Balance, Birds and ‘The Bough’.

collections, Connections, Relationships

“Balance does not mean merely balancing the body. Balance in the body is the foundation for balance in life. In whatever position one is in, or whatever condition in life one is placed, one must find balance. Balance is the state of the present-the here and now. If you balance in the present, you are living in Eternity. When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future, only present.” Excerpt from Light on Life, Balance/Evenness is Harmony)

Balance is something I have been trying to achieve for a while within my mental space and also my physical body. I write ‘achieve’ and realise that it’s not about getting there but finding some kind of harmony within. I have a tendency towards extremes, in many areas of my life. For about eight years I have been dipping in and out of an at home yoga practice but this year I have managed to cultivate a daily yoga practice, over 120 days straight and still going. Helped immensely by the accountability of doing it in tandem with my Mum. This is really helping my mental balance, moving ideas from the mat into life, then breathing through the challenges and accepting what is happening in the present moment. Still not easy but I can sense a little shift. ‘Balance is my natural state’, is a great mantra for realising that I can return to this equilibrium.

My last homeopathic remedy was to help me return to a more balanced state and interestingly, a bird remedy. Birds feature heavily in the poems I write and also in my husband’s sculptures. There is natural liberation in the ability to fly and the need for an innate sense of balance. Birds seem to represent infinite possibilities, eternity. I feel drawn to birds, creatures captivating in their movement. My Mum has always said my name, ‘Tamsin’ means little bird but I can’t find where she may have found that out from as my own research leads to it meaning ‘twin’. Still, I like the idea of my name having a bird association. The other morning on one of our daily walks we were mesmerised by a pair of Hawkes or Kites gliding and darting high above and then more immediately in our sight line two swallows dancing and almost swimming in the air. Birds are often used by creatives to represent thought, imagination and loftiness of spirit, which is why I think I am drawn to them. The sculptor uses them in his work to represent a voice, achievements, and dreams.

This sculpture, ‘The Bough’ is titled as the idea of humanity shouldering the responsibility of nature, being the main branch laden with the blossoms of life. Exploring the idea of being custodians of the natural habitat, the figure looks as though he is flying or diving into life, balancing nature on their back. Synonymously the idea of humanity and the interaction with nature and the plinth representing contemporary society.

How can we balance these components in today’s world?

Victoria, Anne and Matilda

collections, Colour, Connections

September is gone and October arrived and with it so many butterflies. Victoria and Anne and Matilda are sat round the table doing free flowing writing exercises, like the Bronte sisters did. I only know that because last week I went to a poetry workshop in Haworth. Lead by the poet Clare Shaw with her beautifully broad Lancashire accent who poetically spoke of Emily, Anna and Charlotte as though we were there with them. Names. Interesting how we name things and they become so. For these sculptural cocoons my husband named them old Queens of England. Read into this whatever you like; history, identity, nationality, royal family.

The philosophy of these pieces is based upon something the famous sculptor Michelangelo is quoted for, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”. As though there is a life form within the material being manitpulated, asking for release,  finding a way for freedom from the restraints within the cocoon of medium. My husband’s sculptural journey is often  exploring ‘within’,looking at keeping that statue trapped. Not allowing the ‘breaking free’ process to occur and focusing on the development of the chrysalis. As the sculptor, I suppose this is his licence, to keep it under wraps.  A butterfly just tapped on the window, as I write which gives me a sign I am on the right track.

My interest is in the naming. The famous sculpture of Michelangelo is ‘David’. When we view the sculpture ‘David’ we see a carved figure of a human form. It is unlike earlier Renaissance depictions of ‘David’, the biblical hero standing over Goliath. Michelangelo’s pose is before the battle actually takes place. Over time sculptural practice changes and develops with shifts in materials, philosophy, ideas, the things that inform the world around us. As much as we can still carve materials into almost exact replicas of things, there has to be an evolution to creativity. My husband is making reference to the title of ‘David’ by naming the art work female names in the same way. This creates a story around the sculpture and asks the viewer to question the form. It  suggests that the figure is within the form but additional addresses the idea of what the human form actually is and to think of the body as simply a vessel, to look beyond shape. This concept is prevalent in much of my husband’s work. He is exploring the idea that we are so much more than our bodies  but congruently, sculpturally, this collection is all about form, shape, mass, volume.

