“why make drawings like these when we have cameras?”
My parents house is one of those large bungalows with a well cared for garden. It also has the large double garage that, like so many others, serves as an overflow store for my family’s past possessions. In my parent’s garage, this includes a large stock of DIY materials, DIY tools and an ever-expanding collection of salvaged elements from broken objects that ‘one-day’ will be re-used. At the far end of the garage, seamlessly integrated with this supply (or perhaps inextricably entangled with it), is my father’s workspace. On one particular visit home I found myself foraging amongst these supplies searching for a particular artefact, recalled by my paternal quartermaster, as being stored for just this very eventuality. It wasn’t long before I became distracted by other items from my past and entered into the reverie of a daydream.
Standing there on my own in the cool dimness it occurred to me that, at some point in the future, all of this would need to be sorted out – which is my way of avoiding saying ‘thrown away’. I realised suddenly how unsure I was of being able to come to terms with this sanctuary of memories no longer being available to me as a ‘touchstone’ of home and of my parents. Here in this ordinary garage I could feel so clearly how all of the tools and materials carried with them my father’s presence, and how the entire workshop bore the traces of his life. The stacks of timber, the never to be re-used components, the dust and the cobwebs, the once organised and softly rusting collections of screws, nails, bolts, washers (all conforming to a half evolved private taxonomy) – all of these things, in negative, made a true facsimile of my father’s presence – they implied him with a clarity that was moving and which asked to be acknowledged.
As I’m not a hoarder I knew I would never make one of those fearful half-sacred shrines out of the garage by refusing to allow anything to be changed. However, I also knew that I would always want some access to this part of our shared history. So I began to make the drawings. After all, “one day, none of this will be yours”.