The Shed Project

24th January 2024

I love things like this, the desire to catalogue, take stock, process and record is so human. When a loved one dies the spaces they vacate can feel like a moment in time, paused. Much respect to Lee John Phillips who has been painstakingly drawing every, and I mean every, item in his grandad’s shed for years now. He thinks he has illustrated over 8,500 items, believing there to be around 100,000 in total.

It’s an epic undertaking but I get it. My dad passed away 2 years ago tomorrow and his workshop is still there, his imprint everywhere. We have tidied and sorted quite a bit but certain tools still remind me of him. I can’t seem to part with a very battered yellow sprit level. It’s covered in concrete but I remember dad having it since I was small, I think he even took it on site with him, working for the London Underground.

The Shed Project

This kind of illustration is very pleasing to see, and do. Something one might right off as generic, like 100s of screws, all have quirks and differences, even the new ones. I haven’t this level of patience but I appreciate being able to observe the whole of something.

Lee John Phillips has been working on his Shed Project for years, and probably will be for years to come, these days he illustrates and designs for clients as well as whittling spoons in the wilds of Wales. Recently he has been forging a hub of creativity in the Pembrokeshire woods to teach from and welcome like-minded artisans.

A lovely project, it has me thinking about what my family has collected – or hoarded – over the years. I have so much sewing equipment from my nan and gran. Bobbins and silky trims, crocheted lace and belt buckles, worthy of pen and paper. Model railway bits and bobs from my dad, there’s the aching bookshelves of my brothers and the simple but pleasing hand-thrown pots and cups of my sisters.

The everyday and the mundane become pleasing when placed apart and admired. On-mass like the Shed Project, or perhaps just set aside like the paper bowl my mum made, in front of me.

Pictures from the BBC article.

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