when you step back to look at painting”. Before meeting the sculptor I was always so much more interested in painting, I think for me art was painting. Where as now I feel there is something a little more sophisticated about sculpture. There is more of an avenue for abstraction and ambiguity. I was always interested in whether abstract art was a way forward or a dead-end? I think my opinion on that is ever-changing.
However, historically sculpture had more focus and attention. Monuments erected to dominate and display power and prowess. In the past, the Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans used their sculptures to connect people with gods. Sculptures were used to overpower people with the presence of three dimensional statues deemed to be a deity. Rulers had sculptures made of themselves. Sculpture was valued and therefore a method to mark out a society.
Duchamp changed the art world with his theory that the role of the viewer completed the work and created a total withdrawal from physically completing work. Heidegger in his ‘Origin of the Work of Art’ in 1935 argues that the artist remains inconsequential.
“Beginning with art, rather than the artist , returns to the poetry of art”
The Industrial Revolution changed the possibilities available to sculptors. Carving had always been the main skill perhaps where as now fabricating, assembling, combining together materials seem to all be sculptural qualities. After the rise of modernism, the artist became able to manufacture all sorts of materials for the production of sculpture. Duchamp’s radical gesture opened the doors to different ways of generating sculpture. But the lines are now blurred between art forms. What about the statement, ‘You can’t have art without a creator’? Studios in the sixties changed as the factory and fabricators started to be more involved. The removal of carving out your craft, chipping away at a material to create a figure was no longer the only means by which to produce form. So there isn’t just one person involved in the process but maybe just one person with the idea.
Other influences were nature and organic form on sculpture. Bio-morphism in art relates to the integration of natural and organic form into a work. These works sometimes look amorphous. Suddenly sculpture doesn’t have to be about form or focus on the human body. It opens up an avenue for a whole new exploration into shape, structure, space, line, dimensions.
I think if you look at a Shendi Sculpture, whether you understand it or not, it can be appreciated, observed and will stand the test of time. This is what I am unsure about with the more conceptual sculptures of today. In years to come will it still be able to exist without an ‘artist’ or ‘curator’ placing the ‘objects’ together in their ‘correct’ positions.
Is it all in the labels? Labels on the walls in the galleries, labels that we give people, labels that we give things. Lawerence Scott who was speaking on Russell Brand’s podcasts, Under the Skin last week touched on this idea of labelling and words. My interpretation of what was said, was that we label things in order to define them. Sometimes that definition packages things into boxes when the whole point is to try to think outside the box. Words sometimes are not quite enough to describe what we mean.
I asked our boys, “what is sculpture?” and the eldest replied, “it’s a man-made form which has meaning”. We have been discussing and questioning, as we constantly see new work, which we wonder whether fits in our 11 year olds definition.
Creativity today seems to come down to ideas and in the sculptural sense you can simply present an idea, which can then be classed as art. Classified as ‘art’, only if you are an established ‘artist’, of course.
I’m not sure whether there is any conclusion to this question, but endless opportunities for discussion and I guess that ultimately is the point of art.
We have been ‘Moon’ spotting over the last weeks as it has been noticeably spectacular. One evening last week when driving back from swimming lessons the moon appeared to be sat on the horizon with just the smallest of slithers glowing around the edge and yet you could still see the full outline of the full circle. It was magic.
When we were in Egypt we saw a huge reddish moon, large and low but it is tricky to get a good image of the moon. In the news this week apparently the Chinese have managed to grow a shoot on the moon. Not sure how true that is! Linking to the Chinese, the character for ‘moon’ is above and so is a three-dimensional sculptural version which is currently being exhibited with AN gallery, a Korean gallery at London Art Fair. Whilst the lines of the brush strokes almost correspond exactly to the coloured piping at this angle, the beauty of a sculptural form is that it can be viewed at many angles and creates a whole new perspective.
