Lee John Phillips’ illustrated project, known simply as “The Shed”, is both heartwarming and mind-boggling. Launched in 2014, it started as a way of honoring his late grandfather’s memory by meticulously documenting all the items he had collected in his garden shed. Those mostly consist of uninspiring bits and bobs such as screws and bolts.
“I didn’t intend to draw every single item,” Phillips told 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 realize 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 catalog everything, even multiples, and have not regretted it.”
The result is overwhelming. Pages upon pages of careful documentation, drawn in black and white. “Some people push themselves by running marathons or climbing mountains,” explains Phillips, “I feel this is my test.” With his daily work taking anything between 10 minutes to 15 hours, it is indeed a test of his patience and will power.
“I was brought up in post-industrial South Wales in one of the many mining valleys,” he says. “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 1980s.”
Aside from a test to his sheer amount of will power, his drawings are stunning in their level of details. Here are some highlights: