'Someone, he added, ought to draw up a catalogue of types of buildings, listed in order of size, and it would be immediately obvious that domestic buildings of less than normal size – the little cottage in the fields, the hermitage, the lock-keeper’s lodge, the pavilion for viewing the landscape, the children’s bothy in the garden – are those that offer us at least a semblance of peace, whereas no one in his right mind could truthfully say that he liked a vast edifice such as the Palace of Justice on the old Gallows Hill in Brussels. At the most we gaze at it in wonder, a kind of wonder which in itself is a form of dawning horror, for somehow we know by instinct that outsize buildings cast the shadow of their own destruction before them, and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins.'
[P23/24 Penguin 2001]
Austerlitz also contains the telling remark that shows the other side of Shedman's dictum Open the magic door:
'No one can explain exactly what happens within us when the doors behind which our childhood terrors lurk are flung open. [P33]
If you come across any shed-like writers' places – or any other artists' come to that – that aren't so well known, please let me know. I'm always interested to hear about them. And they can be virtual as well as real!
You can follow Shedman on Twitter @Shedman. Tweets may include the occasional short poem as well as information about what Shedman's doing, where he is and how he's feeling. How interesting is that!
What do you do in your shed?
Take five minutes to tell Shedman about the amazing things you do in your shed. Share your favourite shed story. Send in a shed poem. Or send media links to shed activities far and wide. Just email shedman at shedman.net.
'Thank you for your magnificent contribution to Havant Literary Festival's maiden voyage - you were the absolute lynchpin of the programme.
Shedman was the outstanding hit of the Festival; he was both the focal point of the street entertainment and a tangible manifestation of the Festival's aims of connecting with all ages and all sections of the community in interesting and dynamic ways.
He is also a PR dream - there isn't a Press Release in the world that can't be improved by adding "and a poet in a shed" at the end!'
Lucy Flannery Festival Director Havant Literary Festival
Writer, poet and film maker John Davies is the original Shedman. He's inspired by all kinds of sheds – garden sheds and aircraft hangars, shed antlers or skins, shedding tears or shedding light. He’s writing a book about his shed experience and on his travels, researching the subject, he creates residencies and workshops at different events and locations, using sheds as the focus for a unique interaction with people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.