At this time of year the snakes are more likely to be hibernating, but it’s a funny thing to come across a warning such as this, at a roadside rest stop, spraypainted onto the concrete path between the car park and the restroom. It could well make the unwary traveller more than a little nervous to discover that the facilities are the eco-self-composting-hole-in-the-ground variety rather than safe and civilised autoflushers! Although perhaps, given that the rest area is off the Federal Highway, en route to Canberra, this warning could be interpreted as a political statement.
The alphabet is everywhere, including in the garden, although not mine. My garden doesn’t look anything like this! My garden is neglected and untidy—although far from unloved—and struggling to recover from the crazy strong winds earlier this week that have turned everything so dry, making a mockery of the torrential rain we had only a couple of weeks ago. Now, things are brittle to the touch and everything in my world is a potential source of static electricity. Alphabet topiary is always Helvetica-like: who would be obsessive enough to tame a hedge into a serif letterform!
I had no plan about what to write about today, so I decided to put it off and go to the gym instead. (See! I really didn’t know what to write about!) On my return the street was busier than usual for the time of day so I had to park further down the road, a spot which afforded me a view of the sky that I would have missed had I parked in the usual place in front of my house. So today I am thankful to the Taoist principle of wu wei—or ‘right place, right time’, where action does not involve struggle or excessive effort but instead allows for the harmonious working of the universe. In fact, I was so thrilled to see this single, perfect word in the sky that I did not hang around to see another word appear and turn it into some advertising gimmick. The irony also amused me: that a pilot with such control of the plane that they could write the word ‘help’ was certainly in no need of it.
In Australia, winter officially begins on the first day of June, but elsewhere the change of season occurs on the solstice. Whichever way you want to mark the coming of winter, today is a beautiful day: currently a mild 16°C, clear skies, a slight nip in the air, warm in the sun. The sun rose at 7:00, solar noon occurs at 11:57 (when the sun will be a touch more than 152 million kilometres away), and then, less than ten hours of daylight later, the sun will set at 16:54—still the afternoon, really. Today’s solstice occurs at 20:51. And not surprisingly, there is a typeface called Solstice.
I can see that I’m not going to get much done today. There are workers next door, and although there is a fence between me and them, they are still only a couple of metres away. They’re using power tools and talking (in bogan) about what they had for breakfast. All of that’s ok, part of city living, but what really drives me to distraction is the radio station they’re listening to. I listen to music while I work too, but there is something about the sound frequency of commercial radio stations broadcast from tinny tradie radios, the inane chatter of ‘upbeat’ announcers, the lowest common denominator talkback, and the ads, which drill through my head as if I’m plugged into this electricity portal.
I am extremely honoured to be the winner of the 2014 Biblio-Art Award. The Biblio-Art brief was to take an existing book—my book was What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge—and to create an artwork which both used and referenced the book in some way. I chose to make an artist’s book, and there is more about it under Artist’s books.
The edition I had to work with was quite old—I’m not sure of its exact age, but it was produced by Purnell and Sons, a family-run printing company that was based in Somerset, England, from 1839 to 1964. Typographically, it was not particularly easy on the eye. It was set in Times on 10pt leading. The type size, as close as I could measure it, was 9.5 or 10pt, making it a little too tight for comfortable reading. Book typesetting has come a long way since then, and typefaces like Electra, Janson Text, Garamond and Caslon, with a little more air in the leading, are used more effectively.
Perpetua was designed by Eric Gill in 1928 for Stanley Morison, typographic advisor for Monotype Corporation. Morison had a twofold plan for the growth of the Monotype library: the first stage was to develop modern interpretations of classic designs for machine composition; and the second stage was to develop new designs, which is where Gill came in. The design and release of Perpetua was fraught with complications. Gill was openly disdainful of mechanical devices (which included the Monotype typesetter), and Monotype’s management was conservative, and hostile towards Morison’s ideas. Then the project was put on hold because it was considered that a new sans serif design was more urgent than a new book face. Perpetua was finally released more than seven years after Gill was first commissioned to start work on it.
They say it never rains but it pours, and although it’s a phrase not necessarily intended to describe actual weather, it certainly applies to the pattern of rainfall in Sydney. Two days ago I planted a small shrub to fill a hole in a garden that is suffering extreme dryness, and within a few hours it started bucketing down so heavily that I couldn’t hear myself think for the sound of rain on the tin roof. It has been relentless, and now everything is damp and soggy. I love the rain, and I love the way it transforms the world around me so that transitory patterns emerge, like this stand of lights reflected in a puddle on tarmac.
You never see butchers touting themselves as ordinary or run-of-the-mill. Prime cuts, superior grade, blue-ribbon, choice, select, A1 and quality are the usual descriptors. This butcher is Armidale is no exception. The lettering is confident, friendly and inviting, reassuring shoppers that quality is not intimidating or likely to break the bank.