‘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 )

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Conceptual, Drawings, Making

All a bit gory in the title, but then this expression summed up the day. It started two days ago when I came home in the middle of the day and was transferring my sleeping toddler from car to house. As I made my way up the stairs I got a little spooked to see a tall figure in the kitchen out of the corner of my eye. A full size skeleton had landed. For the last couple of days the kitchen and back yard have been the workshop. So we have had body parts lying around on the worktop and kitchen table. It is not a real human I must make clear, we have not gone as far as Damien Hirst. However, it may be a bit religiously controversial but that sparks debate.

‘The Toy’

I am hesitant about putting up sketches, although it shows the working process. The sketch is the first stage, the next stage is sprawled around our house making it rather cold as the back door is open due to the drilling that has been going on. When I told my eldest son what had happened today he immediately sobbed, a mixture of empathy and worry I think. His tears were heartfelt. So this is the blood addition, whilst drilling some of the parts together, I am not sure how the drill went through the skeletal sculpture bone into my husband’s hand, Ouch! but it did. I personally thought it looked like it had just touched the bone but he merely brushed it off as the first layer of skin (think we are talking more like subcutaneous layer actually). So in true Egyptian style he simply superglued it together. Rather fortunate I just happened to buy some at the beginning of the week to glue back together a wooden frame in the boy’s room which I have been meaning to do for months.

So the Sculptor is sore but still drilling away. So what has the sweat got to do with it? All this hard work, this  piece had been the most physically exerting, and challenging. It  made me think about how we define hard work. In the Uk we are constantly on a treadmill, we seem to think that if we have ‘sweated’ hard for something then we are more deserving of it. Although people talk about work life balance, I don’t see it. The majority of people live to work.

The question of what art is also arose. My husband pointed out that the majority of his work was purely from the imagination in his head, whilst this piece is the ‘idea’, putting something that already exists in a new way. People often comment about conceptual art that, ‘they could do it’. It is ideas and concept that create debate. Of course, in my own head I am now even more concerned about the sparks that may fly about this piece. However, there is an important message behind this work.

This image below was taken earlier, I have just been called through to see the finished body on the kitchen table. 14 hours later and 72 pieces assembled. A lot of blood, sweat and tears for one day.

‘The Toy’ – in progress