Almost at the same time as this collection was completed my husband won a project  which we currently have to keep ‘under wraps’.  A project which has meant a trip to London yesterday for the sculptor. The link between the titles of these sculptures and the up and coming project is a little bit like my constant observation of butterflies. All signs and symbols that everything is unfolding as it should.

 

The Metamorphosis Collection

What is in a name, Shendi?

Making

 

isolated

‘Isolated’

Names and meanings. We name our art pieces with laconic titles. Brief, direct and to the point. I sometimes have an input in the naming of works but it often becomes a joke. Like, who thought of the name of our kitchen business ‘Arabesque’, I am pretty sure it was me. (In fact I think I have written that somewhere before). It was probably a whole elongated conversation but who actually thought of it gets a little lost. The same has since happened with art works, it becomes a discussion to get to the final single or double word for the most apt title, who names it in the end we don’t really know!

Naming of art work in the art world has become a whole subject in itself in recent years with works having extended titles giving chapter and verse about a piece.”Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, a Second Before Waking Up” by (Salvador) Dali is rather a long conflated one. Painter Debra Ramsey says: “I am now more aware, in our fast paced world, it’s safe to assume that the viewer expects at least some information right up front.. the title can lead the viewer into something, and can be used to broaden the “readership” of the work.”

'Cruelty'

‘Cruelty’

However, I think we’ve gone with the opposite idea. There is so much information today that the short succinct title makes the viewer able to consider it whilst focusing on the work itself. Letting the work speak for itself. On the other hand though when you hear my husband speak about his work or read about it, it does open up so much more and a deeper level of thinking about the subject. So I do see why more information about an art piece can sometimes be helpful.

head

‘Arion’

So to the name, ‘Shendi’. When my brother was still at school he somehow took the name ‘Shendi’ on and would always call my husband by it, “Now then Shendi” and some how coined it as his own nickname. There is something about it that could almost be a first name, like Jackson or Connor has become. So Friends have indeed started to call him, simply, Shendi.

However, Shendi  (Arabic: شندي) is a place, a town in northern Sudan, situated on the east bank of the Nile River 150 km northeast of Khartoum. Additionally, another town named Shendi in Ethiopia. So the fact that it is the name of a place also gives it a bit of weight. One day perhaps we may venture there. But whether our surname should actually be spelt ‘Shendi’ when we pronounce it sometimes more like’ Shindy’ could be a question. Although, when I say that out loud now I think it is more ‘Shen’ than ‘Shin’. Somehow Shendi looks better when you see the letters and the fact that Shindy means a noisy disturbance or lively party totally puts me off.

I decided to change my name only once the boys had been born and we were travelling. I had to change my passport anyway and it made sense and a lot easier to all be the same family name. Now, for school I have found this easier to be Mrs Shendi, but a lot of documentation is still in my maiden name which caused me great difficulty when I recently had to upgrade my phone. The whole female name change issue when getting married is an interesting one as in Egypt and many other middle eastern countries, a woman doesn’t change her name. I did consider this when getting married but because this tradition doesn’t apply here I would be Mrs ‘enter maiden name’ which would be the same as my mother and I thought that was really confusing.  I think it is interesting that the fact that woman in the middle east don’t take a man’s name when they marry, isn’t often known. Perhaps we should have more of a ‘Madame’ and ‘Mademoiselle’ system to specify age rather than marriage? I could happily have Mme and be ‘ME SHENDI’.

I jest and digress but  found this lovely appropriate quote, “Everyone you meet has a part to play in your story. And while some may take a chapter, others a paragraph, and most will be no more than scribbled notes in the margins, someday, you’ll meet someone who will become so integral to your life, you’ll put their name in the title.” –Beau Taplin.

