Creativity, Imagination, Creation

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

 

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‘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.

Celebrating this time of year with sculpture

Exhibitions, Galleries, Mother and Child, Old Masters

Relief. I didn’t make use of the fact it is also a sculptural term. It doesn’t stop though does it. Relief comes and then it’s back to it, there is no rest. The sculptor was back up again in the early hours to load the van and make the journey down to London. This time for an exhibition at The Royal College of Art. ‘Royal’ somehow makes everything sound more prestigious. We shall find out.

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‘The Seed’ by Sam Shendi

He is exhibiting new work which is an exciting theme and style. It harps back to work he made after university. More curvaceous, softer and less abstracted. It echos work of the 1900’s figurative sculpture but with a contemporary modern coating of colour. The germination of many ideas.

The pieces are to be exhibited alongside a huge range of artists in a large group show entitled ‘Flux’ which he has been involved with before. With two previews and various meetings alongside it’s another few days stay away and so I’m back in charge of the business and this time in-amongst nativity and carol concerts, festive songs and lullabies. Someone recently made a comment that these pieces reminded them of Mary (Mariam), mother of Jesus. There is no religious connotations to these pieces but it is interesting what it brings out in people.

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‘Lullaby’ by Sam Shendi

At a time when the focus of the Christmas story gets lost in the chaos of consumerism, commercials and Claus I am trying to speak with the boys about the similarities and differences between faiths. What this time of year is really about and why. The other evening whilst having bedtime stories we were talking about the importance of Mariam, a righteous and honourable woman and an example and sign for all people. My eldest always surprising me, pointed out that we are all one family really, we are all brothers and sisters in humanity. Those were his words. How those innocent, heartwarming and important child-uttered wisdom’s get buried as we grow up and start looking at differences and divisions.

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‘Bedtime Stories’ by Sam Shendi

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‘Alert’ by Sam Shendi

The sculptors work encourages these ideas of sameness and humanity. We all have a body in which we house our emotions and we share those same responses of anger, doubt, envy, fear, sadness, joy, love, hope. So at this time of year; for those enjoying the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals, or celebrating festivals of light, or just because of the tradition of having up a stocking or those focusing on the birth of Jesus or the birth of a newborn in the family, finding out your pregnant, or for those mourning a loss, finding this time of year a challenge as we move through this season into a new Gregorian year let us remember the focus of family and unity and join together and transition in the emotions of hope and peace.

flux

Transporting transformation

Exhibitions, Galleries, Soul searching
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‘Witness’ by Sam Shendi. In show at Adrien/Kavachinina, Paris

There is a bite in the air, the season is changing. As my eldest son and I drove to swimming lessons the other night we spotted trees turning from their summer green into autumn shades. We saw a miraculous site of birds glistening in the sunset like pieces of glitter floating in one contained space. My son described them like ticks using his hands and saying it’s how Baba makes birds, he was transfixed. The shift from summer to autumn always feels more significant to me then any other season. It’s a reminder that all things fade away. We also had news this weekend of a family member in Egypt passed away. Deeply saddening, life changing news. But, there is always change. A kind of transportation, from one realm to another. Transformation.

“When change visits your life, you can be sure things are turning for the better. It may not look that way in the very moment change arrives, but if you will wait a while and have faith in the process, you will see that this is true.” (Taken from someone-lost the reference)

I have been thinking about this as my link to the transportation of sculptures. We’ve done so many trips to London (I write we but it’s the sculptor, the sculptures). I just sort out the congestion charges and ‘wo’-man the shop. Over the summer ‘we’ ventured into Europe with ‘a man with a van’ for exhibition in Germany. The sculptor flew out to meet them and then back out to pack them up. In a quick turn around ‘we’ then had pieces going to Paris.

