Who on earth was Anthony Bourdain?

collections, Philosophy, Soul searching, Uncategorized

Last Friday, towards the end of my month long self-imposed ban on social media (which I have not been very good at adhering to). I saw a dramatically written little square which caught my attention and thinking space. Grief. Weeping and outpouring. Someone had died.


Widow, 2017 Rudimentary Collection. Sam Shendi

There were several posts about this apparent icon. Anthony Bourdain. I had never heard of him. Ignorant or not, whichever camp you are in. I had to look him up on the internet. A Chef. Some of the images and comments about him made me think of my husband in certain ways. The life experience and the stories. I hadn’t heard of his books or seen any of his TV shows. I wondered fleetingly, why there was such an outpouring of despair over one man whom people probably hadn’t even met, when thousands are killed, bombed, persecuted everyday.

There is often that collective overwhelming emotion when something tragic happens, shock, confusion, empathy and probably a whole host of other sentiments. A sudden awareness that life is fragile and nothing is permanent. If we can focus on being mindful in the moment and grateful, the more we can appreciate those precious moments and find the true meaning of being happy.

That very same Friday afternoon I found out my son’s year six teacher was leaving the school. I was shocked and saddened that my youngest son wouldn’t get the golden nuggets of teaching my eldest has received. Preparing him for secondary school with confidence, self belief and optimism. Whilst I know and I am sure there are lots of good teachers, some people are just irreplaceable. I also felt deeply dissapointed that my youngest sport-loving boy wouldn’t have this amazingly sporty teacher. Despite that, it’s a couple of years before my son would have been in her class and who knows what will happen between now and then. We could even move- who knows what can happen in that space of time. I related my strong and almost violent emotion about this news to what I had been reading that morning. I really had to try and sit with my feelings and find out why I was so emotional. It was almost  parallel, so who was I to judge someone else’s overt emotion. I was feeling the same and it wasn’t even death.

This piece entitled, ‘Widow’ captures grief. It suggests the female form and there is a strong femininity about the piece. For me it is my favourite of the Rudimentary collection. When I see this piece I am reminded of a friend, not only because she is a widow but because of a memory I have from when we were young. We were canoeing on the canal and a swan, protecting her nest swam up to my friend and started pecking at her. No matter how frantic and aggressive swans can be there is an elegance, tranquility and beauty about the swan. The arch of the neck hangs down in a graceful sorrow. In mythology the swan was sacred to Venus, goddess of love. Death is all the more tragic because of love. When we love something it is hard to let it go.

Departure is very different from death but perhaps a grief still the same. Yet change is enevitable and very much a part of life. In the end everything comes to an end.

Who was Anthony Bourdain? I didn’t know him but I think when someone dies, suddenly, tragically, at a point in time where we had pressumed no expectation of that passing away, it is wake up call to and/or for ourselves. A realisation and a reminder that we don’t know when we will take our last breath. It is a journey, actually the only certain one, one which we are most often ill prepared for.

When striving for success in a career in this earthly domain it can come at a cost. It seems it did for Bourdain. It often does for artists and I know it is often a struggle for my husband who sacrifices a lot for time in the studio. A creative life doesn’t exist in a straight line and there is a risk of the unknown. Jamie Aaron states in his 11 things highly creative people sacrifice for their art, “They sacrifice the life people told them they should have for a life they love, a life that is inspiring and thrilling. Because that’s the whole point. To create is a privilege, one that artists know not to take for granted. To deny a conventional life is a risk, but not as great a risk as to deny their heart.”

Serendipitously we watched Disney’s ‘Coco’ last night after a month of not watching television (we were a bit more successful at that abstention). The story was about the inhabitants of the land of dead, the unseen world depicted gloriously in this animation, being able to pass back over into the land of living for one day, if they have been remembered by tributes. The main character has to question ‘what form of legacy matters the most and whether our personal ambitions can successfully coexist alongside our commitment to loved ones’. The main song gives a message of how important it is to remember those that have passed away.

“Remember me, though I have to say goodbye
Remember me, don’t let it make you cry
For even if I’m far away, I hold you in my heart
I sing a secret song to you each night we are apart
Remember me, though I have to travel far
Remember me, each time you hear a sad guitar
Know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
Until you’re in my arms again, remember me

Remember me, for I will soon be gone
Remember me, and let the love we have live on
And know that I’m with you the only way that I can be
So, until you’re in my arms again, remember me”

Life is a spiritual experience by the very nature of being conscious, by being aware. The sculptor’s work often explores the idea that the body is simply a vessel. We are essentially souls experiencing the world through the body. But the soul is unseen. So perhaps death is simply the end of the body in this world. The soul returns.

