As the natural world around us is literally frozen today as I write, this last day of 2020. It as though time is suspended. So many things in life were suspended this year. Waiting.
As we straddle one year to the next I feel increasingly aware that time is really inconsequential and that we mark time, create time for plans and accruements that we have no guarantee for.
This is no different from how life has been before we have been faced with a reality this year that has taught us to slow down, reflect, hibernate. Here in the north of England we are deep in winter snow which mirrors that intense desire to curl up.
The global situation may seem desperate, bleak but if we focus on what is in front, what is within then we can uncover hope. As seasons change so can we, and unfurl into spring. For now we really have nothing more than the moment.
When I was in primary school, year two (although it wasn’t called that back then) we did some kind of medieval project and made wish bags. We had to write what we wished for and then seal them in these fabric bags. I wrote ‘horse’. I am not sure why, it is one of a few memories I have from being an infant, yet I didn’t go horse riding or really show any interest in horses I don’t think. Maybe, it was the era of ‘my little pony’- I don’t know. Not long before I had my own children boys I booked myself a lesson and even that memory seems very hazy but I was obviously allergic. When the boys were small I took them on a horse trek and walking beside them wasn’t the best idea, my eyes were itchy, I couldn’t stop sneezing. However, there is something about the horse that still appeals to me.
Meanwhile, over in Egypt my husband was growing up surrounded by animals and horses, mainly because of his grandfather. So riding was a past time of his. In many of the villages around his childhood home wedding celebrations would include a dancing horse. Not sure if the horses danced because of the rhythm of the music or they were trained to, either way, it was the sculptor’s favourite thing to watch.
The first lockdown this year resulted in the sculptor producing a collection of drawings, mainly of animals and amphibians. In this second lockdown the sculptor has been drawing horses. This is the story which inspired the collection.
Whilst at University the sculptor was living with other students, one was an interior designer. He asked one day if my husband would like to go horse riding with him. The sculptor promptly said yes and was instructed that they would be riding near to the pyramids at about four in the morning. The sculptor found this a strange time due to the darkness so asked why. His friend told him that there were some magnificent horses, not allowed out in public for the tourists to ride but kept in the stables.
The sculptor went with the interior designer to a very unusual place near the pyramids in the early hours before the dawn. They were the only people awake. The friend knocked on a seemingly random door. An old man opened, greeted the friend with familiarity saying, “the same horses”? The friend replied, “yes”.
After a short walk, a stable door was opened and there was the giant white horse, clearly not of an Arab bloodline. My husband had never seen something that large in his life. He fell in love immediately with grand horses. Not interested in speed but the idea of a creature so powerful with solid muscles cutting through the air with beauty and holding a dynamic gracefulness- perhaps this is the point of view of the sculptor. Always looking at shape and form.
The sculptor insisted on riding this grand horse despite it being the one for his friend. He observed his friend’s disappointment. The stable man stated that he wouldn’t be able to handle him and that the friend was used to riding him. As soon as my husband mounted the horse’s back, he reared up and tipped him off. It then took him a second or two from the shock and everyone laughing around him, for him to realise what had happened. He got up and got straight back on. Gently touching the mane he slowly built up speed upon the horse. Maybe the horse had wanted to send him a message that the horse was the one in control.
In the darkness of the night some how the desert was lit up by the stars, or the sparks from the friends horse running so fast ahead on the the stony ground. The great white horse got faster until it was as though the sculptor was no longer riding a horse. The horse was a soft gentle rocking chair. The sculptor was so confident as the cold breeze hit his face from the speed and yet he felt on top of a feather. At this point his hands let go, stretching out to his sides. For a brief moment he believed he was no longer on earth. Perhaps, floating between land and sky. He felt free.
Maybe the horse experienced it too. The horse and sculptor were one. It was an experience he will never forget.