The colour positioning in this piece creates a pictorial view. A red moon, I think I questioned this before I saw the real deal by the red sea. Perhaps also representing the Japanese flag which also uses this moon character. A pink sky, a green tree, black earth. These colours are also deemed to be lucky colours in Chinese culture.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning or more like the middle of the night, the sculptor was up with his aches and pains and setting off with van and sculpture down to London Art Fair. This meant I had to take youngest child (who usually sleeps in) with me, to drop of eldest child, so to make it easier for breakfast, I put weetabix in a jar and we poured over the milk whilst we sat in the car park. One of my first jobs was to remember to pay for congestion charges for their drive through London.
By mid-morning I got a very quick snatched call from a panicked sculptor who said they had chipped sculpture on the way in and that the gallery who he is exhibiting with wasn’t on the ground floor. So the sculptor was stressed and then he had to dash. So I couldn’t concentrate on my invoice inputting…
The next call was to say he couldn’t check in to the hotel until 3pm and he was tripping and dripping and really wanted to sleep but had to look around the other stands.
I don’t often think ‘we’ titled a sculpture wrongly (the emphasis on the ‘we’ here) but I am starting to wonder whether we should have named this piece ‘Luna’, the Roman personification of the divine embodiment of the moon would link nicely with this still being seen as the outline of a figure.
The sculptor headed home yesterday on the train with lots of stories to tell me. An interesting meeting which I’m trying not to get too excited about as it’s early days and sometimes these things don’t happen. But positive thinking. London Art Fair continues until Sunday, if you are in London why not head to the business Centre (52 Upper Street, London) to check it out.
2019 is here and rolling and goodness, who knew how important having a holiday is?! I knew I needed one, as it had been eighteen months since a week in Scotland, and four years since a trip like this. However, it’s only on returning that I relish how divine it is to feel more relaxed and patient and how more easily available I am to take a deep breath. I am still in some hazy reality of not being ground down by the everyday shenanigans. I really want to try to remain and contain this slow pace and mellow state of moving and being.
We are warming up slowly to being back in the cold and cooler climates of Cowling (small village in Yorkshire, where we live) after spending a good two weeks in glorious sunshine and azure skies, although there was strong wind, this only assisted in our catamaran trip and land sailing activities. The other amazing thing was not thinking about what to cook and meal planning, I am still struggling with this. I ate too much delicious food including fresh fish caught by the boys.
We returned to Egypt, despite looking at other destinations. As the sculptor is Egyptian, we felt the boys needed to soak up some of the Egyptian sun and see the sculptor’s sisters. It was glorious to have the sculptor around for seventeen days without distractions of shop or studio. I think this is where a trip of this kind differs from a week in Scotland for us, as we have our own business we are still fitting kitchens throughout the year so the phone is almost certain to still be ringing. December allows us to completely close the shop.
(If you don’t already follow me on Instagram- thesculptorswife and you can see highlights of our trip away; lots of sea and sun).
So we started 2019 relaxed and ready. Last year my new year’s resolution was to set an intention. For 2018 it was ‘purpose’ which really helped me focus, regular blog writing, getting the house organised a bit better and planning out time more efficiently. All still work in progress but it enabled me to set goals and achieve.
This year’s word is ‘Active’. When my youngest son refused to race in a cross-country event, I had to dig deep and discover why I was so cross about it. I was the one that needed to move more. So this year I am determined to get back my love for being active. Although that focus is primarily about exercise it also encompasses being active here on this blog. It is nine years in the blogging coincidentally, I started ‘The Sculptor’s wife’ after a trip to Egypt with the purpose of writing about my husband’s art work whilst have two small children at home and pre-school. How quickly things change, the boys are so much bigger now and since I first started writing we now have the studio and have produced large-scale pieces of work which have been shipped worldwide.
I am also intending to be active about self-care and Yoga with adriene and the ‘Dedicate’ 30 day yoga journey has been a great start. Highly recommend! This image of the ‘Bow’ (above), to me is a great symbol of a balasana (child’s pose).
‘Active’ also means for me that we are active or proactive about getting the sculptures in exhibitions which is an area we need to develop and ultimately for my husband to be a full-time artist. That is the next big dream. I am not sure how that can happen this year but I read that when manifesting an idea you have to believe it is already so. Hence the image above which is a sculpture on location which is always so satisfying to see. So here we go.