I had a whimsical fantasies of going as well. In fact with this trip the sculptor didn’t go. We relied on the driver taking them to the gallery and the unload and unwrap happening without my husband. The exhibition opened last Friday. But really that is much more cost effective than having to fly out to meet the sculptures on the other side. It’s amazing how memories can take us to a place though. Thinking of Paris transports me to a time in my early twenties, still searching for myself. I took myself off with a black and white SLR and not enough warm clothing for a February weekend in Paris. Consequently the cold somehow lured me into a ‘Coiffeurs’ and I came out with my hair red.

‘The Girl next Door'

‘The Girl next Door’ by Sam Shendi now showing in Paris

Well as I reminisce, the reality of this trip was that the driver had problems finding the gallery so I had to practise my very rusty A-level French with a hotel reception staff which our gallery contact number went through to. I couldn’t ‘unlock the language’ and was a little disheartened, when he asked me if I preferred to speak English and he continued to speak in received pronunciation.

Aphrodite

‘Aphrodite’ by Sam Shendi

Yesterday the sculptor was  down to London and back to take ‘Aphrodite’ to Passion of Freedom. At the end of the week he will be back down again for the opening and picking up other pieces to then go somewhere else. At the moment my husband is almost constantly on the road. I am loosing track as to where pieces are! The difficulty with sculpture is the cost and space of moving them from place to place. Transporting them.

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Setting up at Mall Galleries, London

There is something about the space that transforms the sculptures. Having space around them to be able to view from different angles makes all the difference to sculpture. Space, dimensions and time all have connections both in sculpture and thinking. Which links me nicely back to this autumn days which have come around so fast again. This year has past by me again making me reflect that I am still waiting for that moment of transformation. When I am totally in the present and not wishing away time or clock watching, waiting for the next milestone or event. I am definitely better at it than I was. The best of thinking is to reflect on creation ‘How am I’? Taking ourselves into account, especially when we don’t know what the future holds. If poetry, art, sculptures helps to give us those gentle remind us then it’s a useful vehicle. The chrysalises gradually transforms into the butterfly. Transporting us from one way of thinking to the next.

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‘Madame Butterfly’ currently at Newby Hall, Ripon

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

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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. 

The Rhythm of Life

Colour, Exhibitions, Public Art, Soul searching
One perspective of 'The Bow'

One perspective of ‘The Bow’

Colours of 'The Bow'

Colours of ‘The Bow’

Perspective can be everything. In order to make myself see the positive I am starting with the highs of summer. At the beginning we had some glorious weather and plays in the park. We had good days out walking to waterfalls, scarecrow festivals and train journeys to a new city. We were together with family and friends. We played with Lego, had picnics and tumbled around. I had energy. The second half has seen a dip in my energy is levels and my patience has been none existent on some days mirrored by the weather with more overcast cloudy days rain. As the six-week school holidays draw to a close I berate myself for getting cross and now at the end  I feel mournful of the times I clocked watched and marked off the days on the calendar in achievement. As I was reading a fellow bloggers entry to break from writing and gain inspiration I related to a similar idea about the idea of what we chose to let our memories focus on and how that can influences our thinking. I am therefore being mindful to focus on all the positive things I have done with my boys this summer at home.

Rhythm of the Bow

‘Rhythm of The Bow’

The sculptor has been busy setting up his first solo exhibition and public art pieces in the park. Beautiful images were taken and it felt such a good achievement. Then we had another dip as despondency set in on discovering the outdoor pieces were getting ‘worn and torn’ much quicker than we anticipated because of people climbing and jumping on them. We debated whether they should be taken out, that the cost of upkeep was going to be too much. A few alterations made, they are there to stay but highlighted a need of education about art in public spaces but also the interest physically in the art. Bringing us back up we successfully sold five pieces in one fell swoop to one collector and so we are very excitedly putting plans in motion for a big trip to Egypt in December. A well-earned holiday, time with Egyptian family and something to look forward to for us all.