In July, just after the first lockdown my family and I took a day trip to the east coast for a seaside excursion. As many others had also had the same idea, we tried to social distance on the beach. My mother who was recovering from a major operation was acutely aware of the many dogs barking. My brother, who’d recently returned from Australia because of our mum’s health and the world pandemic situation was loving observing the dog. He made quips about how great it would be to be one, have one, just generally loving the idea of dogs. Whilst I, on the other hand couldn’t think of anything worse. Mainly, I think because we got a little dog when the boys were still too small to assist in the responsibility of it all and it tipped me over the edge. However, even before that, the sculptor and I had a doberman for about 6 months until the sculptor was in a car crash and I was heavily pregnant. I managed a few months more but I think he was nine or ten months old, we made the sad decision to re-home, Troy (and he was our second doberman also but that’s a whole other story). So, for me I was never going to have a dog again. Tried and failed. I think for me there is a big fear of failure but I am learning late in life that failure is a very very important and crucial element to success. Also, I wonder if I was rather conscious of ‘what other people would think’, again, learning that my people-pleasing traits have down sides.
So, how by August did we end up with a six month old doberman pup? I am pretty sure it had something to do with the Harlequin collection which the sculptor created, made and completed during lockdown. A collection of five mystical, whimsical, imaginative creations. A product of the time we are in? A reflection of madness, mask wearing, dream like, bizarre fantastical creations. I have just featured Dream Catcher IV in this post as I think he was the culprit!
I certainly think the sculptor starting imagining having a creature wandering around along side him. The boys and their father have continually discussed when and how they would get a dog; breeds and training. I remained ever hopeful that this was just all creative talk! So when they proposed the idea in July I said a vehement ‘no’. I wasn’t on board. It didn’t seem to deter their plans. I felt immediate upset, that I was being put in this position. Felt that my opinions were not being heard. I felt overwhelming sadness which quickly turned to anger and then resentment. My youngest, in persuasion told me to “open my heart and take a leap of faith”. My eldest in consolation told me that they had heard my point of view but that didn’t necessarily mean I had to have it my way. This was an interesting learning curve for me about vocalising my opinion, being heard, being understood but not necessarily getting your own way or being ‘right’. Not that there was a right or wrong in this situation but it did feel like three against one!
So I did a lot of journaling. I took a 6 week meditation course. I breathed in and out. Try it! I learnt a lot. Perhaps, stemming right back to when I was nine years old, we moved house to a new county, started a new school, my brother was born and my dog died all in the space of about five months. Sometimes the way we look at life is governed by our early experiences which lie buried in the subconscious. “History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order & direction”, Bill Watterson
The doberman (who the boys had decided to name, Troy again) arrived very early Monday morning at the beginning of August he mirrored all of my emotions. Bewildered, confused, scared, tired, shocked, displaced and I watched and observed as my boys took on the challenge in excitement and lapped up the responsibility of having a very large pet. I left them to it. Dogs it would seem have different personalities and this new doberman just didn’t fit into the name of Troy, so we named him the name he’d arrived with with; Kalvin with a ‘K’. The appropriately named cartoon ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ by Bill Watterson, has many quotes that seem to fit my relationship journey with this dog, Kalvin.
I ticked along a little bit but then had a bit or a relapse. All the emotions came up again and I questioned the story. But we all have choices, in each moment. In decisions we make and emotions we choose to carry. We can either focus on dwelling in the past, or in an imagined future and over think or we can focus on acceptance and learn from any situation. In wasting time thinking about the what ifs and the whys we can often hinder our progress. Over analysing gets us nowhere. Srikumar Rao says, “Think of the universe as a benevolent parent. A child may want a tub of ice cream and marshmallows, but a wise parent will give it fruits and vegetables instead. That is not what the child wants, but it is what the child needs.”
So I focused on what I was being given. The positives were we had family days out in the summer days of August and September, we started going to bed earlier, getting up earlier and the boys have their own little independent time walking the dog together in the evenings.
Then, of course, one of the reasons I had not wanted to have a dog, came quickly round to see how well I could cope. My serving of vegetables ( not sure this analogy works with me as I love veg). Anyway, my husband’s exhibition in Egypt suddenly was able to go ahead with little lead time and he left for just over 2 weeks in October for, ‘Motherland’, which I have just written about.
