There is something special about a public bench.
Why is it there? Who sits there? What do they see when they sit there? What do they think about? Is it possible to sit down on a bench and consciously focus on and study the view without drifting into reverie?
A bench has so many uses. For the weary, a place to rest. For the contemplative, a place to meditate. For the artist in all of us, a place to view the world. For the storyteller, a chance to ponder a narrative. For a bench is full of stories: of past and present incumbents.
I must have drawn and photographed hundreds of bench-sitters over the years. I am drawn to the stillness of the occupants, the relationship between sitters, the spacing and the silhouettes. On the seafront, in the park, in the city centre, in the suburbs, facing the world, facing a stone wall.
But here’s the funny thing. Up to a few years ago, I rarely sat on one myself. Benches are for those who understand the importance of making time in life for simple pleasures. I, with my frenetic desire to get things done, did not. Only now as time rips by with increasing velocity do I understand the importance of sitting down.
Better late than never.