‘Toy’ to a new home

Conceptual, Philosophy

Another blogger /writer, a mother, wrote about how she put all the children’s toys in black bin liner and hid them in the studio. She left just one or two toys out and if the child asked for something particular she resurrected it. She noticed however that her child was playing more imaginatively and productively. I quite regularly re-home toys in an effort to make more space especially in the boys shared room. They are sometimes good at giving things to charity. We recently split a large basket of animals into piles of which we would keep and ones we would give away. This was a little harder as the eldest loves animals, so some that were originally for charity crept back into the basket. I wish I could be as ruthless and bag everything up and start with a blank slate again, introducing just a few toys. Even I find it difficult though to let go, a hoarder by heart. I will pick something up and think ‘ah but they played so nicely with that last month!’ We attach ourselves to things unnecessarily. We place value on them to much.

Yesterday, on returning from the studio finishing off getting ‘The Toy’ ready my husband likened creating a sculpture to being a mother. I understood the analogy but I don’t agree (that’s the mother speaking). However, I totally understood that he felt a little saddened in saying goodbye to ‘The Toy’ which he is taking today to a new home. It was a piece that started on our kitchen table with ‘Blood, sweat and tears’. For this piece is in some ways so more than a sculpture, it is a concept, an idea, a philosophy. One day it would be fantastic to produce it in bronze. It is a piece which often produces a negative reaction. Unlike most of the other works it holds a dark, disturbing image but sometimes it is those harder to swallow ideas that have the strongest message.

This piece is different from the majority of the work but my husband couldn’t find any better way to present his thoughts. With these mediums and this design, it speaks about the 21st century, the society that we live in. The fact the most people work hard and yet don’t go anywhere, like a rocking horse. However long it rocks it stays in the same place. The skeleton is black to show the time that we are in, when fuel has become more important than human life or any living creature, think oil spills and images of birds and sea creatures coated in petrol. The horse-tail, is real horse hair represents the focus on our bodies, going to the gym, looking good, good diet etc. Similar to he technique for a horse race, constantly looked after, good diet, great exercise trained for the ‘race’. Wins only to make the owner very rich. We have become a ‘toy’ to our bosses, to our society and to our media. Played with and manipulated somehow. We believe that this is the normal life the life we are supposed to have. Work 9 till 5, 6 days a week, sleep 8 hours, have three-course meal and wish to live longer..when we could end up being in a nursing home, sitting down on a rocking chair thinking that you lived the life in full. This is an observation of the way our society has become obsessed with material aspects of life, of being in the spotlight not thinking beyond.

toy home

‘The Toy’ by Sam Shendi. 2012


Art can be aesthetically pleasing and beautiful but sometimes we need to stop and think and the ‘shock value’ in this piece is intended for that. ‘The Toy’ spent the last six months at Cartwright art Gallery and Museum being viewed by the public and we were given a copy of the fantastic and intriguing comments. Now it moves to a private collection. We have to let go.

(…..yes the’ Frozen’ lyric does spring to mind but immediately wipe it out your mind. I looked up synonyms but nothing else fit )

The evolution of ‘Evolution’.

Exhibitions, Galleries, Public Art

It has been a welcome break to be offline and unplugged for a month. However in today’s world I am not sure how possible it is to keep that up. We have evolved into an online society. So much  has been happening in the ‘Sculptural World’ I am not sure I can catch up with what has past. So will have to run with real-time and tell you what is happening today and coming up this month. In all things Yorkshire, we have two solo exhibitions happening locally.

This evening we open at Damside Mill ‘Evolution’ an exhibition about the journey of work over the last 14 years. An interesting collection of work from the bronze beginnings to the recent modern minimalism. Join us tonight for the preview:


At the same time ‘Evolution’ the sculpture has moved from its first location outside ‘The Royal British Sculpture Society’ and now stands proudly in Lister Park awaiting the accompaniment of two other larger piece for ‘Art in the Park’. We are also getting ready for the exhibition  ‘Only Human’ at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery which opens on August 13th and runs until February 2015. It seems serendipitous that I have been visiting this place since I was 10, worked there and last year our eldest son learnt to ride his bike in this exact spot. As a family we have been on a journey through this creative space. Would highly recommend a visit.

