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.

Baden-Baden, Pardon?

Exhibitions

We have a children’s book called ‘The parrot song’ which is a little ditty all about repetition. It mentions the German town of Baden-Baden and for a while in my ignorance I wondered why they had plucked out a town which rhymed with Pardon. I find it quite amusing because in the Arabic language there is no ‘p’ sound so words/letters in English can often me a little tricky for my husband. Baden and Pardon could almost be interchangeable. So when the offer of exhibiting in the German town of Baden-Baden came we had a rather interesting conversation as to whether it was one Baden or two. Needless to say there were numerous Baden’s and Pardon’s.

The connection with Baden-Baden was a racing event and the possibility of exhibiting ‘Troy’. The whole idea snowballed into my husband creating a body of work for a solo exhibition for Baden races. He painted prolifically in our house which was a real pleasure to participate in and be able to watch the process. He built on work we have had for several years. Layering ideas and colours, resulting in paintings like stories. I wish I had recorded the whole process really in todays digital age as it is an art in itself watching him create.

The sculptures, sleek and elegant are more like statements. He created new pieces specifically for the event adding to the already existing smaller horses head-piece ‘Mane’. So the summer was overtaken by preparing for Germany. With nerves, apprehension and excitement he flew to Frankfurt yesterday and onto Baden-Baden. Early this morning the work was arriving by van and I am sincerely praying they arrived safely, in one piece and the installation can begin. (text received all going well)

Here is a glimpse at the absolutely stunning work:

Mane

‘Mane’ by Sam Shendi

head

‘Arion’ by Sam Shendi

racer

‘Racer’ by Sam Shendi

name?

‘Rare Breed’ by Sam Shendi

whipped

‘Taking the Lead’ by Sam Shendi

Dark Horse

‘Dark Horse’ by Sam Shendi

Troy painting

‘Troy’ by Sam Shendi

on fire

‘Spirit’ by Sam Shendi

at the races

‘Once upon a time in Summer’ by Sam Shendi

namless

‘Temple’ by Sam Shendi

crusadercoming through

speed

troy baden

‘Troy’ by Sam Shendi

art at the races

poster of event starting tomorrow

His statement:

“I will be showing this collection at my exhibition at Baden Racing event in Germany from 28th of August to 6th of September. In this exhibition I am showing for the first time in my career paintings, which I have created involving horses to compliment my sculptural work. Being at the Baden racing event is a great opportunity and the perfect place to showcase this theme of work.Growing up in the countryside of Egypt I was surrounded by all kinds of animals in particular horses has influenced me. Not only as a creature but mainly the form and shape fascinated me. How it moves, the muscles and the harmony of the body whilst at speed and stationary. Riding horses in my culture is a natural thing there is no training for it. I believe being an Egyptian that I am a natural rider. The experience of riding has made me feel the body movement of the horse and the communication between the horse’s body and mine.At the faculty of Fine Art in Cairo I chose to be a sculptor, I never used horses as a subject as most of the practice was in the classical realism of human figures. However, when I look back at my sketchbook, every book has one or two drawings of horses. I wouldn’t describe myself as a painter; the prominence of my practice is in sculpting. Although, when I choose to paint the only thing, which comes to mind, are horses. I feel like my hand wills the brush beyond my control to paint them.

My usual sculptural practice is using steel and stainless steel using folding and welding techniques to create minimalistic sculptures to create my concepts. In 2013 I created an unusual piece, slightly different from my usual line of work. I had some material and saw a horse within so I tried to carve it out. I had no real purpose for creating it. The materials and space limited the size I could go to but my intention wasn’t for a full size horse. After several months of carving I realized I was creating my own version of a horse. This prompted the start of a collection and I am exhibiting them all together for the first time. My work reflects experience and memories that most of us share. Using the horse as a subject is a tool to highlight the universal concept to point out the strength within us, the harmony of creation of our body and the beauty within.”

Beauty

Colour, Philosophy, Soul searching

Beauty 3Beauty 1beauty

Ever the artist, the collector, the seeker of beauty, my husband went off yesterday to pick up a ‘beauty bike’. Should I insert, ‘big roll of the eyes here’ or say it was definitely one of those clear moments when I knew I just had to let the artist ride out his dream. It is an aesthetically pleasing piece of design, though I have not yet seen it in the flesh. It is a new project, to be sculpted, to be uniquely designed.

My mind has  been preoccupied with preparing for is first speech, children full of November cold’s and not feeling the inspiration for writing but when our eldest son saw this piece, he said “it’s a beauty”. I thought this summed it up quite nicely. But what does make us judge something as ‘Beautiful’ or not? What does make my husband think that a bike is a beauty, to me the design of it does not make me desire it or feel the need to possess it.

In a world where we have become obsessed with the external we have forgotten that inner beauty is what lasts longer. The flowers wither and die, the leaves fall of the trees. Everything which is beautiful dies. As a society we have lost the idea that worth is defined by the soul, the heart, moral character.