I call this wild-eyed green-haired creature the Good Sir of Goodsir. I think it’s fabulous! It adorns a wall on the corner of Mullens and Goodsir Streets in Rozelle, a wall which even without this illustrative graffiti is a work of art, with its rich textures of layer upon layer of worn paint and the shadow of painted signage underneath it all. I can’t make up my mind if the Good Sir is protecting the corner or alarmed at the threat of being pushed out by the drop shadow: but so far the Good Sir remains, guarding Goodsir.
This glowing hotel typeface is very Park Avenue, with its distinctive swishy capital letters – and quite appropriate given its location on the main street of Potts Point, which is a little bit New York. Park Avenue was designed in 1933 by Robert E Smith for American Type Founders. ATF was formed in 1892 by the merger of 23 type foundries, and was the dominant American manufacturer of metal type for many years. Robert E Smith also designed Brush Script.
Weather, wear and tear, neglect and dilapidation can turn the ordinary into something unexpected and interesting. This peeling paint speaks to me of another world with rugged coastlines, vast interiors, island continents and uncharted territories. If I tried to paint this I couldn’t but I would see it in my imagination and want to explore those alien lands.
I had not been along the entrance side of this building for quite some time, so it is only recently I saw that the old letters had been replaced by bigger newer brighter ones. I don’t know how the A managed to escape removal, but in my mind I have bestowed it with tenacity and strength of character, a letter determined to hang on at any cost. This is far preferable to viewing it as a victim of neglect! The new C is obviously, and admirably, conspiring to help.
Here’s something you don’t see much of these health-conscious no-smoking days. This sign hangs outside what must be the most derelict milk bar in Sydney. The lights are never on and I’ve never seen anyone inside (in fact it’s a little scary) but it opens every day and still has the original booths along the wall and lino on the floor, albeit in disrepair. When the cinema next door was demolished the side wall revealed some original painted advertising, and although that has been covered up again, the smokes and sweets sign remains.
Last week I attended an artist’s book course at the Sturt Centre in Mittagong. Each afternoon the sun blazed onto this brick wall just outside our classroom, making the shadow of the clothesline particularly striking against the stark clarity of the various brick colours and textures. Despite the uncomfortable heatwave conditions, the reflected heat from the bricks was strangely soothing, like getting into a car that has been parked in the sun on a clear winter’s day.
There’s a Wai Sing fish cafe in Bristol and a Sing Wai bookstore in Toronto, but I bet this is the only Wai Sing graced with the presence of a flamenco dancer. I like that one cafe name has been painted over the other, and that together they have weathered into a subtly coloured whole, but what I like best is that other partnership: the singing and dancing.
I saw my first Ellsworth Kelly painting, in a travelling exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, when I was 8 years old. All these years later I can still remember being awestruck by Rebound, Orange Blue 1 and Blue Red – large, bold, beautiful paintings of which I had never seen the like. Nine years later, at the ripe old age of 17, I went to New York for the first time, and to the chagrin of my non-art-loving companions I insisted on going to the Guggenheim to see, among other things, Blue Green Yellow Orange Red. Quite recently I have discovered that the National Gallery of Australia owns a number of Ellsworth Kelly lithographs: I am looking forward to the day they are exhibited!
There are various methods of marbling, but the one I tried my hand at recently is commonly referred to as Turkish marbling, most likely because the Europeans first came across it in Istanbul. Marbling became widespread in Europe with the development of printing: marbled papers are particularly popular as endpapers in bookbinding. To make the marbled pattern, a tray is filled with size, and colour is added using whisks made from a millet broom. The colour, which floats on the surface, is manipulated using rakes and combs, and is transferred to paper which has been treated with alum to make it absorbent. Most interesting are the pattern names: stone, nonpareil, waved get gel, flame, gothic, feathered chevron, reverse bouquet, American, cathedral, fountain. It must take a great deal of expertise to get them right. Mine ended up with names like accident and experiment!