This sums it up rather nicely for me, for who knows maybe one day ‘Shendi’ will be ranked along with Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet. We know them after all by their surnames not their first names. Even well-known artists today tend to be thought of  in Surnames, Hockney, Gormley, Hirst? Maybe, or less so? Another topic of discussion.

Anyway, I could quite easily imagine people asking have you have seen a ‘Shendi’? and they wouldn’t be meaning a lively party. So there’s no argument in the naming of my title or I guess the sculptor’s. Shendi will do nicely.

'The Bow'

‘The Bow’

 

 

 

 

‘Big Questions’ for ‘I’ll Call you’. Art Swap featuring Sal Jones

Art Swap, Colour, Galleries, Relationships

For the first time in four years of blogging I have lost a post I started. Must mean I didn’t save it which is odd because it usually does it automatically, doesn’t it? But even if it doesn’t I can’t believe I closed it without a reminder for me to save it, or that I even forgot to click the save draft button. Must have been the pre-cursor to the way I felt last night and this morning, not good. So I have had time to write today  from my bedroom, feeling a little under the weather but happy that the sun is starting to shine and it is teasing us with spring. The view from my window a painting in itself. But I digress….

All of this has nothing to do with what I want to write about today which is our first successful art swap. We successfully exchanged ‘The Big Question’:

The big question

‘The Big Question’

with ‘I’ll Call you’ by artist Sal Jones .

So today I am going to write a little bit about her work. It is interesting to see the links and comparisons between painting and sculpture and of course the obvious differences.

I'll Call you by Sal Jones, Oil on canvas

I’ll Call you by Sal Jones, Oil on canvas

Sal Jones focuses on exploring colour and form expressively, aiming to engage the viewer with visually exciting work. Many of her paintings use bold and vibrant colours as my husband’s sculpture usually does. However, The Big Question, above is simple monochrome. I think you can tell when as artist is thinking about the way a viewer might interact with their finished work. It gives a more complete piece of work somehow.

The heightened use of colour adds emotional and expressive dynamic to the work. Many of her pieces have a vivacious quality to them. This one a little more muted, with moody blue tones adds to the story and the suggestion of a dark tunnel ahead.  For me having had a little experience in painting I love the gestural brush marks and the layers of colours. I also am fascinated by the way the suggestive marks give rise to the folds and forms of the fabric. So the light and dark make this piece.

Here is the painting hanging in our hallway, like it was painted to be there. The first things I see when I come out of my room.

IMG_4299

‘I’ll Call you’ by Sal Jones

As the figure is walking away you can almost put yourself in the painting. “By taking an isolated image out of context and using the dialogue as the images title – I’m hoping to create a friction or ambiguity in the reading of the image interpreted in different ways by different viewers depending on their personality and viewpoints and what they bring to their understanding of the subject”. I really appreciate this factor.

Interpretation is everything and an important part of my husband’s work too. Much of Sal Jones’ work features portraits which although I like and she describes more as ‘character studies’, in our small terrace house I don’t think hanging the face of someone would really work. Where as this piece has an abstraction to it because the figure can be anyone, I also like that it is a full figure as many of my husband’s pieces are the female form so there is lovely link there.

Indeed, both the sculpture and the painting tell a story. Like a pictorial book we are invited to create our own words for the images we see. Jones herself states that she is “interested in capturing moments of expression that portray the human psyche, of blurring the boundary between fact and fiction; also in the relationship between the title and image.” Titles are everything, as I said in my last entry about my husband’s laconic titles very different from some of the long-winded titles of many modern minimalist pieces. Sal Jones’ titles are the stories themselves, inspirational points for an aspiring writer.

So we are privileged to have a unique and precious painting on our landing and if you want to see her work you can do from next week at Espacio Gallery . Click the link to another blog entry about the gallery, as my husband has also exhibited there.

Sal Jones exhibits in:

Y Not?
31 March – 5 April 2015
Private View: Thursday 2 April 6-9pm
An exhibition in aid of International Women’s Day.