Sunday, January 06, 2008

Architect drawers

Architect drawers, also known as artist drawers or plan chest drawers (well, according to eBay anyway), are those long narrow drawers you stored all your artwork in at school or art college, if you went to one. Traditionally, about five pieces of A1 or A0 paper would fit in a drawer, then it be too full to open, then it would jam and eventually break.

I've been unconsciously after some for ages. Then just recently I was able to move the thought into my consciousness. All my old art college work was still stashed under my old bed at my parents. And I had lots of posters and prints and things. It would be great (and professional-like) to store them in architect drawers. Not the school/office type from the 70s, but a nice old antique one (they're stronger and look better). They go for quite a lot on eBay. But I'd usually read about a trendy couple finding some on a skip or 'dumped outside an art college'. I'd usually read about that in the Space section of the Guardian's weekend magazine. Usually it was a couple from Hoxton who'd just converted a warehouse into artist studios or something. The guy would be a graphic designer or sculptor and the woman would make textiles.

I'd actually dreamt about finding some 'dumped'. Then – this is true – a day or so after the dream – it was raining and dark, the car window was blurred, I thought I might have mis-seen them – but no, there they were – in a skip outside a school! Not exactly the antique type, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. I went to the school the next day and asked someone, who asked someone else, who asked the headmistress who asked the caretaker who told me the actual drawers were fine but he'd smashed the chest to smithereens. I knew it was too good to be true.

A month later I moved to Wiltshire. I casually scanned the local papers. In the classified section of one of them – there they were – architect drawers for sale nearby in Somerset. I called the number in the ad and got the address. I drove through winding lanes and found the house easier than expected. A pleasant middle-aged woman answered the door and took me through to her studio. I saw the drawers before she showed them to me and knew instantly I didn't want them. I guess if I'd seen them dumped in a skip I would have taken them but £90? No way. So as not to waste both our time, I spent the next ten minutes examining them and did some excessive chin rubbing. They were the 70s office-type drawers in an ugly dark red colour. And quite scratched. And £90! I told her they weren't what I was looking for and left. I'll carry on looking on eBay, even though they seem to be going for hundreds of pounds and collection always being up north somewhere.

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