The challenges we face in life are often our greatest teachers but it is so often hard to see it at the time. The two weeks for me felt like I regressed into survival mode. My first walks out alone with ‘the boys’ doberman’ were hesitant, I was nervous and I projected it. I kept explaining to other dog walkers that I was just looking after him whilst my husband was away. “I wondered, is it better to do the right thing and fail or is it better to do the wrong thing and succeed?” Bill Watterson
After Kalvin had arrived I was talking with another Mum at football who said they’d re-homed their first dog which made me realise that perhaps it is more common than I thought. We didn’t necessarily ‘fail’ at have a family pet the first time but the conditions weren’t right for us at that point in time and the personality of the dog we had hadn’t helped. I felt that by the end of intensive two weeks together that I grew in confidence and we are slowly becoming friends. However, I was shattered when the sculptor returned and was relieved. I continue to enjoy our autumnal walks and I try to relax watching the boys play and train their dog.
It can be hard as mothers to reclaim time for ourselves. A resurrection of remembering what makes us individual, aside from the role we play within the family, particularly as a mother but it is so important for identity and self-development, for ourselves and for our children. “We all have different desires and needs, but if we don’t discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled.” Unearthing why I didn’t want a dog enabled me to find what I did want. So many things but some of them include, freedom, nature and exercise and having a dog certainly encourages rather than prohibits all of that. So I am leaning towards the bright side. It’s a journey but such a good healing tool.
“You know what’ s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change but pretty soon….everything is different.”
Where can I begin? it has been half a year since I last wrote a blog post. Maybe I needed a blogging break. It’s certainly been a time of reflection, this entire year-an inward retreat, a refocusing on where and what we spend our time on, homeschooling and food shopping seemed to be a focus in Spring and suddenly we are heading into Winter.
When I began this blog ten years ago it was following a December trip to Egypt and the idea came to me whilst in Cairo; to document the journey of my husband’s sculptural creations. That first blog post was whilst our two boys were still babies and his studio was our back shed. In the last ten years his journey has grown immensely (along with the size of our boys!).
As I started jotting down ideas for this blog post the sculptor was in Cairo where his first solo show in Egypt is being held. The prestigious gallery of Zamelek has a body of work that looks truly stunning. The exhibition is titled, ‘Motherland’ , so poignant and apt for his debut in his native country but doubly so as the collection is sculptures of ‘Mother and child’. Unlike the last Mother and Child Exhibitions these pieces are drawn from the Egyptian woman, the idea of home being the mother, the women playing a huge role in the home life of Egyptian society, the iconic images of woman carrying their babies. These ideas have all shaped and created the ten pieces currently in exhibition. The opening of the art season in Cairo feels a huge honour. He was warmly received with newspaper and TV interviews, a real ‘homecoming’
The exhibition is asking the viewer To contemplate, what is the meaning of ‘home’? Is it a place, a person, a memory, a feeling, a culture, is it an object?
What does ‘home’ mean to you? Does this trigger an emotion or a reaction?
‘Home’ for the sculptor is the memory of where he was raised, a period of time that he relates back to, a smell in the air, a time of no worries. For the sculptor, it is his sisters, his cousins, his aunties, his mother. These pieces in the exhibition were created to honour his mother and the women who shaped him but also an acknowledgement of the Egyptian Woman in a predominantly patriarchal society.
For me it’s interesting that my husband has a ‘homeland’ in Egypt which isn’t the same for him now, both as an adult, having lived in the U.K. for longer than he lived there, but also because his mother passed away when he was in his early twenties. So in some ways his idea of home is a distant memory. Obviously, ‘home’ I’d also here with our boys and I. Maybe, we all have more than one home.
When I think of home, I think of our house but also my parents house, it’s no longer my home but it has the memories, the feelings, the history that houses my ‘home’. Perhaps, there is no single thing that represents the meaning for us. I also have memories of my first 9 years of childhood in a different place, a different home. In a way, it’s like Egypt for my husband, it’s not a physical tangible thing just vague memories.
