Not Just a Shed

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Today is Fathers Day here in Australia, and I thought today would be a pretty applicable to talk about a project close to my heart. It isn’t some flashy big building or a studio project I went well in but rather it is a shed. How can a shed mean so much to me? Last year in July my father passed away after a long battle with cancer, but before he passed he built a shed for the Oaklands community which I documented. This is the short-story of the Oaklands Mens Shed, from my perspective.

In early 2014 I was visiting home and Dad called me over as he pulled out some broken plasterboard and his builders pencil. He proceeded to draw a rough layout with some dimensions, and a couple details and asked if I could draw it up properly to submit to council. I think he had a suspicion his plasterboard drawings wouldn’t meet their requirements. I agreed, naturally, and over the following weeks modelled up the shed in full 3D and produced some required drawings. Back and fourth between myself and Dad, some minor changes were made, walls nudged around, slightly increasing the size and things of those nature.

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I finally got his approval for the design, and it was submitted to council. The slab was poured in July 2014, the main construction started in August 2014 and Dad opened the building in March 2015. There were some delays in the construction process, much to do with sourcing funding (as it was a community project), along with Dad taking some time-off for treatments. I was able to help out during construction, partly because I was living in Geelong at the time but mainly because I am pretty useless with that kind-of-thing.

This was a very special project for me as it was the first, and only, project Dad and I ‘collaborated’ on. Sure I’ve helped me on site on a couple times but that was as a labourer, and I am terrible at physically building! This was a project where I could offer my skill-set, and feel like I actually helped. When I first started studying at TAFE I had hoped to do a couple projects with Dad, at whatever scale, and I’m happy I was able to full-fill that. The project gave us something to talk about whenever we called each other and it is a great feeling knowing that I contributed to an erection of a building for my hometown.

During Christmas in 2014 the shed was 99.7% complete, it was merely waiting for electrical and sewer hook up before it could officially open. Dad took myself and my brothers to the shed for a walk-around, where he pointed out some details and gave some tips on building a shed. This project, despite just ‘being a shed’ to some, gave Dad and I a connection.

This isn’t exactly the most fluid post but on days like today you try and channel all your thoughts and sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. Today I don’t seem to be winning, so I’ll just end it here.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad.


You can see photos from the construction via the Oaklands Mens Shed Facebook page

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