Balance, Birds and ‘The Bough’.

collections, Connections, Relationships

“Balance does not mean merely balancing the body. Balance in the body is the foundation for balance in life. In whatever position one is in, or whatever condition in life one is placed, one must find balance. Balance is the state of the present-the here and now. If you balance in the present, you are living in Eternity. When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future, only present.” Excerpt from Light on Life, Balance/Evenness is Harmony)

Balance is something I have been trying to achieve for a while within my mental space and also my physical body. I write ‘achieve’ and realise that it’s not about getting there but finding some kind of harmony within. I have a tendency towards extremes, in many areas of my life. For about eight years I have been dipping in and out of an at home yoga practice but this year I have managed to cultivate a daily yoga practice, over 120 days straight and still going. Helped immensely by the accountability of doing it in tandem with my Mum. This is really helping my mental balance, moving ideas from the mat into life, then breathing through the challenges and accepting what is happening in the present moment. Still not easy but I can sense a little shift. ‘Balance is my natural state’, is a great mantra for realising that I can return to this equilibrium.

My last homeopathic remedy was to help me return to a more balanced state and interestingly, a bird remedy. Birds feature heavily in the poems I write and also in my husband’s sculptures. There is natural liberation in the ability to fly and the need for an innate sense of balance. Birds seem to represent infinite possibilities, eternity. I feel drawn to birds, creatures captivating in their movement. My Mum has always said my name, ‘Tamsin’ means little bird but I can’t find where she may have found that out from as my own research leads to it meaning ‘twin’. Still, I like the idea of my name having a bird association. The other morning on one of our daily walks we were mesmerised by a pair of Hawkes or Kites gliding and darting high above and then more immediately in our sight line two swallows dancing and almost swimming in the air. Birds are often used by creatives to represent thought, imagination and loftiness of spirit, which is why I think I am drawn to them. The sculptor uses them in his work to represent a voice, achievements, and dreams.

This sculpture, ‘The Bough’ is titled as the idea of humanity shouldering the responsibility of nature, being the main branch laden with the blossoms of life. Exploring the idea of being custodians of the natural habitat, the figure looks as though he is flying or diving into life, balancing nature on their back. Synonymously the idea of humanity and the interaction with nature and the plinth representing contemporary society.

How can we balance these components in today’s world?

Reflecting back and Looking ahead

Connections, History, Philosophy, Soul searching

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.

Poem by Tamsin Shendi

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.

The Sculptor & Sons get a dog despite me saying no!

collections, Colour, Making

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.

Dream Catcher IV, Harlequin Collection

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.”

Bill Watterson.

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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Victoria, Anne and Matilda

collections, Colour, Connections

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.

 

The Metamorphosis Collection

Full video : What is imagination?

Connections, Philosophy, Publications

 

I feel like I have heard the question, ‘What is imagination?’ echo around my head and in my kitchen for the whole of this year. It is the same video as I posted a few weeks ago with the addition of the second half about the sculptor’s imagination. So do keep watching until the end. I think it is quite a good, inspirational, informative, educational little video delving into the working of an artistic mind.

Let me know what you think.

Imagination

Digital Art, Philosophy

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!

Think Pink

collections, Relationships

PINK BUST WITH SAM

Sam Shendi with Sculpture 2018

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” 

Marcel Duchamp

How to read art: Understanding Sculpture Shakespeare, & Shendi.

Colour, Conceptual, Connections, Philosophy

section of the branch

Side view of ‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi

Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? …people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
— Pablo Picasso

One perspective of 'The Bow'

The Bow, Sam Shendi

Sometimes we try too hard to understand what art is and what the artist is trying to say. Any art form be it; music, singing, poetry, writing, painting, drawing and sculpture, dance and even sport (if you see can go as far as to see that as an art form) is an expression from the artist. The creator. It’s their voice.

section of mermaid

How, as someone trying to appreciate another’s voice, do we try to understand what someone else is trying to say? Like with any conversation, it is best to let go of any judgements, any preconceived ideas or opposition. Easier said than done when in a discussion or a debate.  However, in the case of art. The art form isn’t directly speaking back to you in any kind of altercation, so the ability to let go should be easier.

So, with the case of sculpture if you want to understand it, you can consider these following things:

 How does it make you feel?

toy7

‘The Toy’

And any emotion can be relevant. See what comes up. Accept. Don’t try to force meaning or words. Relax and think about the sensations.

Does it evoke memories? Give you ideas, inspire you, does it open your imagination? Relax.

Shelter 2012 Sam Shendi

Let your eyes wander around it. This is why seeing sculpture, live in its three-dimensional form  is important and can help understanding. We can only appreciate or connect so much from an image.

cropped-pink-for-cover.jpg

Look at the colours or lack of colour, how do the colours impact or affect you?

Consider  the materials and whether that makes you feel a certain way?

I saw recently on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park instagram page the quote, “Sculptures often explore the edges of objects and spaces, overlapping, puncturing or touching”. What about the shape, the form, the surface. Is it smooth, soft, sharp, curvy, does it cast shadows?

cropped-kiss1.jpgHow do you interact with the piece when you walk around it?

Take your time.

Does it speak to you?  What does that question mean to you?

‘Urgency’ 2012 Sam Shendi

Art is an experience.

It is about analysing your emotional response to it and the potential for the work to open your imagination and idea up into potential a higher plane.

We might look at a Van Gough, Monet or a Rembrandt, a Da Vinci or a Michelangelo and think that we can understand the painting and sculpture because it visually makes sense to us. But go beyond what you see. How does it make you feel?

When I first saw the Mona Lisa, I was shocked by the size. When I wandered around Rothko’s large abstract paintings I was in awe. I’ve seen work that is brilliant, baffling and beguiling.

Often we don’t listen to a piece of music, whatever genre and try to understand it. Art appreciation seems a little harder, a little more perplexing. Why?

ripe 2In both there is composition, creating a scene, a mood, a form of expression.

My husband would say that it isn’t about ‘understanding’.  He thinks that unfortunately what is happening now is a generation of people who are driven by materialism and money and are spending too much time thinking about what to create and it that so much of art has become an object or a product. True artists should be simply driven by the desire to express their imagination. He says for example, “if you look at a Dali painting, what he has done is capture his imagination and introduces it to us. We have the opportunity to see inside Dali’s head”.

I went to see Othello with a very good friend of mine. The performance was modern, minimal and had a very shocking scene in the middle of it, which we were not sure needed to be there. Perhaps, we were seeing something that was inside the director’s head…eek! However, what was very noticeable to us both was that because we had studied it for one of our A-level texts we could understand it ( to a certain degree). Where as, we mused that had we not, much of it would have gone over our heads. Watching this Shakespeare performance 20 years after first reading it, seeing it, analysing and taking it apart made me realise that it is important to learn about an art form. If you do want to understand it to a higher level then it is about deconstructing it and putting it back together.

Living with an artist, a sculptor has enabled me perhaps to deconstruct my own way of thinking and put it back together. I wonder if that is essentially what marriage is asking you to do, when you live in a shared space and choose to share your life with someone different from yourself. Communication is so important.

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.

We listen to reply.”

Susan Stiffelman.

The same in art, we look to form an opinion, we don’t look to observe and learn. In Othello, we are shown how character and emotion plays a vital role in understanding ourselves and others and how the dangers of not harnessing those emotions can them can have. We can either analyse and learn from it or put up a barrier in opening up our channels of understanding. So perhaps Picasso was right, we can’t explain art. We have to be open.

“Observe, accept, release, transform” Yung Pueblo.

looking up