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?

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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Mademoiselle at Sculptour Beukenhof

Colour, Exhibitions, Galleries

madame 2 outsideMadame outside

Of course, with all my brilliant blog planning, I didn’t include these glorious pictures in my last blog post (see link for last post). Mademoiselle strutting her stuff in the grounds of Beukenhof, Belgium. It has been a gloriously sunny week here and I made a deliberate attempt to get a little walk and a little run in. Something caught my eye the other day, about the healing aspect of being in nature and that we are very detached from that these days. Just being in the presence of the trees, the birds.

However, the birds seem to be using the area around our house as their toilet just now. My car is covered and this morning as I was hanging out the towels to dry, one such bird just happened to release right above me. Not very pleasant. Not very ‘mademoiselle’ !

Sky, Earth, Water

Philosophy, Soul searching

I have caught some beautiful days this summer. Wandering. Walking. Captivated by the clouds and flowers this year. Always looking up for some loftier inspiration. I dart around like the swallows in my pursuit for easier homemaking, exercise, minimising and reducing waste, writing and looking after our business and the boys. Reminded recently about the need to be grateful for the place where we are at, both  mentally and physically. I am fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world. Sometimes grounding ourself in the importance of seeing something through, brings us back to earth.

Sky Earth Water (2016)

A funny poem, for an amazing hand carved sculpture, on this hot day

Exhibitions, Public Art

(Little parody of the Teddy Bear’s picnic) I think the heat in the shop is getting to me.

If you go down to the woods today,

You’re sure of a big surprise

If you go down to the woods today,

You’d better go in disguise

For every butterfly there ever was

Will gather there for certain because

 you’ll find there, a huge bull’s backside

Bull’s backside for butterflies

Butterflies are having a lovely time today

Watch us catch them unaware

and see them undefeated play

See them gaily gad about

they love to fly and mount

upon the bull they stay for a dare

At Doddington Hall you can see 

the sculpture by Shendi

Inside the hall and in the open air!

defeated b at dodd

‘Defeated Butterfiles’ by Sam Shendi (2016) at Doddington Hall

defeated at dood defeated at dod

Creativity, Imagination, Creation

Colour, Exhibitions, Mother and Child, Philosophy, Soul searching

 

a2

‘Annunciation’ by Sam Shendi

This month has been our ‘retreat’, cyber hibernation and other withdrawals to create time for spiritual concentration. This has not left much room for words. I posted on Monday images only, partly because I so many photographs there was not much more space for letters. Also, my whole being has slowed down and no words were appearing. I was having a blank.

On my morning walk wearing my ridiculously large ‘insect like’ sunglasses to keep out the pollen, the clouds really caught my attention. Somehow the lenses were acting like a contrast heighten button so the voluminous cotton wool like clouds looked even more impressive. I was thinking about cotton wool and how the pads you can get don’t have the same aptness for thinking of a cloud. The poetic line, ‘wander lonely as a cloud’, wandered into my mind, however the sky today was far from the image of a lonely cloud. It was a gathering for a cloud event, like a stack of candy floss before the opening of a fair. It’s magic when you can see the clouds making a shape of something. This made me think of the sculpture and his talent for making shapes out of things. He said recently that he has no imagination but a storage unit of ideas. In interviews he is often asked the question, ‘Where do you get inspiration from?’ Living with him I can verify that there seems to be an endless supply to ideas. I have never known him to have to think of an idea or to have to search or research for inspiration. He never has a blank. Creativity sits in his mind like the clouds over Yorkshire.

Clouds move, sometimes you can see it slowly, sometimes fast but it is a rare thing to have a cloudless sky over our little village on the edge of the valley. In all this cloud contemplation, I noticed to the left it was a smattering of shades of grey where as to my right it was a different scene, pure blue burst appeared in patches hinting at the suggestion of blue skies behind. If you showed someone who had never seen the sky before my view to my left they would be surprised if you said sky is blue. Sky seems even more rarely these days to be blue here in the North of England. We know that beyond the clouds is a vast expanse of ‘blue’ that we can’t see. In each of the ten sculptures for the ‘Mother and Child’ exhibition the sculptor has used blue. Colour is the key to my husband’s sculptures. They don’t merely serve an aesthetic or decorative quality, they are the meaning behind the piece. The colour is crucial to the philosophy as well as adding a lusory quality.

