From the Vault

Historical Reporter (image)

Mother Knows Best (image)

Sports Reporter (image)

Surfing is Surfing:
an essay on Grant Shilling

by Clayton Webb

We Don't Care What You Say

Growth Rings

Babes in the Woods

Exile off Main Street

Kids & Play & Adults

Squeegee People, Vulture Culture & Cars

Survival of the Fittest

True Crimes

Copper Ann

Bodysurfing, Travel & the Dead

Haunted Houses

Rock & Roll Road Kill, Kill, Kill!

Storage Locker


Storage Locker

by Grant Shilling

A. got me the storage locker. She figured it was the one thing I “needed.” And the thing I could remember her by.

A. got me the locker when I was away in the Middle East, Greece and Italy over a two year period. I came back to her and it. A. was living in the Marble Arch then (she used to strip there and felt safe there, hiding from yet another abusive man) ,and I moved in first to her room – and then when one became available- my own. We’d spent most of the mornings in bed reading to each other . Outside the window they were constructing something or other. I read the Frank O’Hara: City Poet biography to her. O’Hara is one of my favourite poets and his mid ‘50-‘60s era and its mix of abstract expressionism, pop, and New York , New York school of…-was all beatnik, bohemian, suave dream land for me.

I love, love, love O’Hara’s poetry: “Grace to be born and live as variously as possible.” “Life equals attention.” “I don’t trust a blade of grass unless a subway runs underneath it.” All statements of the New York, New York human nature is enough nature for us.

A. and I would read beside each other and , inspired by the poetry, the slant of the sun, whatever – fuck, bathe ( the Marble Arch has big, two-person tubs ) and go to work or wherever.

Kempton, my amigo, had sublet my studio while I was gone and he helped A. move my stuff into the locker.

Odd items went in there: 22 football helmets rescued from a Britiania Secondary School dumpster (the school’s football program was literally trashed ), my customized shopping carts: wild goose cart ( goose feathers hung on fishing line wrapped around the cart), crow cart ( corw feathers on fishing line…) and Barnacle Bill rescued from four feet of water, (watch out for syringes!) at the Gold Seal plant there at the foot of Main; props and shit from film work, some pots and pans, a hot plate, wood from Tofino days with words I carved into them: "Salmon Charter: Big Deal."

The items formed a narrative. Objects of memories, the dead and forgotten. Old love letters (Stacks! Holy Cow I used to be in love!)

The storage locker became my attic without a house. In the rainy winter months after I’d come back to Canada and Vancouver, I’d go up there to organize, remember, pull out, fill in the blanks: complete work.

I moved a lot of the stuff into the new studio I rented. I pushed the stuff over in my shopping carts. Ah, art, life, life, art, smirk, smile get these carts up the flights of stairs. Once inside the studio I was greeted by a big smile by my new studio mate who was making mini-clay habitats shaped like wheels. Shared interests! Passion, rent, art – bud? Got any bud? Ya do. Me, too! Passion, rent, art…

One day I went to my storage locker and there was this guy sitting outside his locker with his legs swung over the second floor platform – like he was sitting on a dock with his legs dangling over the water. Lined up beside him were some of the items that make up his life. The guy was in a trance, his being moving through the dance of time.

I began to think of all these little rooms, with their little locks and their stencilled numbers on plywood doors. The two story steel ladders on wheels that lead up to them and the horrible sound they make if you drag them. Little rooms, lives lived, boxes, transience, and an odd macabre feeling: barracks?

I pictured myself sleeping in my little box. Living there for a while. Could I do it? Who is?

I thought of A., how clever and caring she was. How she knew me better than I’ll ever know things in boxes. “The stuff’. Dream space of being. A space a lover leaves behind.

Terminal City
August 29 – September 4, 1996