I always feel this time of year in England is about spending more time within the home, as the nights draw in and the weather wetter, colder, damper. I usually look forward to this time of retreat but after a lengthy spell in lockdown it feels that this year will be harder. Even more taxing as we enter a second lockdown. I’ve been doing a lot of self discovery and self care through journaling, meditation and unearthing old programming. My chosen word for this year was ‘play’ which I’m really only starting to tap into and move into as the year ends, as I play with paint, bake, create with words. It’s a real fight to suppress the urge to tidy and clean and organise the home over writing, creating and playing around. I feel a need to make the house homely by keeping it in a certain way which is a challenge considering the constructions by its size and two fast growing little men.
I have a desire to be more creative and spend my time (which feels more indulgent) creatively. What this year is teaching me is, that we need to embrace our inner child and to nurture what is important to us. Learn to laugh, relax and enjoy the moments, to be content in the present. It may seem more of a challenge given the global current situation but this is when it is even more important for our well being. For this is when we truly return home, to our home within.
2020 isn’t quite the most glorious year I had expected. But then that’s perhaps what we learn from this whole experience, not to have expectations. To really hone in on the moment, to simply look to the day ahead, the hour ahead, the simple present time we experience. On the other hand, it is a glorious year- the weather has been stunning where we are, nature has spread out her glory and we are having a unique consolidated family time.
I am not even sure what week we are into during this ‘staying at home’ quarantine. Time has become less important to measure and the weeks are blurred and so too will the months become.
In the first week though, the sculptor took to daily drawing and from his imagination conjured up these five sketches of creatures.
Interesting, I thought, as we adapted to a new hibernation, nesting or burrowing back into our homes. Then we saw how nature began to thrive and these last few weeks particularly the skies have been clear, the bees blossoming, tiny buds shooting forth and lambs littering the fields. Maybe, this is because we live in the countryside, for which I am extremely grateful right now. Obviously each year spring appears but this annual season seems particularly plentiful.
My husband was asked by various organisations and galleries to comment on the current situation with the corona virus from an Artist’s perspective. My husband has always believed that artists should be isolated in order to evolve, because mixing with so many people within society causes you to loose your identity or rather within the art sphere not be able to retain originality within the practice. History has shown us that so many viruses have come and passed through humanity and many artists didn’t express the situation within their work. He believes artists live in their own world and from time to time have to share his/her time or world with the rest of reality. Every negative situation or crisis always has a positive side to be seen and appreciated if uncovered. Companies are working together instead of against each other, improvements in the environment are already being seen and nature seems bountiful, spending more time with family, slowing the speed of life down, the expectations, the constant need for entertainment and distraction taken away as we are forced into retreat, all of these things are more positive than the actual virus itself.
The sad thing is so many of us don’t know what the future holds or where we are heading. However, in reality is this not the case all the time? The materialistic machine which the world has become has had an impact on what we call human emotion, it has made us selfish, colder, oblivious and ignorant. Now, people are starting to understand that we all have the capacity for the same emotions and a wider collective is appearing for the first time because of the virus issue. Perhaps, the life as we know it will change forever, and if we come out of this doing exactly the same as before then we are afraid humanity won’t have learnt anything.
Although the current situation is not ideal it is perhaps better than where we were heading, to find the positive impact which may come from this huge change. On a personal level the sculptor has always tried to isolate himself because of a need and desire to have time to absorb and recognise or realise an inner state of being. Looking at the past, as this is the only thing we can learn from, most of the greatest names mentioned in the history of humanity had their own time in isolation. Perhaps, now it is better know as meditation. Important though for reflection.
Life is fast. It has been getting faster everyday. We are not as fast. We need to slow our energy and atmosphere around us in order for this phase not to break us. We need to improve ourselves not our houses, our cars, our careers, our consumption. This time is precious. This is the present. It is a gift.
The African Collection is a new body of work which has layers of shapes and meaning. These works follow on from ‘The paper cut collection’, and a progression from a piece which my husband originally made in wood, like a prototype or maquette over ten years ago. I love this style. I love this collection. They are modern and contemporary yet at the same time referencing history. Egyptian heritage is very different from African History and yet Egypt sits within the African continent and the Ancient Egyptians themselves were influenced from central Africa, particularly art. Recently my husband was told that he probably descended from Sudan. The clue is in the name, there is a town in Sudan called Shendi. These pieces are referencing traditional African art styles, you can feel it from the vibrant colours and markings and the cut out shapes as well as the forms. African art also inspired Picasso and other artists of history so it links an Art History journey. As each sculpture has so many images I am just adding three pieces here, Afro IV above and Warrior I and Warrior II below.
