Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

I Suppose it's Just the Start

It seems odd to write about grandad. Would you paint to remember a painter? Would you sculpt to process a great sculptor? 

- I suppose.

I've thought about doing this for some time. On one hand, the weight of expectation that sits on this blank page is unbearable. The other hand? I see no alternative. Maybe it's in this real wrestling match that I most identify with him? Maybe this is why it feels so familiar in this sad moment. In some way, it's a creative struggle. Each word here is difficult. Each word asks, "is it right?"

As he held it in his hand
they oohed and aahed,
marveling at the Goldeneye
he'd lured from wood.

But how could he tell them
of his
rasps of love,
of his
scorpers and files,
the fluttering of knives?

Or, under his glass,
how nagged he was
by the magnification of his errors
in the wings' fine lines?

How could he tell them
the decoy was nothing
like the deception
he'd perfected in his mind?


That's my favorite poem my grandfather wrote. It appears on the forty-third page of his book, "Deliberations".  It so magically captures the struggle we all have to create. The wrestle we have with ideas. The battle that takes place to bring something alive. And when it arrives, the mixed emotions. Is it great? Sufficient. But in our minds, we see what could have been.

I wonder what this writing could have been? I would very much like his notes now.

There is no shortage of highlight reels for my granddad. Books. Named artifacts. Trophies. Statues. People. Articles. Victories. Service. But the highlight reels don't tell the story. Have you ever read a compelling story without a struggle? He would never allow it.

No - only replaying highlights is hollow. It removes the real work at the core. That's how I knew granddad before I could even appreciate the outcomes. What I first admired, even unknowingly, was the work. I grew up watching granddad tend to things. I experienced how he struggled with ideas and wrestled with outcomes. I grew up around a farm kid. A pigeon poop scraper.

The experience I covet most is watching the actual work required to create something great. The iterative drafts. The thoughts upon thoughts. The walks. The coffee. The patience. Pigeon trophies retired to the basement earned from scooping poop. 

I hope when people read his work and sit near his bronze they don't simply see a highlight. They have to look just a little deeper, just beyond the page, to see the labor. The ethic is there if you take the time to see it. That's how I knew him- and I think that's what he found valuable. Granddad seemed so passionate about his process. The significant outcomes just a brief ending to a fulfilling experience. The trophies? Another thing to store in the basement and give away to grandkids.

"There are some
who should never be

He wrote that in a poem titled "Pitch-Black Nights." An artists' work is never fully appreciated until they are gone. I don't know why that is, but it is. Even now I can understand it, but I can't explain it. I'm sure granddad could. So, in some way, I suppose this is just the beginning. The start of his "never forgotten". The opening of the chapter in which we all fully appreciate him.

"After I die
think of me occasionally
I want to see the world
through your eyes."

Gnomes, page 16

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