The Great White Horse

Drawings, Making, Relationships

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.

A creative’s viewpoint of Corona

Drawings, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching

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.

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Drawing upon Drawing

Drawings, Galleries, Workshops

So much has been happening of late that I haven’t had time to finish a blog entry. I was thinking of merging them into one but will try to be focused and get it done in two.

The sculptor has had various interesting meetings recently which included a workshop for the first time which went well. It was focused on his exhibition and for the participants to create a sculpture but he wanted the group to focus on drawing their idea first. A large collection of work went in a restaurant in the middle of Bradford city centre, and that followed with a radio interview for BBC Radio Leeds. (Sound bite will only last for the night 3 days and he is speaking at roughly 40.43).

The sculptor talking about ‘drawing’ at the responses to art workshop

The sculptor talking about ‘drawing’ at the responses to art workshop

We all went for ‘The Big Draw’ at Cartwright Hall during half term and had well over 100 people draw on huge paper which we intended to wrap around the building but it was too windy on the day when we wee finishing. It was really interesting to see patterns in drawing.

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Four year olds drawing of people, The BIg Draw 29th October

Lots of 4-year-old drawing circles, dots and lines to represent bodies. Parents drawing houses, some finding inspiration from their family. A grandparent sat for a good while some fantastic shading in of a beautiful snail his granddaughter had drawn. A young boy drew his fish tank with amazing detail and a family came in to warm up from the park and covered their paper in ducks and birds and visions inspired by Lister Park. Upstairs in the gallery Tim Curits , another local artist who does lots of drawing in his own practise, they were looking at a college and self portraits and making pictures of themselves with newspaper. Drawing upon a lovely collection of Hockney’s drawings and college work.  Our eldest, feeling comfortable to roam the gallery by himself went to see what was happening in Tim’s workshop and usually keen to do anything creative declined out of loyalty to Baba downstairs. It was the first time for my husband to do this community art workshop event. We had thought that we would ask family to look at each other and draw each other , perhaps looking at the style of my husband’s sculpture. However, when its a drop in and the numbers fluctuate with busier times and quieter times it was just good to see people sitting and drawing and not being too prescriptive.

The gallery was a hive of activity and what was also interesting was seeing on one wall in the Hockney exhibition, all the drawings were hung at child’s eye level and there were little drawings of Hockney to find around the exhibition. So with the Big Draw event, Julia Donaldson exhibition and curators hanging work directly for children there is no better place or time to introduce children to the wold of museums and galleries so I totally agree with Jake Chapman and his quite ridiculous statement about children and galleries.

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Our eldest’s drawing at The bIg draw event at Cartwright

Children aren’t suddenly going to want to go to an art gallery at 18 if they have been ousted in infancy. Art and drawing is already squeezed out of the main stream too much. Drawing is such an important and valuable skill and something we forget to continue to do as we grow older. With my husband and eldest constantly drawing it is something that happens in our house naturally but something I personally don’t take time to do. After such a busy half term the house is in a state where I have drawers to wash, draws to put things away into, we have been rushing around so much and leaving a mess.

I noticed this morning a sudden drop in temperature, the skyline grey and wintry. Like shades of  newly sharpened pencils crisp and fresh. Time to sit down, wrap up and draw.

 

 

The Owl Challenge

Drawings, Relationships

Mr. Owl

‘Owl’

So from the heights of previews and openings in London to the day-to-day drawings at home with his boys. Today’s challenge from our eldest son was to draw an owl never seen before. Even I had ago! (though I am not going to upload my drawings on here) This mixes the cartoon designer, the interest in fashion and the conceptual sculptural ideas all in one sketch! Happy sketching:)

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Conceptual, Drawings, Making

All a bit gory in the title, but then this expression summed up the day. It started two days ago when I came home in the middle of the day and was transferring my sleeping toddler from car to house. As I made my way up the stairs I got a little spooked to see a tall figure in the kitchen out of the corner of my eye. A full size skeleton had landed. For the last couple of days the kitchen and back yard have been the workshop. So we have had body parts lying around on the worktop and kitchen table. It is not a real human I must make clear, we have not gone as far as Damien Hirst. However, it may be a bit religiously controversial but that sparks debate.