'The Bow'

‘The Bow’

 

There are rainy days and sunny days and blessings in them both. There are highs and lows in life and wisdom in it all. Rhythm and flow occurs throughout our day, week, month and the whole year changes. In the midst of it we can appreciate those daily rhythms, depending on our perspective. Change can be welcome or sometimes unsettle us. There is a change in the air as summer ends, school starts and autumn approaches.

Section of 'The Bow'

Section of ‘The Bow’

Something can be constant. We all have something which becomes our aim, what governs our lives and can sometimes dictate the way we focus our day. We all have something that structures the rhythm of our day. In effect what we submit too.

‘The Bow’ at Damside Mill In Haworth,below, see it next at Saltaire Arts Festival as part of the Sculpture Trail. September  Sat 13 – Sun 14 2014 1.00pm to 4.30pm Free Entry.

'The Bow' at Damside

‘The Bow’ at Damside

 

Journeys

Making, Philosophy, Soul searching, Steel

…..And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Robert Frost poem ‘The road not taken’ has always been one of my favourites, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference could be an epithet of my husband’s and mine. It is starting to become clearer that the creative process is a journey. Not that we didn’t know that, but we are at point where we can reflect backwards and look forwards more. My husband’s work is truly evolving, progressing in a way which seems meant to be.

His work started in clay, because that was what we could afford and with space limitations, the scale we could manage. So his hands gave form to clay.

'image from one of my very first blog entries of the making process'

‘image from one of my very first blog entries of the making process’

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‘Early Clay work’

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‘Mother & Child’, example of the focus on outline

He always talked to me about his attempts to produce an outline.  Distinctly remembering a co-student at university who was doing beautiful paintings but putting a black line around everything, when the tutor had commented that, that isn’t how we see things, the student replied back , it was how he saw things. Thus began my husband’s obsession with trying to create the black outline of a 3D object. Almost an annihilation of the body and form and a preoccupation of what makes it so. Theses paintings show the idea and the exploration of that a line gives.

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Mother and Child painting

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‘Black outline with colour’

My own personal spiritual journey mirrors that of the sculptural journey,  removing the focus on our body and form and seeking a deeper meaning and purpose to this life. So with the clay sculptures it was very much about the light and shadow and minimising the human form with curvature. With a little bit of expansion into wood, he developed a series of wooden forms with small figurines exploring the human condition but still looking at the idea of the outline that was being created. The more we strip away at our own personal desires and take away the superficial aims of money and materials, what are we here for?

‘Wood and figurine’

As a teenager my time working in a nursing home for the elderly gave me a stark reality that the time here is fleeting and that in old age we physically become a shadow of ourselves in youth. There must be a deeper meaning to it all. As we verge on the cusp of our spiritual retreat, precious days to focus on our hearts. Time to reassess, re-prioritize and recognize the most important things in our lives.  To understand what we are doing here. “Where, then, are you going?”

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‘at a crossroads’

With the meeting of a steel fabricator there was movement into a new medium, enabling the shape of the human figure to be minimised more. In almost a fusion of the clay work and the wooden work a new series was created. The light and shadow create the outline in much of this pyramidal and obelisk work.

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‘Steel minimisation of the human form’

The addition of colour became a uniting tool for the journey of sculptures and enabled another layer of meaning to be visual presented. Emotions and ideas, the sculptures now in a state of consciously making us ask questions.

family tree

‘Family Tree’

‘Souls’ became the laconic title of the next body of work but in this case the souls of sculptures compressed into the minimal form. If our human body is like the clay then the soul is a distinct other entity within the human framework and has three states of existence, base desire, that which our bodies need to survive, secondly the soul in a state of consciousness when we start questioning and discerning and a final stage  where one is at peace and rest. The purification and development from the first to the third is a life long pursuit. A wrestling between each stage, a honing and a shaping of our inner reality.