“For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.” Kahlil Gibran




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I typed ‘Departed’ and just saw ‘dead’ written next to it. Very final. I had been thinking more along the lines of ’embarking on a journey’ or ‘leaving the station’ – that kind of departed. The film, ‘The Departed’ perhaps. The lamb I saw in the road today, very much alive and annoying the farmer had departed from the field. Hadn’t it? It wasn’t dead, anyway – not yet.

Last week I ‘departed’ facebook for a month. Now I am wondering whether to completely come off it or will I slip back into the addictive social scrolling. Perhaps my internet persona on facebook is dead? In a world where we increasingly spend more time in a virtual reality, what becomes real and not real, what is seen and unseen? I won’t know how many facebook hits I get on this post. Will that bother me? Does it make it less real that people could potentially be reading my little blog post. Does it even matter if anyone is reading it. Not really, I guess.

Departing social media really is a tenuous link to this piece and doesn’t do it justice. What matters in the end is the good we leave behind in the world after we have departed. And when we have departed, where are you going? So ponder these ideas whilst you look at the shape, the line, the curve, the balance, the colour and particularly the shadows. Abstraction can be based on reality, just broken down to the very minimal and it is up to the viewer to see beyond. To visualise the deeper meaning of what is in front of you and find the unseen.

Memories are made of this

Colour, Soul searching

So many things to write about from the past

Perhaps though best

to sit and look and reflect

with prompts of words
Form,  Figure, Shadows, Style,

Signatures, interpretation, Calligraphy,

Titles, human, movement, body and more

viewing from different angles to exploreMemories 2

memories 3

memories 4

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‘MEMORIES’ by Sam Shendi, 2015

Language for the mind in recalling

Thoughts for the soul in remembering

Knowledge for the brain in retaining

Ideas for the spirit in recollection

Prayer for the body in remembrance

Memories are made of this

memories 5 memories 6 memories 7

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.

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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.

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.

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‘Sketchbooks’ on display at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

cellar gallery

‘Only Human’ exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

Hollow Man

Colour, Philosophy, Soul searching, Steel
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‘Body Language’

This outline flows likes a ribbon, so curvaceous . It is a simply stunning piece. A beautiful start to a new collection of work entitled ‘Body Language’. It looks to me like a candy cane, you can imagine licking it and tasting different flavours depending on where your tongue touched.

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‘Body Language’

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‘Body Language’

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‘Body Language’

The shadows created also provide images in themselves. To the untrained eye, perhaps the figures is not as easy to see in this piece as in the more geometric structures of his work. However, this piece combines both what has been my husbands preoccupation structurally with ‘outline’ and minimising the human form and the exploration of the philosophical questions of human essence and ideas of the body as a vessel.

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‘Body Language’

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‘Body Language’

Stripping away at the content to make a sculptural outline of the figure, like a line drawing in three dimensions. This new work is about the abandoning of body and focusing purely on the line or edge of ourselves.  Which leaves the subject as hollow. Man is essentially hollow. If we imagine that the body is a container, then it needs filling. We naturally search to fill the void, to find substitutes for that hollow space. The tragedy of the modern age is that we fill ourselves with everything that distracts us from where we need to look to find real satisfaction.

You can currently see this piece along with a number of other pieces at ‘Forsters’, City Park, Bradford, Yorkshire.



Very exciting to read a first review following a successful first northern solo exhibition. So interesting to read someone else writing about the work. So happy the pieces were understood and the concept achieved its aim. Let’s hope it is the start of many. Find the link below and words from it underneath



Review: Souls by Sam Shendi

Sam Shendi, whose current show Souls is residing at the FYC gallery as part of the Venn Projects curatorial steering, is a mass of contradictions. The contradictory aspect of the show is in fact is a key to its success.

The bright and, at first viewing, superficial work is in fact full of depth and the directness of the primary colours have a resonance beyond their initial impact. A series of compacted metal may be a mundane media yet it has an allure beyond its material.

The award winning sculptor, Shendi, creates in Souls a series of oblong sculptures from crushed metal which are then painted vivid eye-blasting colours. It’s a very attractive series of work on a purely visual level, but it is when one spends a little time with the sculptures that the real strength of the works surface.

Within the formal setting of the FYC’s white cube gallery space Shendi’s works offer a reflective experience that once entered into allows the inner tales of the sculptures to speak. The harsh lines and jagged metal cube-like shapes start to morph into forms within the folds of the work. Light which shines off the hard gloss finish alter the sculptures into masses of faces; the first thing the human mind tries to form from any unresolved shapes. It’s an arresting experience to see these faces appear. Our brains fill in the gaps and create these ‘souls’ that the show seeks to explore.

