Purple door


Given the prevalence of yellow industrial buildings in the inner suburbs of Sydney I’m pretty sure the colour is chosen not so much for its visibility, although that would surely be a factor, but because the paint is going cheap! This building has its fair share of yellow, but it is the red-framed purple door that caught my eye.



Onomatopoeia is the naming of a thing or action from a sound associated with it. Buzz boom zoom bang crash whippoorwill whisper murmur splash tinkle. I don’t know if there is a word to describe something that looks like itself – a visual onomatopoeia – but I see examples of it everywhere, like this ashy ash. The letters also have a very nice Akzidenz Grotesk feel about them; they’re not a true match to the typeface, but I really like the sound of the name.

Xmas Pi


There is much debate about the origin of the term ‘pi’. Some say it is from the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet and others say it is in reference to printer’s pie, the jumble of disorderly type that has been dropped from a printer’s fingers. The dictionary defines pi variously as: to spill or throw (type or type matter) into disorder; not intended to appear in final printing; capable of being inserted only by hand. These days the pi character or font generally refers to a mathematical or decorative symbol, Xmas Pi being only one collection of many. Pi font, symbol or special character, call it what you will, I’ll be enjoying my christmas pie tomorrow with a glass of good cheer.

Parramatta Road


Parramatta Road is widely considered to be one of the ugliest roads in metropolitan Sydney, but it is the major historical east-west artery, beginning in the east as a continuation of George St and Broadway, and ending at Church St Parramatta. Ugly it might be, but there’s no denying its fascination. As you travel west the dates carved into the building facades reveal the progress of settlement and architectural detail hints at former glory and hidden beauty. In 1883 the steam tram went as far as Annandale, which is where I found this old lettering on a boarded up shopfront.

Time tunnel


When I was a kid there was a tv show called The Time Tunnel. I remember two things about it: one, that I was so enthralled by it I never missed an episode, and two, that the tunnel was a black and white swirly thing and they used to run down it. Of course this is not a time tunnel; it’s a recycled paper bag. And it has twofold appeal: first, it came my way via my friend via New York, and second, the use of the letter ‘a’ in a black and white swirly thing.



This mess of cracked timber, dripping paint and rust could only have evolved over time, so there is surely a story to its evolution. Whatever it is, the stencilled number 10 must be important enough not to have been covered up, but it is the combined effects of time, weather and neglect that have turned it into something interesting.



Oh happy day! Typography in action! Early evening, me the designated driver, all of a sudden my passengers exclaiming ‘The u’s dropped! The u’s dropped!’, squeal of tyres, quick u-turn, but oh no – no camera. At least I had my phone, so this momentous event could be recorded and the type tragics could go on their merry way, heads giddy.



Lustre, brightness, sparkle, flash, polish. This lettering certainly provides a touch of razzle dazzle to the stretch of otherwise unremarkable industrial shopfronts where it appears. I have driven along the street many times, but have been so beguiled by the promise of what could be so lustrous in nature to warrant this bold sign (in fact it is Lustre-glo, even better!) that it was somewhat disappointing to discover that behind the lavish red L and its companion letters lies a panelbeating shop.



In August this year I visited Maui for the first time and was lucky enough to experience the splendour and magnificence of Haleakala on a perfect clear day. Haleakala, meaning ‘house of the sun’, is a shield volcano, and forms part of the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain. It is thought to have last erupted some time in the 1600s. In Hawaiian folklore, the depression at the summit of Haleakala was home to Maui’s grandmother, and according to legend she helped him capture the sun and force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day.

Haleakala takes my breath away. It is so beautiful that no photograph can do it justice. But before I left home my friends coerced me into taking a camera, and I took this picture, which is currently being exhibited in the 2012 Kodak Salon, at Melbourne’s Centre for Contemporary Photography.

Mr Burns


From the distance all I could see in this was several rows of Mr Burns at the cinema. Up a little closer it appears to me as some painted remnant from Ottoman times, and an even closer look at the top half reveals a landscape from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. I doubt it was intended to be any of those things and the apparently random nature of how it appeared on a column in an old railway workshop is a complete mystery to me, which of course adds to its appeal.