Evolution and maquette

‘Evolution’ maquette and final piece

Stripping the figure right down to its most minimalistic form resulted in the ‘Evolution’ both in the title of this piece and the progression into a new theme of work. In keeping with the philosophy of our bodies being merely a vessel for the energy that makes us. What are we without our bodies. Taking away the matter, the material and focusing on what gives us shape.

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‘Wedding Dress’ combination of minimal form and mannequin parts

The college effect of using steel and mannequin parts also another part of the journey that came about from the idea of mixing both realism and minimalism together. It can sometimes be a struggle, living in day-to-day reality whilst maintaining a connection with an unseen reality but the reward is endless.

‘The Smoker’ became a turning point for a new idea. Using car exhaust parts to form an idea, an outline.

smoker 1

‘smoker’

In nature there is no outline, all that is created is seen by what appears in front or behind. What is the reality of what we are seeing? We only see an edge because of the layers of things. So the line of the house I see outside the window is only visible because of the clouds behind it. In these images of new work not yet finished (so a sneak preview) the beginning of a new stage in the development of the sculptural journey can be seen. A new material enabled an exploration of ideas, in full circle a return to the initial curvature and idea of line . It redefines or explores further the idea of the outline, taking it to the next level in abandoning the matter within completely and focusing purely on the edge.

sketch and parts

‘Sketch and parts’

'Sketch and line'

‘Sketch and Line’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reflects the spiritual journey of focusing on our true self, the ethereal essence within us which ultimately outlasts the earthen vessel carrying us throughout this realm of our existence and onto the next. It is certainly a way of seeing the world, both as a sculptor and following a spiritual path, a gift I am eternally grateful for. In a fitting completion to this entry yesterday the sculptor discovered a new dimension to this new work which symbolically connects the two, but I shall leave that to write about once the sculpture is complete and our spiritual retreat which we are about to embark on has ended.

body movement

‘Body Movement’

‘Body Movement I’ outside casting a shadow

Faith

Philosophy, Public Art, Soul searching

'Have a little Faith'

'Have a little Faith'

'Have a little Faith'

This  image is a small machete for a larger sculpture that will be publicly displayed outside a local church next month. The outline of this sculpture represents an eye, the idea that God’s eye is upon us all. The figure represents the individual human, positioned within the form of the eye as the pupil. Upon the heart of the figure the shape of the cross is hollow so light will appear through it. This represents the light needed in the heart to find God. Also, physically the light being the shiny spot in the eye which we all have. Therefore, from afar the sculpture will represent God, symbolized by the eye and by the fish and on closer inspection, the figure representing each and every one of us.

In developing a small machete for the sculpture the idea of a book mark was reached and then the realisation that the image could be a new modern-day religious icon. By creating this, everyone can share the sculpture  as my husband’s wish for each and everyone to ‘Have a little faith’. Please take a look at the website: http://www.havealittlefaith.co.uk  

I personally feel we are living in society where there is no longer a focal point about and around faith. In the UK there is a real mix of religions and beliefs and it is fantastic that people can practise their faith without judgement, criticism and freedom. That is how it should be but I do think that in general there are so many people unsure, undecided or just unbelieving. We live in a society which is far removed from the spiritual realm. Our focus on material and worldly concerns has become obsessive. 

On a clear , cloudless night if you look at the stars so far away, perhaps not even actually existing any longer do you not stop to wonder what is out there? How this was all created? Not forgetting that what you see isn’t actually all that is there. I remember, being fortunate to have been camping out in the Serengeti in Tanzania and seeing the night sky like I have never seen it before, the sky was littered with twinkling maps of stars. When I now put the milk bottles at the front door I look up at the sky to see what is being revealed at that time and remembering that there is actually so much more than what the eye can see.

For me my journey of faith has taken me on a road of discovery; new friendships, new countries and crossing boundaries and perceptions. It challenges me every day, inspires me to improve, allows me to remain content and thankful, gives me purpose and happiness. Al HamduAllah! Eid Mubarak.