Colour does evoke feelings and emotions. Why does a blue sky make us feel happier than a grey and white one? We often think that are emotions are influenced by external factors when actually it is more often our thoughts that create our feelings. We are often clouded, pardon the pun, in our vision by what we see before us and are unaware of the unseen, the design behind it all. Again thinking of the sky at night, I love it when it is clear and we can see a few of the twinkling stars. But when I look upwards and see just those few stars, I remember when I had the opportunity to camp in the Serengeti, many moons ago and the awe and wonder at the littering of lights above which was a huge realisation as to how much we aren’t always able to see.

As I spend this time in spiritual practise I focus on how all these marvellous signs in nature indicate to me a creator. I am acutely aware that we don’t all share this view. We were, ‘made in tribes so that we may learn from one another’. We just don’t tend to focus on the learning and veer more towards the misunderstanding. There are so many paths up the mountain and everyone takes their own time and twists off the path. For some, their view-point may be a bit like the grey cloudy sky. They may be faced with a sheer rock face with no possible foot holes so the view of the mountain is obscured and to them non-existent. As with viewing the sculptures, behind what lies in front of us there is often a deeper meaning.

At the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

Exhibitions, Public Art

Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden
Black and White Cottage,
Standon Lane, Ockley,
Surrey RH5 5QR

Opening times
May to end of October:
Fridays and Saturdays 11am-6pm.
Sundays and Bank Holidays 2pm-5pm.

When my husband was installing these pieces he met HANNAH PESCHAR herself in person. Unfortunately this is the last year that this exhibition will run. so we are privileged to be part of it. She asked my husband what his inspiration was. My husband answered, ” it is enough just to have your eyes open and look around”. She said she had only ever heard one other person say that; Henry Moore.

HP SUMMER HOUSE

Nestled in amongst the trees the summer house, like a Hansel and Gretel hideaway

BRANCH 10 HP

The sculptural bird perched on ‘The Branch’.

BRANCH 9 HP

‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi at Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

BRANCH 8 HP

‘The Branch’

BRANCH 5 HP

RIDE 7HP

‘The Ride’ by Sam Shendi

BRANCH 7 HPBRANCH 2 HP BRANCH HP RIDE 6 HP RIDE 5 HP RIDE 4 HP RIDE 2 HP

Strange Sensations and Slow art

Colour, Connections, Exhibitions, Public Art, Soul searching

The first week of the holiday ended and I had felt smug at how well I had managed the days with the relentless rain and keeping busy. Yoga, breathing and letting it all flow working with me well. However by the second week with less yoga practice and illness I felt personal tested because the weather was so good. I had had several ideas for active boys but I have had the most odd and strange fever. It sounds dramatic but when you have an infection it is as though an alien has taken over your body. However, it makes you grateful for your health and appreciate that for some people who can be their state of being on a more permanent basis.

So for the last weekend of the holidays, feeling a little bit more normal I planned to take the boys to a local museum where I had seen a little advert for ‘slow art day’ with a child friendly image of a tortoise. I thought that would suit us all as it was about the pace I was working at – tortoise pace. When I looked into a bit more I realised it wasn’t a kids holiday making activity but an annual event celebrated around the world with the idea of taking time to look and appreciate 5 pieces of art work and then discussing it. I think this is a fab idea but I couldn’t envisage not feeling hundred percent with two boys on the run, more at a hare’s pace, in a gallery space.

This was the general theme of the holidays, having plans and then them not quite happening, always a good lesson to learn. So here are some images of our own slow art the boys did at home and over the holidays on the rainy days.

slow art

Having a first day to myself yesterday after the two-week holiday with the boys, I went for a walk and realised walking helps me to think through ideas. It enables me to hear my voice in the peaceful sounds of nature. My husband has been busy working through an idea in clay, a preparation for a larger piece. He was telling me how he has realised he carves the whole thing in his mind before hand almost like watching himself do it in his mind’s eye.