The colours, shapes, patterns and angles create almost different sculptures depending where you view it. These layers of meaning can be interpreted as perspectives. When we are told stories it is often from only one viewpoint and this colours our understanding. It affects our knowledge, our history, our legacy. We are currently all being told stories from one perspective.
Creating a piece of art work which changes depending on our viewpoint can challenge us into considering this within life. When we look at something, we need to consider how we are seeing it and the filters that we put up or bring up which influences our ability to understand. Filters being, our own cultural upbringing, conditioning, experiences and so on. Our life experiences shape us, causing us perhaps to put some of our authentic nature into the shadows. What I also love about this style of work is the shadows they create. These pieces are creative visual storytelling. They evoke a juxtaposed playfulness and seriousness which perhaps embodies the African spirit.
It was October when I last wrote an entry here, ironically it isn’t because I haven’t been writing. Actually, I have been writing more than ever with good old fashioned pen and paper in a spiral binder from school days. Daily journaling which I am finding fulfilment and satisfaction in and a kind of cleansing as we enter into a new decade. I started to wonder as I go into the tenth year of this blog whether I should continue with it or branch out into something new but I remind myself that my intention for this was to record my husband’s journey into the art world and a little outlet for me whilst the boys were growing. With my eldest almost at my height, they are not so little anymore.
So 2019 ended well with the sculptor having two exhibitions at The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh part of The Annual Exhibition and the Open SSA+VAS exhibition. The sculptor is off to Edinburg on Saturday (tomorrow) to collect them. Some stunning photos were taken of his work in exhibition, thanks to Chris Watt (photographer) & Naomi McClure ( fellow artist in the exhibition).
We were completely surprised to find out at the start of the year that he won the W Gordon Smith and Mrs Jay Gordon Smith Award for work of merit at the SSA | VAS Open 2019. So this feels like huge recognition.
In the autumn, the sculptor went to Italy to receive the first steel cut for the Cunard. This year he will set to creating and making a sculpture for the ship, the first meeting yesterday so he is just back from London, re-inspired for this huge project. He also collected work from Belgium, took some down to Oxfordshire, had a meeting in Cambridge, is getting work back from Manchester later this week and preparing for a debut back in Egypt in the spring. It is non-stop and either up and down on trains or in a hired van depending on whether sculptures are with him or not. So he is literally here, there and everywhere.
I mentioned in a previous post that my own journey appears to mirror the sculptural journey. I have not ventured physically far, although my running distance and length are gradually extending and I am forever ferrying my football son to training and matches but my here, there and everywhere is more of a journey inward. As I finish up my 30 day yoga journey with Adriene YWA I am learning that I need to trust my own path. Let go of what is prescribed or following others and steer my own course. In todays yoga practice I couldn’t quite let go of the need to keep looking and watching her lead. Sometimes it can feel hard to venture off on your own path.
“Awareness returning home is awareness being enfolded by what it knows”
John De Rutter.
I also started 30 day, daily writing journal, at the beginning of the year which I think I need to try and continue the habit of, let go of the guide and listen to my inner voice. Meditations and hypnosis, reading and listening to podcasts I would also recommend to return home to yourself, for I do love winter as a time of hibernation and self development. We all take our own journey through life, we may go off in every direction, opposite and parallel. We wiggle and weave, take twists and turns but ultimately we are all heading in the same direction. The question is, what do we learn along the way?
“We are all just walking each other home.”
Projects are brewing here and overseas- those twists and turns and I am positive that 2020 will bring more exciting opportunities and hopefully I will keep this little blog up to date monthly. All part of the journey.
Words flow, Words come, Words go, So I dedicate time to grow, Whilst my husband creates, Eldest plays bass, and the youngest kicks a ball at a fair pace.
Words appear, Words stick, Words release, I learn to find inner peace, Whilst my husband is prolific, Eldest plays video games-take your pick, and the youngest kicks a ball with another new trick.