The use of colour is very particular in the work, as primal responses to the garish tones augment our experience. With the meditative approach that Shendi hopes we will use to view the work, comes an inner interaction as we are drawn to the ever-shifting forms.

We are almost as important as the work with our part of the viewing. This is true of course of most art, the viewer gets as much as they put into the work, but Shendi’s work has an immediacy that almost drags the eye into and around the pieces.

It’s an assured collection of work that speaks of the confidence of both the artist’s message and his faith in his work. It is this confidence which gives you an innate understanding of your place in the exchange of viewer and object/art. You will almost automatically take your time to view and interact with the work. It’s a must see and a great success for the FYC.

Souls is on at the FYC Gallery on Church Street until 6 June.

Family Tree

Exhibitions, Relationships, Soul searching

family tree

The Family has been a subject of exploration in recent sculptures, with two different styles, one in ‘the beginning’ collection and this one in the ‘Souls’ collection.

It represents the idea that within the family we can have a full spectrum of personalities and characters. The family is a microcosm of the community and the globe. If we could live in harmony and peace with our loved ones, be accepting of our differences and celebrate them but realise and honour our similarities we would understand the same principles that bond and unite us as the human race. So much of the world looks at the dark side, to the negative, the qualities which separate us. It casts a shadow.

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My son once asked me which was the most important part of a tree. I think I quickly answered off the cuff the seeds but at 6 years old he said “No Mama” it’s the roots. Such is the wisdom of children. We need to build and strengthen our ties. Focus on the roots and the branches will flourish. We can stand tall and proud supporting each other.

family tree 2

‘Souls’ is opening this evening in Blackpool from 6pm and the exhibition runs for 4 weeks. Venn Projects, FYC Gallery  (Open Mon, Wed, Fri 10am-4pm. Please contact the gallery direct on 01253 477147, if travelling distances, to ensure it is open to the public)



‘As the birds wake in the dawn and the sun begins to rise, the soul is more in tune with the supernatural.

It can be strange sleeping in a different place, sounds and sights less experienced. In London last weekend a loud thud woke me from my sleep, I visualised a lorry over turning, sliding and landing with a bang. I heard the birds chirping their dawn chorus amist the unnatural flashing neon lights.  My first thought was that the refuse collectors were picking up the rubbish. With grinding sounds, beeps and distressed noises which disturbed the natural order, I realised it was too early and got up and looked out the window. Fire engines and police cars were the ones flashing their lights but I couldn’t see an incident. I moved to another room to see the trauma yards from the house. Several fire officers and paramedics trying to cut their way into a car which was not too far from the window having brought down the garden fence. Not sure if I should be watching but riveted to the spot I watched as they took off the crumpled car door. A man’s body inside. Once through the metal barrier they slide him out in seconds. Surprised that they didn’t then whisk him away to the ambulance, I peered through the break in the blind as they cut off his clothes and left his exposed chest for what seemed a while and I feared he had died on impact or on the extraction from what was his car.

I wondered if his soul was hovering above at my window in the mystical morning of early hours. There was a slight movement of the arm and I realised he was still alive,they finally covered him after putting in an intravenous drip, tube down his airways and practically operating in the middle of the street. Whilst people around slept unbeknown to them the amount of people assisting in this incident on the street below. I thought about all the people doing ‘their job’ for the emergency services and how they unwind and clear their mind after such emotional and visual experiences.

Once the ambulance left with the man safely on board. I went back to bed and sleep finally came. I floated out on the street like a voyeur, one of the woman came over and hugged me and I whispered how amazing the work they had all done but it turned into a tight grip and she asked me why I hadn’t done more to help. I woke and wondered whether the whole thing had been a dream but in the bright sunshine of the sunday morning the remains of the scene proved it had happened.

In the light of day the ghosts of the night were no longer there. The streets were cornered off with tape and the ruins of the fence lay littered around the crushed metal and broken glass that was once a moving vehicle. A possession. A means of getting us quickly from one place to another. It made me think about how we put so much value on our possessions when they can be crushed instantly and rendered useless. Our precious souls on the other hand we take for granted. Bodies saved by the many who work in professions which call upon a kind of heroism that goes sometimes unnoticed.  Our physical being so vulnerable, so easily crushed but so resilient, ultimately only the creator knows when our body is to be crushed, no longer of this world. Our soul to be returned.’

Exhibition of ‘Souls’ in three weeks time in Blackpool. So, if you haven’t managed to get to an exhibition in London because you live in the North of England now is your chance to view the pieces which ‘invite the viewer to delve into their own imagination and think deeply about their own existence.’

