Thorburn, G. (2002) Men and Sheds New Holland Publishers ISBN 1 84330 329 9

Gordon Thorburn’s created a delightful little stocking filler of a book in Men and Sheds, at just over 90 pages it’s a gentle trawl through the aesthetic of shed-dom through evocative b/w images and a light-hearted accompanying text.

According to Thorburn, the word shed comes from the Anglo-Saxon scead pronounced ‘shay-ud’ and means partial darkness or comparative obscurity. It kind of fits with many people’s view of the sanctity of the shed as a place of escape or reflection, a refuge from the cares and bustle of the noisy world beyond…

It would seem that shed-life is in rude health with a huge array of people, mainly men, putting these simple, often self-built, structures to miriad uses; from resorting crystal chandeliers to housing a collection of milk bottles; from carving ducks to poltergeist hunting… And of course, for some the joy is in not having to do anything very much at all. The gentle pursuit of shed pondering is sufficient raison d’être.

This quote can be found on the home page of Australia’s Mens Shed site:

It is a place to daydream, perchance to snooze.
It is escapism from the grind of what might loosely be called life.
It is sanctuary.

It would seem there is growing evidence that there are therapeutic benefits linked to shed-mindedness, and pottering and building, sorting and shaping can promote a sense of self-worth and bolstor self-esteem. Who could argue that that’s not a good thing?

But before I become too mired in the psychological and health benefits of a shed, let’s get back to Gordon and his book. What ultimately shines through the images is contentment, happiness even and a powerful sense of purpose.

A shed it seems is a grand thing to have – even if, as is my case, it’s actually the small back bedroom as we’ve not got a garden… still, I can dream!

The sign that 5 year old Fin’s stuck to my ‘Shed’ door…

Further Reading:

mens shed Australia – photography
mens shed uk – self help
men in sheds – Age UK Project
sheds are more than sheds, they’re life-saversThe Guardian article from November 2013
every man should have a shed – article by Ben Fogle in The Telegraph, November 2013


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