Words flow, Words come, Words go. This regular morning journalling is developing a skill you know.
September is gone and October arrived and with it so many butterflies. Victoria and Anne and Matilda are sat round the table doing free flowing writing exercises, like the Bronte sisters did. I only know that because last week I went to a poetry workshop in Haworth. Lead by the poet Clare Shaw with her beautifully broad Lancashire accent who poetically spoke of Emily, Anna and Charlotte as though we were there with them. Names. Interesting how we name things and they become so. For these sculptural cocoons my husband named them old Queens of England. Read into this whatever you like; history, identity, nationality, royal family.
The philosophy of these pieces is based upon something the famous sculptor Michelangelo is quoted for, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”. As though there is a life form within the material being manitpulated, asking for release, finding a way for freedom from the restraints within the cocoon of medium. My husband’s sculptural journey is often exploring ‘within’,looking at keeping that statue trapped. Not allowing the ‘breaking free’ process to occur and focusing on the development of the chrysalis. As the sculptor, I suppose this is his licence, to keep it under wraps. A butterfly just tapped on the window, as I write which gives me a sign I am on the right track.
My interest is in the naming. The famous sculpture of Michelangelo is ‘David’. When we view the sculpture ‘David’ we see a carved figure of a human form. It is unlike earlier Renaissance depictions of ‘David’, the biblical hero standing over Goliath. Michelangelo’s pose is before the battle actually takes place. Over time sculptural practice changes and develops with shifts in materials, philosophy, ideas, the things that inform the world around us. As much as we can still carve materials into almost exact replicas of things, there has to be an evolution to creativity. My husband is making reference to the title of ‘David’ by naming the art work female names in the same way. This creates a story around the sculpture and asks the viewer to question the form. It suggests that the figure is within the form but additional addresses the idea of what the human form actually is and to think of the body as simply a vessel, to look beyond shape. This concept is prevalent in much of my husband’s work. He is exploring the idea that we are so much more than our bodies but congruently, sculpturally, this collection is all about form, shape, mass, volume.
Almost at the same time as this collection was completed my husband won a project which we currently have to keep ‘under wraps’. A project which has meant a trip to London yesterday for the sculptor. The link between the titles of these sculptures and the up and coming project is a little bit like my constant observation of butterflies. All signs and symbols that everything is unfolding as it should.
Unintentionally I took a break from blogging in August. It strikes me that summer is a time for growth. For, the children physically, perhaps, for adults mentally. For me this summer I felt a strong need to work on self-development. I had heard that changes can happen when you turn the glorious age of 40, that shifts occur as though you are entering a new phase. I have a belief that things will fall into place for me within this decade. I didn’t realise it would be so marked.
I’ve also made a connection that my husband’s sculptural journey somehow mirrors my own life journey. So, when the boys were younger there was a heavy focus on ‘Mother and Child pieces‘, The ‘Giant collection’ when perhaps I was working through some post-natal shifts. The ‘Calligraphy collection’ as I started to outline my blog and with this latest collection during the summer months lots of links.
The metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly is a fascinating one and interestingly the boys love finding caterpillars and I love photographing butterflies. I think we all like seeing the positive result of change. This summer I have had time to reflect and do some work on my self, some self-realisation and feel, almost as if I am transitioning from a cocoon to the chrysalis. Meanwhile, the sculptor has been carving away at the ‘Metamorphosis collection’.
‘Matilda’. The ‘Metapmorphis Collection’ by Sam Shendi
“Self-realisation is a strange term. You don’t actually realise your self.
If anything, you go away. The caterpillar enters a cocoon of meditation: A butterfly emerges, metamorphosis.” Frederick Lindemann
The Story begins with a very hungry caterpillar. The boys loved this book when they were little. I am totally that very hungry caterpillar and this is one of the aspects I am trying to evolve from! The next stage is spinning itself into a cocoon and within the protective casing radical transforms occurs. The Chrysalis is not a resting stage, a lot is happening. I think I am in that stage still and not yet quite the butterfly. It isn’t just about an external transformation, although I am working on that too. Trying to focus on active and healthy choices. It is the changes from within, re-working old habits, extending and expanding new thoughts and ideas. Shedding the layers physically and peeling away at the onion of our psychology.