Souls exhibition



Last year I began the year very organised with full year calendar and planning, dates in the diary. This year I haven’t even got a 2014 calendar yet. My husband has been as busy as ever, making and creating where as I feel I have ground to a halt and hibernated for far too long. I have slowed down almost to a stand still and feel sluggish and most sloth like. I don’t know if I have a kind of writers block but I am struggling to write, to find time to write.

The new collection of work my husband has been working on is stunning. Visually electric with colour , the shapes and balance have a wow factor. The links to previous work are still there but it’s a slightly different style. Actually it’s an old design from a sketch book from years ago and a maquette he made from wood which we had outside our house for a while. It was always one of my favourite styles. So I am really happy we now have a set of three under the theme of ‘The beginning’. I need to begin to start to rejuvenate myself and start a new beginning.

This one is ‘The Kiss’ a contemporary, modern version of a theme explored by sculptors and artists since ‘the beginning‘. This week is ‘valentine’s’, not something I want to dwell on as I think it is a commercial gimmick. However, it is important to remember the importance of ‘the kiss’ each and every day when we give our children kisses, our parents and our loved ones. It brings about a sense of peace and happiness. So begin the day with a kiss.


‘The Kiss’

kiss from front

‘The Kiss’ appearing in the shadow

Selling our ‘Souls’

Colour, Soul searching, Steel

I think this is longest time I haven’t written an entry and I have been trying to figure out why.

 Festivities, family visitors, foggy brain, I just haven’t had the time to finish a post I started in December or to think through what I needed to say. So I have abandoned my ‘seasons greetings’ and moved into the ‘January blues’ and finally on a quiet Sunday I can write about ‘consumption’. The disease that took many was named ‘consumption because helpless bystanders  saw the dying consumptive facing night sweats and chills, paroxysmal cough, which spread the disease to other organs of the body, and of course, the wasting away.

To consume comes from the Latin consūmere to devour.  (v. t.) To destroy, as by decomposition, to waste; to burn up; to eat up; to devour. In old english ‘consumer’ meant the devil. Like fire consumes wood, the devil would consume the souls of men. It is the nature of the demonic realm, ‘profligate people are brethren of the devil’.

I have realised that I have spent the last month and a half ‘consuming’. Devouring food, in taking caffeine, an active consumer buying presents, shopping, to waste time watching television, facebook. Swept along with society. To me it seems that is what the month of December is now based on, these apparently shared values of “consumerism,”  and “pleasure” and idea that the world is created basically for play and entertainment.

January means we are suffering from the over indulgence of December as we try to reign back the wildness of our lower selves. We have sold our higher level of being to ‘consumption’ and so we slowly destroy ourselves, waste away slowly. January feels long and dark as we look forward to spring to detox, cleanse ourselves and search for light of our ‘souls’ to return. So that we don’t “sell our souls” to the devil.

My point of all these references is that, we sold the 5 ‘souls’ which were in exhibition at The Royal British Sculptor Society and so all these pieces now have a new home. So there is a happier more positive outcome to my reason for writing but the point is we mustn’t forget to take care of our soul, for that is the nature that makes us human.

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 These pieces to allow the viewer to look within the sculpture instead of just at the outline of the sculpture. Looking at the pattern, our mind tricks us into seeing certain shapes that represent familiar objects that our eye and brain recognise, for example, faces. Somehow, its like staring at the clouds and you can see shapes, figures, animals objects. You know it doesn’t exist that it is your imagination tricking you. Perhaps this is why  these pieces are entitled ‘Souls’; as some of us believe that souls exist and some of us don’t. 

The more you stare at the pieces, the more faces you see and it feels like there is a lot within and I guess this depends on how deep your imagination can go. The ‘Soul’ is something for the imagination, you don’t see it, feel it , taste it, or measure it. Using the colours somehow activates these ‘Souls’ and breathes life in to the pieces, also making the heavy steel weightless.The block of solid mild steel used are car panels from classic british racing Raleigh cars. I believe our souls are weightless too. It is easy to describe emotions with colours and it is fascinating that universally we share the same emotions but to different degrees. White to present innocence. Green for hope. Black for hate. Blue for sorrow. Red for violence. All sorts of colours could represent the emotion or experience we go through.

 The aim was to create the most minimalistic object to present the human being, without the container we call the figure.  Our bodies don’t present who we are. Our personality and our decisions is what makes us who we are and this vessel holds these qualities in until our organs are no longer able to maintain them. Perhaps the viewer can relate themselves to one of the ‘souls’ or find parts of themselves within them all. Engage with them emotionally by the simplest means possible.