My first conversation with Peter started and ended with "You're early. Get out and come back on time." One of my fondest and most heartening memories of him came when I was at my lowest. I was with my own thoughts in a hallway in the university by myself when he tracked me down.
"Mr. Chu. You have nothing to worry about," he declared as his hand reached for my bowed forehead, "you have it all in here", he affirmed as he gently tapped me on the forehead before simply walking away and not giving me a chance to respond. I think I managed a "thank you" as he walked away. I don't know. I remember collapsing with exhaustion and unable to stand after that, but recovered shortly enough. It was important to remain standing.
Another time, after looking at my drawings, he pointed his finger at me, looked me in the eye and simply said "Turn your anger into beauty, Mr. Chu," before moving on to another student. What the fuck was that about?
I was too young to grasp the meaning of his method then, but I always trusted it, for better or worse. I didn't know it yet, but these memories would sustain me for many years to come. Man, did they sustain me. Especially in this profession. Especially in this industry.
There are many more such memories, but now I am tired and I am in grief. What a year. If you were to go, this year would have been it anyway.
Farewell, Maestro. Thank you for being sensitive enough to steer us, and being tough enough to sharpen us. Thank you for showing us that kindness, compassion, talent, character, dignity and integrity are not one-liners. Thank you, for truly everything. I'm sure many will now love you in death. If only you knew how many of us loved you in life, so many more than those who didn't. I'm sure we will all see you again soon, but not that soon I hope - we have work to do. I am proving you wrong on what you said about changing the world. You might also now find that your 'suburbs' have become a bad joke. In fact, almost everything we cared enough to argue about is a bit of a bad joke now. We can fight all that out over Irish coffee for eternity next time. You, Maestro, have now become Architecture. A privilege few get close to. Fly. We will stalwartly catch up. You don't think we will I know, but that's not up to you now. Now the real lesson begins.
"If you fuck with the falcons, you'd better learn how to fly." - P.C.
In Heartfelt Memory of Peter Corrigan A.M. (1941-2016)
- Steven Chu. 1 December 2016.