jottings

The Beckley Shed Tour and Competition: 2003

14/10/2020

The Nunneley Log-Store

The Nunneley log-store, in its ultimate manifestation, is a re-creation of the “faux rurale” style of construction so oft to be found in the gardens and allotments of the urban working man: constructions which are quite clearly a product of the sub-conscious folk-memory of earlier, more bucolic times, when all people lived in the country and worked on the land: constructions which, through their simple design and use of found materials are somehow reminiscent of the humble shepherd’s hut or the yeoman’s tool-shed.

But in the Nunneley log-store we see that style transposed to the countryside; we see the return, as it were, of our urban cousin to his right and proper place, the absolute rurality of a working garden at the very edge of the village and connected to it by only the slenderest of threads. And, although the Nunneley log-store does, indeed, give the casual observer the feeling that here is a construction almost thoughtlessly put together with materials scavenged from the tip and the junk-yard, a closer inspection reveals that this is a conceit. The whole thing is, in fact, an artful fake (rather as though an artist trained at the Slade has taken to producing naïve paintings) and, rather than being the ‘knocked together’ contraption that one first thought, it is, in fact, a rather special piece of work.

Probably the one thing that, most of all, gives it away is its floor: for the logs, rather than simply being placed onto the ground, where damp and rot might spread their way through the lower levels, are in fact protected from the moisture by a rather fine and well-constructed brick and tile base which slopes gently forwards, thus to drain any water that might find its way into the store.

And when the wooden structure itself is examined, the apparently haphazard way in which metal brackets have been used, for example, seems to indicate a rudimentary technique, so much so that one might be forgiven for thinking that the builder of the store simply made it up as he went along. But a closer inspection will show that this, too, is simply a clever way of disguising the careful and creative design processes that have been put to such great use throughout.

The final result is something that is almost more country than country, rather like the dialect used in Cold Comfort Farm. In fact, the similarity does not end there for, just as in the book, and as Ada Doom kept repeating, there is also “something nasty in the wood-shed”.