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?

Strange Sensations and Slow art

Colour, Connections, Exhibitions, Public Art, Soul searching

The first week of the holiday ended and I had felt smug at how well I had managed the days with the relentless rain and keeping busy. Yoga, breathing and letting it all flow working with me well. However by the second week with less yoga practice and illness I felt personal tested because the weather was so good. I had had several ideas for active boys but I have had the most odd and strange fever. It sounds dramatic but when you have an infection it is as though an alien has taken over your body. However, it makes you grateful for your health and appreciate that for some people who can be their state of being on a more permanent basis.

So for the last weekend of the holidays, feeling a little bit more normal I planned to take the boys to a local museum where I had seen a little advert for ‘slow art day’ with a child friendly image of a tortoise. I thought that would suit us all as it was about the pace I was working at – tortoise pace. When I looked into a bit more I realised it wasn’t a kids holiday making activity but an annual event celebrated around the world with the idea of taking time to look and appreciate 5 pieces of art work and then discussing it. I think this is a fab idea but I couldn’t envisage not feeling hundred percent with two boys on the run, more at a hare’s pace, in a gallery space.

This was the general theme of the holidays, having plans and then them not quite happening, always a good lesson to learn. So here are some images of our own slow art the boys did at home and over the holidays on the rainy days.

slow art

Having a first day to myself yesterday after the two-week holiday with the boys, I went for a walk and realised walking helps me to think through ideas. It enables me to hear my voice in the peaceful sounds of nature. My husband has been busy working through an idea in clay, a preparation for a larger piece. He was telling me how he has realised he carves the whole thing in his mind before hand almost like watching himself do it in his mind’s eye.

On my walk, I took a moment to sit on a bench in a field with a large oak tree and a stream running through it eat. I noticed something I hadn’t seen before, a plaque with a poem by William Henry Davis:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

So I sat, ate my apples and reflected. I am conscious I am always hurrying the boys and think about articles about ‘The hurried child’. It is important to slow down and do things at a pace that makes us appreciate. My husband is driving with loyal driver and designer Anthony Hartley to Surrey to put these pieces (images below) in the wonderful Hannah Peschar sculpture garden. So if you are in that neck of the woods (odd expression but seemed appropriate) then take a slow wander around the beautiful surroundings amongst stunning sculptures and works of art.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.Henry David Thoreau

Bird now orange

‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi

Ride now purple

‘The Ride’ by Sam Shendi

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.

sketch doubts

‘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.

sketchbooks display

‘Sketchbooks’ on display at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

cellar gallery

‘Only Human’ exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

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.

family tree 3

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)

‘Can’t see the wood for the trees’

Colour, Soul searching, Steel

 

studio 3

‘The Studio’

studio busy

‘Getting Ready’

studio image

Not much space left…

The studio is full, not much space to move around. Whilst those around us have taken vacations we have stayed put and created, flown kites and played on the bikes.

I had a rare day today, I went to our business and my husband had the boys, ‘Freaky Friday’ I was calling it, like the film but it wasn’t at all Freaky. It was great.  I did some lovely peaceful things and then returned home and took the boys to the park and it was such a different experience with fresh eyes. (I wonder what I would be like after a week!)

It made me think about something I listened to recently about, the importance of seeing the forest before going in and deciphering the conifers, the elms, the oaks…. I don’t think it is entirely possible to do that in parenting but having a little ‘break away’ meant today I came back with renewed patience and could somehow deal with both boys individually rather than ‘the boys’. I enjoyed them in the moment as children.

In parallel and more to the point the studio is full with all the pieces ready for a photo shoot tomorrow. The decision process about what goes in and stays out of the solo exhibition will then begin. My husband was saying yesterday that he can visualise the exhibition space, he can see the sculptures in it. He just can’t see which ones they are. Some how he needs to be able to break away from it, to stand back and see the ‘wood from the trees’.

PS. Just literally had a very ‘freaky’ moment, where after explaining to my husband the meaning of my ‘post title’ as I am finishing up writing this the film in the background my husband is watching I just heard the line, “forest from the trees, forest from the trees’.