“And so artistic creation is the metamorphosis of the external physical aspects of a thing into a self-sustaining spiritual reality.” Hans Hofmann
“Victoria” from the ‘Metamorphosis Collection’. Sam Shendi 2019
I had some very liberating moments this summer and conversely some real trigger moments where I had some strong negative physical reactions to things which were happening. It is so important to navigate those trigger moments to understand what is happening in the sub-conscious and learning from them. To develop personal growth we need to acknowledge what we haven’t fully been willing to step into and where we are able to overcome those feelings. Like the caterpillar it is important to sacrifice who you are right now in order to see who you can become.
“I’d rather be this walking metamorphosis
than having that old formed opinion about everything.” Raul Seixas
‘Anne’ part of the ‘Metamorphosis collection’. Sam Shendi 2019.
The butterfly isn’t necessarily the end result, just the start of the journey. One of discovery. Creativity. Exploration. Shapes of cocoons vary, yet there is something universally simplistic and beautiful about them. All the more intricate work happening within. As humans we have a tendency to focus on our exterior, our outer shell and leave our inner being under nourished. The work that goes on within us is transformative and the only real change we can make begins with ourselves.
I’ll write more about the sculptural concepts next time!
“It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually:
all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” Henry Miller
To quote Mark Twain, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” has resonated with me for a number of years, firstly because my husband so clearly knows his own purpose and what he finds joy in doing but secondly because I have been very much the opposite of that. Like my shellfish star sign, I scuttle one way then retreat into my shell and then shuffle along in another direction. I have had so many interests over the years that I describe myself as ‘jack of all trades master of none’.
However, on Friday 12th July this year, my mother and I gracefully stumbled upon an exhibition at the British Library. In London, for a weekend away (my first without the boys in over 7 years I might add again) we realised neither of us had been to this tower of treasures before.
‘Writing: Making your Mark’ runs only for a few more weeks and it was a fortuitous turn that led us there. Delightfully, without children I was able to read every display case and successfully answered one of the little quizzes you could test yourself with about where types of writing originated from.
Not only have I struggled with a lack of direction in what I like to do I also need to overcome perfectionism. It is a hinderance. The desire to do things right overtakes the joy of an act. Yet somehow I have managed to keep this blog running for nine years despite my pitfalls in grammar and sentence construction.
It dawned on me in the dark depths of the British library that I have always been writing. Diaries, Journals, poetry, school work, blogging. I have dabbled in Russian, French, Japanese and now Arabic. Although, I am definitely not a linguist the idea of words, calligraphy and the art of writing is definitely something that I have a passion about. I wondered then from the belly of the building of books whether I had finally had that day. The second day that Twain deems an important one. I am declaring it almost so, for accountability perhaps. Fear that incase in a couple of months the idea of being a sports psychologist rears it’s competitive head or the family teacher trait takes a triumphant turn.
Writing features in the sculptors work in his Calligraphy collection and in one of his latest collection ‘Braille Branches’. This collection is one to raise awareness of environmental issues whilst simultaneously connecting with the visually impaired. The sculptures have different textures, surfaces and forms that lend themselves to touch and feel. The flat surface has raised patterns which allow the works to have a written message. When I was in the writing exhibition the section on Braille described it as tactile writing, patterns of dots or cells which can be used to represent letters, numbers and punctuation.
Something about these pieces looks ancient and futuristic combined, like modern tablets on ancient structures or alien-like forms with a primordial message. “Throughout history, we have engaged with writing in countless ways, using a variety of tools and materials. Writing and technology, have often developed hand in hand, inspiring and influencing one another. For thousands of years people have used writing to make their mark in a multitude of ways.” (Exhibition guide)
Today we use screens, express with emoji’s, communicate by text and yet I was thrilled to receive a beautiful fountain pen for my birthday halted in my endeavours to begin as I need ink! What will the future hold for the way we write, create, express and make our mark on the world. Thanks to Mark Twain I am eager to find out why and what happens next….