Colin McKenzie

In a time before social media apps like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter , people did things for their own satisfaction or for the good of others . Rather than selling their heavily postured lifestyle to throngs of “likers” on the internet, people just did stuff, without advertising it and hash tagging it .  And once upon a time you could stumble upon something or someone that hadn’t been overexposed by the world of social media. You could actually find something new.

It is however with a fair splash of irony that I am using the Internet and ultimately social media to bring to everyone’s attention, a bloke called Colin. I do so because I know Colin isn’t chasing the attention. He’s not on twitter, or any design blogs or city guides, nor does he have a tumblr. In fact he is so perplexed by social media and the intentions of the kinds of people that do “those selfies” that I’d be surprised if Colin even sees this feature. And that, my friends, is why I bring him to you.

It’s staggeringly refreshing to meet people who don’t have a smartphone surgically attached to their hand. So much so that I almost felt awkward sending Colin a text message. For the record, he didn’t respond. My gut instinct was that I was going to learn something from Colin and the first lesson was a reminder to communicate as we humans were intended to; in a more analogue manner.

I originally spotted Colin at my favourite post-surf café. He was on horseback, dressed head to toe in Western digs, and rode off with a take away coffee; a white with one, to be exact. After a brief chat I’d teed up a rendezvous.

“Turn left after the river and you’ll see my place on the right”. “You can’t miss it” he said, and upon arrival I realised what he meant. I was dead in the middle of what looked like the set of a western film from a time gone by. There were skulls from the knackery, a lattice of old ropes, hand painted signs, aged and petrified oddities, odes to the fallen cowboys of Hollywood amongst an array of things I couldn’t even process.

Some would consider it junk, others treasure. Symbols of life and death, war and pop culture iconography, humorous yet sincere. It’s no roadside ‘old wares’ bric a brac wasteland though. This is a personal compendium of artefacts and symbols of a mans life.  A few saloon style sheds and a kitsch jail cell personally curated regardless of wether or not anyone will ever see it.  It’s a collection for collecting’s sake.

How much can you tell about a man by the objects he surrounds himself with? As I sat there sighting all the miscellaneous pieces around me , wondering what I would write about, it dawned on me that this article was best captured and told through the lens as it began to feel like I was trying to understand something I didn’t need to.  The collection, and Colin himself is as much about aesthetics as it is content.

Sometimes a bloke’s story is so much bigger than words and exactly how much objective observation is required to honestly say you ‘know’ something about someone you’ve spent only hours with?  I guess what I really found was a person who reminded me to do things for the sake of doing them; to enjoy the satisfaction that comes with building a collection, or doing something that no one will ever see. I guess that’s real satisfaction when it doesn’t need to be shared or advertised. You don’t have to be a craftsman, or a thinker, you just need to put the smartphone or tablet away for a while and stop telling everyone what you’re doing. Chances are, no one really cares that much anyway.  Start engaging with people on a less digital platform. Introduce yourself to a stranger like Colin; you may well learn more than you expect. I did.

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