Artist Lee John Phillips launched in 2014 an illustrated series that’s both touching and overwhelmingly meticulous: documenting all the items his late grandfather had amassed in his garden shed. Described as a mausoleum of sorts, the shed contains a varied collection of random objects; anything from jam jars and screws to nuts and bolts.
“I didn’t intend to draw every single item,” admitted Phillips in an interview with Zealous. “However, my job as an art teacher truly helped sculpt the project into what it is today. I was frustrated by the apathy and general demise in work ethic. Very few pupils realise the time that needs to be spent on creating something of value. I thought, foolishly, ‘I’ll show them!’ I very quickly made the decision to catalogue everything, even multiples, and have not regretted it.”
He’s been hard at work ever since, dedicated to his project and working every day, spending anything between 10 minutes to 15 hours. Aside from honouring his late grandfather, the project is meant as a test of both his discipline and patience – patience he feels he has inherited from his grandfather. “Some people push themselves by running marathons or climbing mountains,” says Phillips, adding “I feel this is my test.”
“I was brought up in post-industrial South Wales in one of the many mining valleys,” he says. “Jobs were hard. I’m from a matriarchal background yet was surrounded by men in masculine jobs. Family members are miners, steel fabricators, engineers, plumbers etc – I’m a vegetarian educated in the arts. I feel like the project is a way for me to relate to and preserve my heritage that has sadly been eroded since the early 1980’s.”
“The Shed Project is a tiny part of my creative being and I wish I could spend more time on it,” he admits. “I work as a freelance illustrator so take on other jobs to pay my bills. If I had my way, I’d work on the project at least half of my working week. That’s the plan in order to get it ﬁnished in one lifetime!”
Take a look at some of his documentation.