A shed full of a life

Author
by Jon Augier
Publish date
29 August 2013
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Comments (8)

Jon is a photographer at Museum Victoria.

In my job I have the privilege of getting up close to many amazing, fantastic collections, and often gaining insights into the stories of the people behind these objects. Recently I went with the Curator of Engineering to a comfortable but modest house in a leafy north-eastern suburb of Melbourne, to take photographs of a collection in its original home before it was separated. Some will be acquired by Museum Victoria and the National Film and Sound Archive, and the remainder will be auctioned off or sadly disposed of in a less dignified manner.

tool bench in shed Beautifully ordered tool bench in the suburban shed.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The exterior of the well-maintained red brick house and tidy front garden said little about its late owner and the life he led. Nor did the unremarkable rooms of the main house. But behind the doors of the buildings in the back garden lay a truly amazing collection that spoke loudly of a rich and eclectic life lived to the full.

Tools in shed Saws, chisels and bits of hardware sorted by size.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The first room we entered was his workshop. To call it a shed would be something of an understatement, though given the special place that sheds have in Australia, particularly in Australian male culture, this must be vying for a place on the top of the list of the ultimate sheds.

The workshop was crammed full but orderly; a place for everything, and everything in its place. And there was almost everything in this place: the tools, equipment and materials needed for a huge range of pursuits including cycling, weight lifting, boxing, fencing, hockey, cricket, tennis, track and field, surf lifesaving, fishing, pigeon racing, astronomy, photography, tap dancing, electronics, carpentry, welding, tool making...

Shed nook filled with books and games. A nook in the workshop filled with books and games.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Among the tools and equipment: barbells, dumbbells, boxing gloves, speed balls, hockey sticks, fencing foils, tennis rackets, spiked running shoes, tap shoes, fishing rods, bicycles, taps and dies, files, spanners, hammers saws, drills, welders, lathes, milling machines, electronic test equipment, photographic printing and processing equipment, a rather serious telescope, and a reference library…

Musical instruments in a shed Musical instruments in the The Blue Orchids Theaterette include drums, guitars, maracas... oh, and some table-tennis bats.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

But that was only part of it; the adjacent building was devoted to the arts and entertainment. Through the front door was a sign in shining letters heralding 'The Blue Orchid’s Theatrette.' The equipment it contained showed that this was no idle boast: a projection booth complete with a 35mm motion picture projector, a screen behind a remotely operated curtain, and an elaborate audio system. The room also housed an extensive range of audio equipment: musical instruments enough for a decent band, including a drum kit, double bass, tuba, piano and guitar. There were also many movie posters and other memorabilia.

Outside the theatre in the shed The curtain concealing the screen and sound system in The Blue Orchid's Theatrette.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Included here are just a few of the hundreds of photos taken by me on the day. I hope you enjoy spotting the details in these photos. The value of such photographs is that they allow us to examine a site in detail, identifying elements that we do not notice on first viewing of the original scene. I also hope you enjoy, as I have, imagining the life this man led.

Musical instruments in a shed The music and hi-fi section in the Blue Orchid's Theatrette.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Much of this collection is of its time; a time passed. So when I was amongst it I thought, "Did the owner, a man just short of ninety, have a computer?" The answer was revealed on the way back out through the house… Of course he did, and of course it was not an off-the-shelf model, but an enthusiast's tower that he probably assembled himself!

Comments (8)

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Robyn 30 August, 2013 11:31
What an insightful collection. Thank you for sharing it.
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Bec 30 August, 2013 14:35
How wonderful, thanks for sharing Jon. Can't wait to see what Matilda aquired for the Museum.
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john kean 30 August, 2013 17:24
what an amazing space, everything in its place and a place for everything, a microcosm and an escape from the disorder of the outside world, great images. Inspire to relpicate the order, I don't think so!
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Caz 30 August, 2013 17:41
My grandad had a wonderful shed that we loved to (as kids) sneak into and explore. All of his many tools, bits and pieces were laid out in a similar manner to what has been shown here and your photos have certainly stirred up some memories for me. Thank you Jon.
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Chrisll 30 August, 2013 17:54
Loads and loads of eclectic memorabilia. It would have been interesting to see more and met or understood the man. The most amazing part being that it was so well sorted. Something to aspire to.
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Jay 2 September, 2013 14:03
Wow Jon. Thanks for sharing these pics. I wonder if creative spaces like these will exist in the coming digital age? So much of our experimenting seems to occur in virtual spaces these days...
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Maryanne 3 September, 2013 09:33
What a monument to order.
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Bernard Caleo 12 September, 2013 10:16
Remarkable remarkable remarkable. Sets off yearnings for 'a shed of one's own'. I wonder where that 35mm projector will go?
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