'Evolution' in Lister Park, Bradford

‘Evolution’ in Lister Park, Bradford

Busy, Busy, Busy….

Colour, Exhibitions, Galleries, Making, Public Art

Have I called a post entry that before? Perhaps, but it’s not been as busy as this. I can’t write quick enough for the amount of work my husband is doing at the moment. This weekend we need to collect the pieces from the Red brick Mill in Batley and bring back pieces from London to get ready for their next visit… busy busy busy.

tall evo

‘standing tall – evolution ‘adult’ piece

ready for shoot

‘Ready and waiting for the photo shoot’

Self Actualisation

Beautiful Bronze, Colour, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching

I was listening to the radio whilst driving the other day and caught a snippet of discussion about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which was a visual map about what motivates people. It was said that if undergraduates of psychology recall anything they remember the pyramid diagram of the stage model of five motivational needs. I smiled because, indeed as my psychology degree lies somewhere hidden underneath the blankets of motherhood and I could visualise the pyramid and it’s five stages , well I could remember the first being food and shelter and the last being self actualisation, what ever that meant.

The radio programme went on to discuss that Maslow, only listed 18 people who had reached self actualisation, including Einstein and himself I think. When looking at the characteristics of self-actualizers to write this, I think my husband ticks most of the list. He is so unbelievably motivated. On the programme they discussed that Maslow’s conception was someone who had a “heightened sense of awareness and reality” or “completely absorbed in an activity and don’t know time passing”. I would say this is totally my husband and could give countless examples. The thinking is all about “Possibilities not restraints” and the possibilities of change and of the human being. 

There are so many flaws with Maslow’s theory especially if looking at artists. Van Gogh lived most his life in poverty and probably didn’t have the middle stages but arguments have said he was self actualised. However, I would perhaps argue Van Gogh wasn’t, he was exploring his creativity and pursuing inner talent but without the support of the base of the pyramidal needs he wasn’t able to reach self actualisation. My instinct is to think that in order to reach self actualisation you must have worked through the pyramidal needs. To have actually experienced what it is like to not have had. If we are from a privileged background where the basic needs of food and shelter are not tested and we become complacent that they are a given, then reaching our potential is hindered. The drive the ambition is not likely to be as great.

I am so unmotivated, far from being self actualised, however I do think in my role as ‘Sculptors wife’ could be classified totally as ‘helping others to achieve self s’. Which could put me at the peak of the pyramid in ‘Transcendence needs’  in the revised version and eight stage model. Not that it’s a competition or anything! Unfortunately that puts my whole theory on its head. I rather like the idea of being transcendent though I could get motivated about that 🙂

I have just trawled through my entries to see if I have put images of this piece up before. I was convinced I had but it wasn’t where I thought it was and looking very different in my past entry. It had a face lift after the fire, it is still bronze but somehow giving it this cover links with the ‘branding’ of my husband’s work. It sort of symbolises motivation. You do have to take that leap of faith and take the step forward in reaching your aims. I think Maslow would be happy with this;

big step 1

‘The Big Step Forward’

‘The Big Step Forward’

big step

‘The Big Step Forward’

Challenges, Changes and Chocolate

Beautiful Bronze, Mother and Child
mother and child

‘Mother and Child’

Short and sweet today as this ‘Mother and Child’ piece has been written about before but it was one of the pieces damaged in the fire. It’s been highly polished to giving a golden shine. Sometimes things happen for the better even after something which isn’t so good. For some reason it makes me think of liquid chocolate. Maybe because it’s gold? Maybe more like golden syrup.I have totally over done the sugar today. Something to do with Pancakes and making a chocolate cake. My boy who doesn’t eat chocolate cake suggested we make one like the one in ‘Matilda’!. Great Treat though for my husband’s birthday which is today. I know many creative people born at this time of year. I wonder why that is?

