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.

Here, there, everywhere, then home.

Awards, Colour, Exhibitions, Galleries, Public Art, Soul searching

It was October when I last wrote an entry here, ironically it isn’t because I haven’t been writing. Actually, I have been writing more than ever with good old fashioned pen and paper in a spiral binder from school days. Daily journaling which I am finding fulfilment and satisfaction in and a kind of cleansing as we enter into a new decade. I started to wonder as I go into the tenth year of this blog whether I should continue with it or branch out into something new but I remind myself that my intention for this was to record my husband’s journey into the art world and a little outlet for me whilst the boys were growing. With my eldest almost at my height, they are not so little anymore.

So 2019 ended well with the sculptor having two exhibitions at The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh part of The Annual Exhibition and the Open SSA+VAS exhibition. The sculptor is off to Edinburg on Saturday (tomorrow) to collect them. Some stunning photos were taken of his work in exhibition, thanks to Chris Watt (photographer) & Naomi McClure ( fellow artist in the exhibition).

Image from The Times

We were completely surprised to find out at the start of the year that he won the W Gordon Smith and Mrs Jay Gordon Smith Award for work of merit at the SSA | VAS Open 2019. So this feels like huge recognition.

In the autumn, the sculptor went to Italy to receive the first steel cut for the Cunard. This year he will set to creating and making a sculpture for the ship, the first meeting yesterday so he is just back from London, re-inspired for this huge project. He also collected work from Belgium, took some down to Oxfordshire, had a meeting in Cambridge, is getting work back from Manchester later this week and preparing for a debut back in Egypt in the spring. It is non-stop and either up and down on trains or in a hired van depending on whether sculptures are with him or not. So he is literally here, there and everywhere.

Photo by Christ Watt

I mentioned in a previous post that my own journey appears to mirror the sculptural journey. I have not ventured physically far, although my running distance and length are gradually extending and I am forever ferrying my football son to training and matches but my here, there and everywhere is more of a journey inward. As I finish up my 30 day yoga journey with Adriene YWA I am learning that I need to trust my own path. Let go of what is prescribed or following others and steer my own course. In todays yoga practice I couldn’t quite let go of the need to keep looking and watching her lead. Sometimes it can feel hard to venture off on your own path.

“Awareness returning home is awareness being enfolded by what it knows”

John De Rutter.

I also started 30 day, daily writing journal, at the beginning of the year which I think I need to try and continue the habit of, let go of the guide and listen to my inner voice. Meditations and hypnosis, reading and listening to podcasts I would also recommend to return home to yourself, for I do love winter as a time of hibernation and self development. We all take our own journey through life, we may go off in every direction, opposite and parallel. We wiggle and weave, take twists and turns but ultimately we are all heading in the same direction. The question is, what do we learn along the way?

“We are all just walking each other home.”

Ram Dass

Projects are brewing here and overseas- those twists and turns and I am positive that 2020 will bring more exciting opportunities and hopefully I will keep this little blog up to date monthly. All part of the journey.

Words flow, Words come, Words go, So I dedicate time to grow, Whilst my husband creates, Eldest plays bass, and the youngest kicks a ball at a fair pace.

Words appear, Words stick, Words release, I learn to find inner peace, Whilst my husband is prolific, Eldest plays video games-take your pick, and the youngest kicks a ball with another new trick.

Words flow, Words come, Words go. This regular morning journalling is developing a skill you know.

From Cocoon to Chrysalis. The Metamorphosis Collection

collections, Colour, Connections, Soul searching

Unintentionally I took a break from blogging in August. It strikes me that summer is a time for growth. For, the children physically, perhaps, for adults mentally. For me this summer I felt a strong need to work on self-development. I had heard that changes can happen when you turn the glorious age of 40, that shifts occur as though you are entering a new phase. I have a belief that things will fall into place for me within this decade. I didn’t realise it would be so marked.

I’ve also made a connection that my husband’s sculptural journey somehow mirrors my own life journey. So, when the boys were younger there was a heavy focus on ‘Mother and Child pieces‘, The ‘Giant collection’ when perhaps I was working through some post-natal shifts. The ‘Calligraphy collection’ as I started to outline my blog and with this latest collection during the summer months lots of links.

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly is a fascinating one and interestingly the boys love finding caterpillars and I love photographing butterflies. I think we all like seeing the positive result of change. This summer I have had time to reflect and do some work on my self, some self-realisation and feel, almost as if I am transitioning from a cocoon to the chrysalis. Meanwhile, the sculptor has been carving away at the ‘Metamorphosis collection’.

Matilda

‘Matilda’. The ‘Metapmorphis Collection’ by Sam Shendi

“Self-realisation is a strange term. You don’t actually realise your self.

If anything, you go away. The caterpillar enters a cocoon of meditation: A butterfly emerges, metamorphosis.” Frederick Lindemann

The Story begins with a very hungry caterpillar. The boys loved this book when they were little. I am totally that very hungry caterpillar and this is one of the aspects I am trying to evolve from! The next stage is spinning itself into a cocoon and within the protective casing radical transforms occurs. The Chrysalis is not a resting stage, a lot is happening. I think I am in that stage still and not yet quite the butterfly. It isn’t just about an external transformation, although I am working on that too. Trying to focus on active and healthy choices. It is the changes from within, re-working old habits, extending and expanding new thoughts and ideas. Shedding the layers physically and peeling away at the onion of our psychology.

“And so artistic creation is the metamorphosis of the external physical aspects of a thing into a self-sustaining spiritual reality.” Hans Hofmann

Victoria

“Victoria” from the ‘Metamorphosis Collection’. Sam Shendi 2019

I had some very liberating moments this summer and conversely some real trigger moments where I had some strong negative physical reactions to things which were happening. It is so important to navigate those trigger moments to understand what is happening in the sub-conscious and learning from them. To develop personal growth we need to acknowledge what we haven’t fully been willing to step into and where we are able to overcome those feelings. Like the caterpillar it is important to sacrifice who you are right now in order to see who you can become.

“I’d rather be this walking metamorphosis

than having that old formed opinion about everything.”  Raul Seixas

Anne

‘Anne’ part of the ‘Metamorphosis collection’. Sam Shendi 2019.

The butterfly isn’t necessarily the end result, just the start of the journey. One of discovery. Creativity. Exploration. Shapes of cocoons vary, yet there is something universally simplistic and beautiful about them. All the more intricate work happening within. As humans we have a tendency to focus on our exterior, our outer shell and leave our inner being under nourished. The work that goes on within us is transformative and the only real change we can make begins with ourselves.

I’ll write more about the sculptural concepts next time!

“It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: 

all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” Henry Miller