We start next week by having a piece at London Art Fair. More about that next week.
Wishing you all a warm winter wonderland. I say this merrily as we are in Egypt for this holiday season 2018. Finishing off one of my best years in the sun! Thank you for reading and here’s hoping 2019 brings more sculptures, success and stories. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
On Monday evening my youngest and I went running with a running club. It wasn’t easy for me. However, it was a great start in my personal challenge of getting fit again. We were with a group of six children and in between relays, as it was such a clear night, I pointed out the plough to them. We probably could have seen many more constellations, I think Orion’s belt was even visible. It was amazing really and gave me a sneaky way of getting my breath back.
Constellations. Sam Shendi. 2018
Usually I wouldn’t post photos of the work in the studio without the white backdrop but this sculpture: ‘Constellations” didn’t get a chance of a photo shoot before she (I think she is totally feminine) was purchased by a private collector.
If you have only been interested in the Mercury in the new film Bohemian Rhapsody then you may not have realised that we have been in a Mercury retrograde which if I have followed it correctly basically means that three or four times a year Mercury passes earth in orbit and appears to stop and then spin backwards. Apparently this can cause communication crisis, frustrations and confusions. Usually I can be quite tapped into this kind of phenomenon but I don”t think I have been overly clumsy and frustrated. I think that just comes with the territory of being the mother of boys and naturally clumsy! However, this time is supposed be a good one for letting go of ways that no longer serve you and releasing troubled thoughts and bitter words. So let go.
It’s the season of the year for moons and stars. Hopefully all aligned again in time to welcome the winter solstice on the 21st.
“Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being” – Rumi.
Last night I was sandwiching together a ridiculous number of cakes to make a rainbow coloured stack and cutting up the most pink sparkly sugar filled rocky road. I sent my youngest off to school this morning with them all precariously balanced in a tin for the Christmas fair. I am not sure how they will survive, if they will look appetising or how they will be served.
However, in the middle of my cake art, the sculptor returned from the studio but quickly went back out for a photo shoot. Luckily the boys were very happy occupying themselves, as at the moment bedlam seems to occur at bedtime. The eldest was busy doing origami and the youngest creating his own floor pool game with golf balls and a long plastic stick from the axe, which was part of a Halloween costume. So everyone was being creative in their own way.
The sculptor said he’d stopped doing carving for several reasons but I knew it wouldn’t last long. A new collection called, ‘The philosophers’ has been created this last month. I love the white on white in this image, it is reminiscent of sculptural busts of old. Topped with pink like candy. I am not sure yet if each one has its own name but this one is very pensive to me. Sweet thoughts.
So wishing you a deep and meaningful December. I will leave you to ponder.
“Art is not about itself but the attention we bring to it”
Lucca Indracollo’s painting reminds me of a still shot from an Italian mafia movie. The figure, like a God father surrounded in mysterious, cloaking cloud. Powerful and yet with head tilted down and hands in a prayer like position there is an air of submission and of reverence, maybe regret or remorse. Despite the dark mood there is no fear or threat. Yet there is something devilishly handsome, as though he can raise his head up in a second and capture you with a captivating look. Perhaps this is all easy for me to write because the model for the painting, so realistically so, is my husband the sculptor. Lucca kindly sent us a photo of the painting that was in exhibition, Face Value, in London this past month. I obviously was captivated by it as, very excited we decided we had to have it. The sculptor is a bit unsure how it will be having a painting of him up on the wall but I really wanted it and well, at least there are no pineapples that’s all I can say. (See the portrait the sculptor did of me!)
So as I am writing this is the showroom on this grey, wet, miserable, cold Thursday afternoon the door squeaks open and a delivery guy walks in with a large box.
I immediately know what it is. Opening the box, which I tried to video for instagram footage was much trickier than I expected. Not quite possible to hold the camera and open a rather large parcel with only two hands. However, I unveil the beautiful paining which has arrived in perfect condition and completely stunning.
It’s amazing to see the oil up close, the application of the paint and just how much it looks like my husband. I told him, “I now have you immortalised”.