20 January, 2012

Sandpaper Reveals


sandpaper reveals
layers of old hard paint
and old soft wood

1 comment:

Hobbes said...

I have spent many, many days of life on the staircase in our house over the past few years. It is an old house, and the previous owner was an old lady who moved away. The state of the house was as you might expect for it being an old lady's house, and we have, over the last three years, been bringing it up to modern standards. This has involved a great deal of work, which we have managed in between the heavy commitments of our day jobs, and, more recently, in looking after our dear Xiaohu.

So, the staircase. It was in a poor state of repair, but the fundament was strong. Over the years, we have sanded down every possible surface on its long, convoluted surface; we have plastered, painted, woodstained, and oiled. My dear wife likes to call its revived, quite beautiful, appearance as being "wabi sabi" - old and used, yet well-maintained and robust.

During the many days of sanding, my sandpaper revealed previous lives of the three families who have lived in our house since it was built in the 1930s. Every layer scraped away took us back to another set of lives, ultimately revealing the skeletal structure of the house itself, beneath the patina of layers of paint, deposited by the families over the decades much as a teapot gathers a shine.

White paint from the 1980s; green paint from the 1960s; old, dark red stain from the 1930s. The sandpaper took me back through their lives, much as did the written history of the house that the old lady provided us with when we moved in.

The photograph that I have used for the haiga is a knowing wink to this process. It pictures the woodshed in our garden; funnily enough, as chance would have it, the layers of wood in the picture are, mostly, derived from old wood taken from the house and garden. Some are old floorboards that we replaced; some are old tree branches that we have pruned during our maintenance of the garden. As the sandpaper revealed the history of the house on our staircase, so the cross-section of the woodshed shows more strata revealing the same.

A personal and enjoyable coincidence, which makes this haiga rather pleasing, given its meaning to us.