Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rough and not-quite-ready, but what the heck!

While catching up with a pair of landscape architects on the south coast the other week, I couldn't resist the temptation to get a snap of their main worktable.

This wasn't some sort of attempt to give the studio an 'arty' edge; it was the reality of trying to get work done in the middle of a renovation.

This simple affair hadn't even been given the 'once over' prior to installation; this door which appeared to have had long exposure to the weather showed all the signs of being picked from the rubble heap and dumped on two trestles. During our meeting I discovered a rusty nail sticking up on my side of the table (next to the dead lock).

A pristine, precisely-manufactured desk is imbibed with no inherent ability to generate productivity. Conversely, some of the finest art has been produced on some fairly rough-and-ready work surfaces (if in doubt, survey the photos of famous British chair bodger, Jack Goodchild, at work in his Naphill workshop).

Chris Schwarz over at his Woodworking Magazine blog recently held a competition for the roughest workbench ('Most Pathetic Workbench') his readers could find. The photos - and his descriptions ("the thing that looks like a small mammal") - are worthy of five minutes of your time. Schwarz does make the comment that you don't need a great bench to do great work, although it probably helps.

I'm guessing that the landscape architects I met with the other week still haven't upgraded that work table; I'm sure they will one day. But in the meantime, they'll get on with churning out thoughtfully designed landscapes.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back to front

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference up at Boomerang Beach near Forster.

The first afternoon of the conference gave participants the option of being involved in any one of several different field trips. The 'learn-to-surf' trip felt a little ambitious to me after a late night, and so I opted for the National Parks and lighthouse tour.

The Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse has been automated for several years, and so there is no active keeper onsite. Nevertheless, the keepers' huts have been restored by the NPWS and are available as holiday accommodation (bargain hunter's delight at only $4000 per week in the summer).

The huts are situated at the bottom of the headland, with the lighthouse up above. As we prepared to walk from the head keeper's hut up to the lighthouse, our guide asked, "Can you guess which side is the front of the hut?"

It was a good question. One side faces out to sea, another side faces down towards the trail by which you enter the property, another towards the cottage next door (with a trail between them), and one side up looks up the hill towards the lighthouse. Which side is the front?

This side, apparently. And if you walk into the house, you'll find that the layout reflects that.