Tag Archives: Chiaroscuro

Epiphany

8 Jan

The day after my father died I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I walked to my workshop via the canal basin at Victoria Quays, Sheffield by way of a pair of bored ducks.

When I got in I set to making a some shelves for my nephew Luke. His dad had sent me a computer generated diagram of what he wanted.

That was my opening gambit.

Holly Chessmen 2016

I started by cross cutting some 18mm birch ply for the shelves using the table saw and the fence to set the width of the cut. Something I have done countless times.

But, this time I did not replace the guard on the saw blade. As I switched the induction motor on a large section of ply got trapped between the spinning blade and the fence – and shot out like a missile into my crotch.

As I was rolling about in the sawdust clutching the Crown Jewels and crying – I suddenly heard my dad’s voice:

“Look after your tools son and your tools will look after you.”

You could call this an epiphany.

Less of ‘the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (Matthew 2:1–12)’ as my Mam would put it, more the sudden and great revelation according to Dad.

A Zen moment if you will.

When both parents are dead the child is on their own – spouse, partner, your friends – the people picked by you, may be there for you. If they are true they will even love you warts and all.

However, all of these fine folk are free agents and can, potentially, leave you all alone.

Parents are an entirely different box of frogs. Their influence can never leave you. They gave you life, and for this alone you will always owe them a debt. Without them you are not even a twinkle in an eye.

I loved mine equally. I respect their gifts.

Mam showed me how to fight, Dad taught me tactics and strategy. Mam taught me the difference between looking and seeing, Dad gave me poetry and laughter.

My parents never expected me to pay up on the debt I owed them, but, it occurred to me that I might repay them in some way.

Perhaps with a touch of faith?

Like letting a keen young carpenter work in your studio.

“There’s no F&@£ing straight line anywhere!” Esme McCall

Muninn – spalted ash

Quite.

Educare (to train) – The Mother. Educere (to enlighten) – The Father.

Chiaroscuro Home Parenting.

For Alan and Polly Howden, who know how to get right in to the playpen with their boy Joseph. Caravaggio would approve.

Chiaroscuro

6 May

Chiaroscuro is Italian for ‘light-dark’ and refers to the masterly and subtle use of pigments and shading to suggest depth and solidity. My friend, Robert Twigg, a film maker, follows in the footsteps of Carravagio, that great exponent of ‘light-dark’, in his documenting of the craftsmanship of local Sheffield artisans.

 

Unfortunately we cannot get to edit the reel of our lives like a film maker. We only have one take and our triumphs and mistakes tend to be starkly outlined – in black and white.

It will be two years this summer since my daughter Polly married her fiancé Alan Howden.

‘Father of the bride’ is one of the most gratifying roles a man can be asked to play. The requirements are very straightforward: look smart, make a short respectful speech welcoming all the relatives and guests at the wedding breakfast, bust a few moves on the dance floor, bask in the radiant glow of your lovely girl’s happiness and take a back seat. The father’s role requires ‘chiaroscuro’, a little light and the shade to illuminate the substance of the main players – the one’s you love.