Can ‘Candy’ and ‘Candid’ result in an awakening?

Colour, Philosophy, Public Art, Soul searching

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Collection of work at Newby Hall ready for installing

“The intelligent want self-control: children want candy” Rumi.

My husband took the work to Newby Hall ready for installation (Exhibition now open). A member of staff commented that the sculptures looked like sweets. They do look like candy canes. Lick-able, as though each colour would taste different. Eating sweets has been a bit of a topic of discussion recently with our boys having, had lots of parties and sweet handouts at school. So candy has been on my mind…but now it is time to start focusing on more aspirational things as we approach our month of retreat, guarding of our lower beings and those animal instincts!

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‘Awaken’ and ‘Reaching’ outside the studio

My husband did an interview for Candid magazine once which brought the word ‘Candid’ into my vocabulary a bit more. It was a great discovery. I not only like the word which sounds like candy. I like the meaning. Truthful, straightforward; frank, because I think most of the time we skirt around honesty in preference for politeness.  We ‘English’ like politeness and whilst we value honesty I am not sure we can handle candid comments very well. We want things sugar-coated and sweet. Makes me think of the line “some people can’t handle the truth” which I don’t think many of us can. We don’t want that raw reality preferring the hazy safety of polite untruths and staying within our comfort ones. Rather than thinking of our own faults we like to judge others faults before seeing their virtues. It makes us feel better about ourselves but before we do that we need to call ourselves to account. The capacity for self blame is a heathy soul and it humbles us. The importance of scrutinising ourselves and being brutally honest can often lead to an awakening.


‘Awaken’ by Sam Shendi

Awakening of a realisation of our own actions, behaviours, habits. In a secular context self-awareness has now become mindfulness which although is good practice has no moral dimensions.  As Immanual Kant said: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I see them before me and connect them immediately with the consciousness of my existence.”   The moral dimension of self-awareness includes nobleness. In the battery farm of the modern capitalist system which aim is producing eggs regularly, getting along with the other chickens and then ultimately you die and get made into cat food. The process goes on and there is no higher aspiration.  So preoccupied with all the other chickens, even mindful chickens, we are left at the level of the zoological. Yet, we were made for something higher than the lower self ‘zoo’. Nobility is what happens when we leave behind the animal desires. The thing that makes us human and not animal. Our higher being, one of virtuosity is nobel.

If we awaken to reality in this world we need to consider what we do, what we have been doing.

Forget the sweets, be honest and look at the day that is to come and hope for an awakening.

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‘Awaken’ by Sam Shendi currently showing at Newby Hall, Ripon

(reference T.J Winters, Cambridge University)

Deep thought of the day, what are you reaching for?


As I write the title I suddenly realise many people may be reaching for the end of the working week, the bottle, the next bar of chocolate, the next holiday. We do all reach for that comfort but what are we blocking out.

I have been a bit pre occupied these last couple of weeks not blocked with writer’s block but literally with ‘block’ blocks in researching minecraft parties. I am going all out this year with a Minecraft themed home party for our soon to be 8-year-old. Family birthdays, lots of sculpture events happening and a very busy sculptor means I find it harder to sit and write. Perhaps, just an excuse really however as this next week is half term I am trying to get this written before having the boys and really no time for writing.

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‘Reaching’ by Sam Shendi outside the studio

I have had a few conversations recently about ambition. What it means and why some of us have it and some of us seem to lack it. In conversations with my husband I reach for the dictionary. I must have had the foresight to know it would be useful to request it from a dear friend when we got married and she wanted gift suggestions. The definition of ambition is ‘an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honour, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment’.

My husband thinks he wasn’t ambitious as a child. He didn’t aim to achieve what he has achieved thus far more a determination to better his situation perhaps. In my mind he is definitely ambitious to fulfil a dream but more crucially has the unbelievable determination to strive for its attainment. Meanwhile, I like being in the presence of that ambition and almost make it become my own in many ways but  power, honour, fame, wealth have very little interest for me. I don’t have the drive to reach further or the ability to sustain any determination not for things materialistically. I have a very circular way of thinking. Say like taking a further step my writing into writing a book then I wonder why? for what reason? My mind goes into a spiral of being able to talk myself out of it.

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‘Reaching’ can be seen at Newby Hall, Ripon. June-September ’15

We live in a world where success is often measured in material wealth and possessions. Although we do need those to a certain extent in this western world, aiming to achieve your dreams is something quite different. I guess it is all about purpose. What is our purpose in life. I am too much of a day-dreamer, my personal ambition is reaching into the realms of spiritualism, for something beyond this world…. but I guess it is ok to have these lofty ambitions when your husband is working hard on the ground!!  So this Friday thought is. What are we reaching for? Why are we reaching for it?