I had started this entry a few weeks ago, but the challenge of writing and the challenge of running this year has not quite yet taken off. I blame the snow! The snow stage is hopefully  ending and spring will soon approach us. It so easy to blame something or someone else but the challenge is to master ourselves. The child in this sculpture is still a babe in arms and I am starting to feel this stage of motherhood is ending. It is sad, but change is inevitable. I love the baby stage but I see the next as giving me a little more time to master the challenge I set for myself. The motherhood challenge, well that is never-ending and answer to that is chocolate!

mother and c

‘Mother and Child’ restored (left side)

Wild from the woods

Beautiful Bronze, Connections, Making, Mother and Child

Not only does this beautiful bronze look a bit like earthy bark, both in colour and form but the whole piece represents me today. I am sat writing warming up with a cup of tea after a fantastic play in the woods with my youngest boy. It was all of those basic natural delights; fire, sticks, mud, fresh air. Finding Fungus, looking at leaves. Watching, observing, learning. Windswept and whiffing of smokey woods. We loved it!  Out in the semi wilderness this morning and braving the elements, I envisaged the cold that will come. I have got a bit to used to my creature comforts and it is too easy to forget that long ago people survived and still do from the outdoors alone. Foraging for firewood, finding shelter gathering berries, being connected with nature. When my little boy fell and slightly grazed his hand, the second injury of the day, he wanted some more cream as I had already coated his cheek in some hypercal, which has properties of calendula. I pondered on what would have been used as herbal healing treatment in days of old.

These images are the newly taken photos of a bronze I blogged about in one of my first posts. These images really show the smooth texture of the original clay material which my husband sculpted with his hands. Then cast in a patinated bronze which enhances the whole mother and child. A mother and child at one with nature.

“and though I had been taught in school that the wilderness of the world was cold and uncaring, unfeeling and ruled by tooth and claw, I did not find it so. It gave me all I have and began to teach me a truth I had not learned in school, a truth plain in it’s every line, and movement and turning. For nature does not know how to lie. It is such a simple observation that there are no straight lines in nature but it is a door into Nature’s heart”, Stephen Harrod Buhner.

Read a few blogs recently about this sort of thing;

a local one I just discovered and someone I used to work with.   http://www.annieberrington.co.uk/

Can’t find the specific entry I  was looking for but the whole ethos of this blog: http://knowthesphere.wordpress.com

The Art of Listening

Beautiful Bronze, Philosophy, Relationships, Soul searching, Steel
'The Thinker'

'The Thinker'


Contemplating the difference between networking and friendship, I wonder if, listening is a fundamental difference. I am not one for blowing my own trumpet but I would put listening high on my list of skills. Although, being silent whilst another person speaks does not always mean ‘good listening’.

I have become increasingly aware that having three male voices to listen to in my house, quite often all at the same time, I may add; I have developed an art of appearing to be listening whilst often thinking a million and one other things at the same time. Isn’t that what most of us do, really, if we are honest ?

It is quite rare I think for a man to be verbally descriptive about what happens in their day. However, even in his second language my husband vividly describes every detail of what happens in his eventful days. Which is fantastic. I can almost imagine I am was there with him. So, on his return from London the story he told me of the Debut Contemporary Exhibition opening was as colourful as his sculptures. It can be hard to concentrate and to properly listen, something I am not doing too well at the moment, but if we do we can reap the benefit.

Joel Kramer, “The Passionate Mind” describes ‘the art of listening’ brilliantly. I have often looked at this to remind me of how to take on board new information.

“Ordinarily what we do when we think we are listening is to take in the words, translate them into something we know or are familiar with,and then agree or disagree.

If the words fit our structures, our beliefs, the things we feel comfortable with, the things we know then the speaker is a wise man and we agree.

If the words do not please us, do not fit our structures and beliefs, do not give us pleasure, then the speaker is a fool and we disagree.

That is what most of us do and call it listening.

But if we are either agreeing or disagreeing, then we are not listening.

For to listen there must be an openness, an innocence, a putting away of old ideas, so that possible the fresh can come in.

If you are busily involved in either agreeing or disagreeing, and you can watch yourself doing this by the way you nod your head as you listen, then what you are doing is not listening at all,

and the new, which is the fount of growth and learning, does not come in.