Shock, Sadness & Sculpture Parks


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.

The Sculptor working in the studio. Wearing his hat in a way, similarly to how his Father did.

The Sculptor working in the studio. Wearing his hat in a way, similarly to how his Father did.

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.

Sam Shendi with clay sculpted head - never cast.

Sam Shendi with clay sculpted head – never cast.

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.

Sam Shendi with 'Alert' from the Mother and Child Collection, now in Graham's Gallery Johannesburg.

Sam Shendi with ‘Alert’ from the Mother and Child Collection, now in Graham’s Gallery Johannesburg.

4 thoughts on “Shock, Sadness & Sculpture Parks

  1. Such a moving post. I was with my Father when he died but not with my Mother. After the initial shock it’s the warmth of our memories that matter, that keep the dead alive in our hearts. I do feel for Sam and wish you all courage and strength in this difficult time.

  2. Sad to hear about Sam’s father, always devastating and more so when your not with them.
    But he is not gone just not visible, I am sure he will watch over you over with pride and love.
    Thinking of you all. X

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