Yesterday the sculptor took this piece along with several others in a new collection to  Newby Hall, Ripon. N.Yorkshire. So if you are looking for some inspiration, a wander in the grounds of an 18th century house, something to do over the summer the exhibition will run from the 1st June ’15 until the end of the season – 27th September ’15. 

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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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:                                               

“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.

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‘Sketchbooks’ on display at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

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‘Only Human’ exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

Conversation with a bird

Making, Philosophy, Soul searching, Uncategorized

the bird

My husband has been at the studio rediscovering an old material. I always felt that having a studio space would change his practice and it is doing. In various ways this piece is impressive and has caused an interesting reaction on his social media networks. It has provoked between us conversations about the importance of what sculpture is made from, the impermanence of a material, the weight of a piece. When I see some of the things that are taken in galleries as ‘sculpture ’I do wonder why for this piece it can’t be the end result. However, for this to go outdoors then it would probably need to be cast into something more durable. What is it made from? What is the material? What do you think?

 woman on side

The other evening when my husband showed the boys and I images of the piece, our eldest boy immediately saw the knees, said it was a woman sitting, talking to a bird. So the discussion around our kitchen table brought about the title for the piece.


I am in constant awe at the talent my husband has, it doesn’t diminish with time. He just gets better. The work is deeper and the ideas expand. However, this is an old style and theme of his but a different scale and medium and the addition to the colour makes it for me simply divine.  The frustration is that this type of work evokes this response more than the other more costly more conceptual pieces. It is less designer and more ‘created’. For me it’s the talent of his sculpting, seeing the result of his hand on the work. The creator.


conversation with birdI found the solution to my strange foreboding feeling and an answer to my ‘waspishness’ and pulled in a million directions. This piece kind of encapsulates it for me. We can often feel up and down, it is a natural rhythm to our human struggle. We search for something to fill the void. We turn to things to fill a need but they don’t satisfy.  We turn outwardly to the world. We need that conversation with a bird. We must commune with nature. We must turn within and focus our hearts on remembrance. Ultimately there is only one thing that can give us a natural high. The divine. We must turn to our creator.


The souls of sculptures

Colour, Conceptual, Soul searching

I squealed with delight when I saw these last week. First in their bare metal, the folds and obvious faces and figures. Very appropriate for this month where we strengthen our souls and lower our desires for worldly gains and test our strength of spirit.

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“The older I get I realize people are not always as they seem. I realize the true meaning of humanity. However hard I try I am always sucked in with the society and from time to time the routine of life drains me. In these new pieces there is a hidden sculpture within each one. Each is different and will be presented in its own individual colour. They somehow hold a secret hidden within. The viewer needs to see it, decide what it used to be before. Like souls, somehow you know they belong to something, to shapes and it feels like these pieces are souls of sculptures. They used to be the form of a sculpture, but the soul of the sculpture is what I am trying to represent and for the viewer to decide how it should look. I agree, you might see a lump of crushed steel, heavy and maybe not up to health and safety standards. However. Like a sentence you are trying to read between the lines of, or looking deeper into the shape rather than the outline. These pieces are under the theme of the expression ‘Don’t judge the book by its cover’. Sam Shendi”

I doubted how they would be any better in colour.  For me they are a fantastic mixture of abstract, figurative, colour, minimalism but they are also  symbolic of the state we are in.  There are so many more words I could write about these but will save for when we have some professional pictures.  See for yourself for now;

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‘Ready for photo shoot’

On the edge

Making, Soul searching

‘On the edge’

This work was the pre-cursor work I mentioned in a recent blog using plinth and figure which has now  grown into the new work of abstract figure and plinth blended together. The philosophy of the work has also taken on a more abstract but more cheerful approach.

Perhaps this is visually a little depressing but it doesn’t have to be viewed that way. Sometimes we need to take that plunge into the unknown for a glorious ‘after plunge’. Being deep in thought can be lonesome but it can also be uplifting. We sometimes need that time to rebalance ourselves. Gather our thoughts and re-address. I’ve backtracked a little by putting this image up but it seemed very appropriate to our current situation. My husband is ‘waiting’ which requires a calm, a patience and serenity. These are not his forte but he is so far managing well with it. He is so busy juggling business and the art world and making a large body of new work. There are two or three exciting projects happening from next week but it is whether something will come from these that gives him the next boost. Again, he is sitting on the edge of ‘something’. In any pursuit of a goal, though, there is a constant reaching a peak and therefore always being on the edge. It is unfortunately the nature of clambering after a dream. If this is my husband then, I am stood just a little to the side, looking out to what is ahead hopefully reassuring that the next mountain is not so high. There is, or can be someone behind us, to the side of us or indeed above us to support, guide and encourage.