‘The Toy’

I am hesitant about putting up sketches, although it shows the working process. The sketch is the first stage, the next stage is sprawled around our house making it rather cold as the back door is open due to the drilling that has been going on. When I told my eldest son what had happened today he immediately sobbed, a mixture of empathy and worry I think. His tears were heartfelt. So this is the blood addition, whilst drilling some of the parts together, I am not sure how the drill went through the skeletal sculpture bone into my husband’s hand, Ouch! but it did. I personally thought it looked like it had just touched the bone but he merely brushed it off as the first layer of skin (think we are talking more like subcutaneous layer actually). So in true Egyptian style he simply superglued it together. Rather fortunate I just happened to buy some at the beginning of the week to glue back together a wooden frame in the boy’s room which I have been meaning to do for months.

So the Sculptor is sore but still drilling away. So what has the sweat got to do with it? All this hard work, this  piece had been the most physically exerting, and challenging. It  made me think about how we define hard work. In the Uk we are constantly on a treadmill, we seem to think that if we have ‘sweated’ hard for something then we are more deserving of it. Although people talk about work life balance, I don’t see it. The majority of people live to work.

The question of what art is also arose. My husband pointed out that the majority of his work was purely from the imagination in his head, whilst this piece is the ‘idea’, putting something that already exists in a new way. People often comment about conceptual art that, ‘they could do it’. It is ideas and concept that create debate. Of course, in my own head I am now even more concerned about the sparks that may fly about this piece. However, there is an important message behind this work.

This image below was taken earlier, I have just been called through to see the finished body on the kitchen table. 14 hours later and 72 pieces assembled. A lot of blood, sweat and tears for one day.

‘The Toy’ – in progress

Networking

Connections, Drawings, Exhibitions, Galleries

'plugged in'

Fantastic images were taken at the opening but non belonging to me. This sketch I stumbled across just now and thought it very apt for today. Are we all ‘plugged in’?

Social Networking sounds like such a modern phenomenon and the 2010 film!, but traces go back to the ancient Greeks and it has also been written about in the 1800’s by sociologists and psychologists. I can’t find a great definition but to my mind it is very much like the computer definition. Substitute people for devices and it works quite well. “A computer network, often simply referred to as a’ network’, is a collection of hardware components and computers interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information.Where at least one process in one device is able to send/receive data to/from at least one process residing in a remote device, then the two devices are said to be in a network.”

The event at Debut Contemporary was a huge success and for my husband it was very much about ‘Networking’. He made new contacts and ‘physically’ met people he had already ‘connected’ with through social networking. He gained confidence about his work and his sketchbook (another reason why I thought it appropriate to but in a sketch today).

I feel I have been ‘networking’ too, both in the very real world of ‘mother and toddlers’. Making connections between mums’.  Exploring the world of ‘blogging’ a little more. Discovering some art blogs and ‘networking’ with them a little. One artist  blogged about the Debut Contemporary party…and captured on camera my husband ‘networking’! See more pictures at her ‘artists blog’

In yet another connection; we are constantly listening to a CD in the car at the moment which my eldest loves. The song writer also has a blog who just happens to have written The Delinquent Blogger Beseeches The Court of Social Media… perhaps, it is not just artists who are connected in invisible webs.

What is the difference then between networking and simply making friends then? Perhaps networking is more like the computer, about ‘shared resources’, ‘sending each other data’. It can happen face to face but more often now ,when ‘plugged in’. Well, on that note, I’d better get back to the real world…….

Euphoria

Drawings, Egyptian, Galleries, History, Making, Mother and Child, Soul searching

To follow-up Monday’s interview and my french translation entry on Debut, ‘Euphoria’ comes from Ancient Greek. Technically, euphoria is an affect, but the term is often used to define an emotion as, an ‘intense state of transcendent happiness combined with an overwhelming sense of contentment’. It has also been defined as an “affective state of exaggerated well-being or elation.” (Wikipedia).I have just jumped up and down for 10 minutes making a strange kind of squeaking noise I didn’t know I had inside me, whilst my husband rang me to tell me that he had been SELECTED!!!! We are both in a Euphoric state. My husband said he wanted to leave everything at the shop and literally run home. His euphoric energy would probably only get him a few yards before his body told him the reality. However, he had to stay and see a customer. The word derives from Greek εὐφορία, “power of enduring easily, fertility”. So this sketch embodies exactly that.

Also, in Egypt they celebrate a year on from the revolution. My sister-in-law seems quite euphoric about the future for her children.  I must find out more from friends and family over there. It is also a close friends birthday. Happy Day! Euphoric Day in fact.