I sat up until the early hours of this morning, sorting through loose folders filled with more than a decade of hand-written notes and sketches for paintings, and hundreds of Polaroid 600 instant prints I'd kept for years, somewhat carelessly, in a large plastic garbage bag. Four years ago, I didn't archive my preparatory work or any other papers. I didn't see the point. I'd lost confidence in my painting to such an extent that the evidence of what went into a specific work was of little value to me – nor, as I saw it, to anyone else – and was even somewhat embarrassing. I treated study drawings and photographs with contempt. Whatever I didn't destroy, I stuffed into drawers or files that I was never tempted to open again.A friend came across the bagful of Polaroids in my old Palm Beach studio – a fibro' beach cottage rented from the actors Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward – just a few months before my Venus In Hell show. From several hundred creased, stained or faded prints, he edited a selection of a dozen which, without my knowledge, he took away to have mounted and framed. He delivered them back to me, in Melbourne, on the day I hung my show. He insisted they should be exhibited in a small ante-room of the gallery. The price arrived at for each small print was arbitrary, around $A400. By the end of the show, every one of them had been sold.I've offered very few of them for sale since. They're intensely personal – as a narrative of my conceptual development as an artist, as a sporadic snapshot of my life. Still, the price has more than doubled. Recently, a signed, single image related to a specific painting, mounted in white archival rag, sold for $A1,000 in the secondary market.I'm learning to hold onto these pieces and not be so quick to dispose of them, either through sales or throwing them in a garbage bin. I now have a formal archive and an assistant who takes care to wrap my stray bits of handiwork, however unloved, defaced or battered, in acid-free paper, then annotate and date them, before storing them on purpose-built shelves. Maybe, over time, I'll learn to appreciate them. For now, it's enough to know that, somehow, they've survived.