On my walk, I took a moment to sit on a bench in a field with a large oak tree and a stream running through it eat. I noticed something I hadn’t seen before, a plaque with a poem by William Henry Davis:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

So I sat, ate my apples and reflected. I am conscious I am always hurrying the boys and think about articles about ‘The hurried child’. It is important to slow down and do things at a pace that makes us appreciate. My husband is driving with loyal driver and designer Anthony Hartley to Surrey to put these pieces (images below) in the wonderful Hannah Peschar sculpture garden. So if you are in that neck of the woods (odd expression but seemed appropriate) then take a slow wander around the beautiful surroundings amongst stunning sculptures and works of art.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.Henry David Thoreau

Bird now orange

‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi

Ride now purple

‘The Ride’ by Sam Shendi

Doubts and dreams.

Exhibitions, Galleries

“I don’t believe anyone ever suspects how completely unsure I am of my work and myself and what tortures of self-doubting the doubt of others has always given me.” ― Tennessee Williams

All artists have self doubts.

My husband often has his doubts and uncertainties simultaneously with a very clear dream and extraordinarily clear talent. The moment of finding his style was a pivotal point. Not in no longer having those doubting moments but more determined.

It is amazing how just taking a moment to stop and observe can help you clear your mind. As I ate my particularly prepared porridge and looked out the window, I captured a moment. A bird perched in a tree finding shelter from the wind. How much protection it found? I wondered, as the tree danced with the movement of the strong gusts on this cold and blustery January morning.

Even within language we may not all be visualising the same thing. If we say ‘tree’, what type of tree is it. What are you thinking of? A willow drooping low and forlorn, a palm reaching energetically tall, a busy evergreen, a strong oak with branches stretching outwards. Is it a tree made out ladies legs? What concept do we have in our own mind’s eye.

bird branch

‘The Branch’ will be shown at FLUX , The Rag Factory. London. FEB 18th-22nd

It is easy to think of trees as strong and immoveable. As the numerous branches move like dancing arms outside it makes me understand that nothing remains the same. Everything is moving, flowing, shaking, changing.

I had a big writers wobble the other day after reading my brother’s newly formed blog. I had a sudden large wave of self-doubt as I compared my own skills with his, unfavourably. Immediately seeing his confident youthful writing style as superior to my own rather than thinking that it is just a different way of writing.

sketch doubts

‘A sketch’ by Sam Shendi

Perhaps a tiny slip of the deadly envy creeped in or a little bit of sibling rivalry but it didn’t last long. I don’t harbour bad and unnecessary feelings for long. Especially towards my younger brother to whom I am maternally overprotective of. I used it positively. It made me realise that I had to focus on my own style and my own direction.

Observing nature helped too, the bird in the tree. We all have moments where we doubt ourselves. The wind shakes the branches of our spirit a little. It makes us grow and develop. My brother who is writing about his recent travels, tells me he hasn’t changed. People don’t change. Perhaps travel doesn’t change us. I think though, if the experience doesn’t change us then time will. Travelling inwardly to the depths of our soul should change us. If we want to change the world then we have to start with ourselves.

with a bird

‘Conversation with a bird’ by Sam Shendi

I have read lots of beautifully brilliantly written blogs over the last four years, here are 8 I would recommend:

http://outsideairblog.com/                             https://knowthesphere.wordpress.com/

http://winterowls.com/                                  https://pathsofthespirit.wordpress.com/

https://ittosjournal.wordpress.com/              http://wharnsby.com/

https://haywardhelen.wordpress.com/         https://emmasouthlondon.wordpress.com/

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”- Robert Hughes. Perhaps. I guess it is one of those emotions, it is only human. ‘Only Human’ my husband’s exhibition at Cartwright Hall will end on 23rd February. So one more month to go and view it.

So my mantra for this month. Stop doubting and start daring to dream.

sketchbooks display

‘Sketchbooks’ on display at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

cellar gallery

‘Only Human’ exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery