Queen Theatre


I didn’t notice it immediately because it’s normal to my Australian eye, but the spelling of ‘theatre’ here is rather unusual. The Queen Theatre, in Lahaina, now houses one of Front Street’s many commercial galleries. I wonder how it ended up with this English spelling rather than the American theater? A couple of blocks away the Maui Theatre is also a theatre, but the neighbouring towns of Kahului, Wailuku and Kihei have theaters, as you might expect.



The side effect of ageing that affects me most is that I now have to don spectacles to be able to read with the sharp focus that I have been lucky enough to enjoy unaided until fairly recently. But I figure that if I’m going to have to wear specs, they might as well be nice ones. Yesterday was my scheduled visit to the optometrist. They’re a friendly and helpful bunch—and given their location, rather used to graphic designers being particular about frames. What made yesterday a standout is that the frames I chose came with free engraving on the underside of the side bit. I’m not big on putting my name or slogans on things, but when they said I could have twenty-six characters …

Writing in books


It’s the weather for reading library books. Library books specifically—not something lying around the house, not a kindle book, not something to better the mind, not even a new book from the bookshop—but a book from the fiction shelves of the library. Doesn’t matter if it’s paperback or hardback, new or dog-eared and knocked around—it just has to come from the library. My library is patronised by someone who, I’m sure of it, writes in every book they borrow. Always biro, always this old-fashioned handwriting style. They are always opinionated, and they usually give a score out of ten. Oh, and they go through the list of other books by the author and tick the ones they’ve read. Like me, they are partial to a good thriller—although I often don’t share their opinion. I’m torn between being annoyed and amused, but mainly I’m annoyed. I can’t help it, I don’t like it when people write in books. And I really hate it when the reader takes to their blue biro proofreading—especially when they are wrong! I get so irritated by their stupidity! Anyway, I haven’t started reading this book yet, but the phantom book-writer seems to think it’s a good one.



Wailuku was once a thriving centre, although the few times I’ve been there not much has been going on. A walk along Market Street reveals hints of former glory, where the varied architecture sits against the dramatic backdrop of the Iao Valley. I liked the simplicity of this building, the 1932 almost too subtle to be noticed, especially on this drizzly grey day.



Sunday afternoon, sunny and still. The shortest day is only a week away and it feels like it. The washing’s on the line but there’s not a hint of breeze—not good drying weather. I had great plans for today, but really I don’t feel like doing much except staring at nothing. I’ve never been one for having the tv on during the day, but this TV, etched in concrete, is kind of a good match for where my mind’s at. This particular TV is on the Front Street sidewalk in Lahaina, Maui, so I can stare at the grey and be reminded of those tropical shores as this southern hemisphere winter afternoon draws to a close.

Hermann Zapf


Hermann Zapf, one of the most significant type designers of the twentieth century, died in Germany this week at the grand age of 96. While some of his typefaces bear his name—Zapf Dingbats, Zapfino, Zapf Chancery—his most famous typefaces are Palatino, Optima and Melior. When he left school in 1933 it was his ambition to be an electrical engineer, but instead he ended up as an apprentice photo retoucher. He became interested in lettering after seeing an exhibition of the work of Rudolph Koch. Using Koch’s book, The art of writing, and Writing and illumination and lettering, a textbook by Edward Johnston, he taught himself calligraphy at home using a broad-edged pen. Print historian Gustav Mori first put him into contact with the D. Stempel AG type foundry and Linotype GmbH in Frankfurt. He designed his first printed type for them in 1938, a fraktur type called Gilgengart. During the course of his career Zapf designed for hot metal, cold type and digital technologies. He was also a cartographer, teacher and book designer.

Common threads


This week saw the opening of Common threads, an exhibition of work—alphabetica, book arts, prints, stitch arts, textile collage and typography—by my friend and colleague Sue Rawkins and myself. Although we have led parallel careers in book design and have worked on many projects together, this is our first exhibition as artists rather than designers. While we share the influences of letterforms, binding processes, techniques, materials and shapes, the visual language and outcome of our work is as different as our personalities. The exhibition runs until 18 June at me.Artspace, 25 Atchison Street, St Leonards, Sydney NSW, open 11 till 4 Tuesday to Saturday. Thanks to everyone who made the opening such a great success.



The pilcrow is a symbol used to denote a new paragraph. In the Middle Ages, before the convention of starting a paragraph on a new line, it was used to mark a change in the train of thought. It is also known as a paragraph mark or paragraph sign, and in proofreading it indicates where a new paragraph should begin. It is a symbol that appears in many character sets, and in page layout programs such as InDesign, a pilcrow marks every carriage return and can be seen when the invisible type features are made visible.

Jade vine


I’m sure it’s from outer space. It’s too surreal to be real, yet here it is, this weird turquoise flowering vine. When I saw these amazing flower clusters, surprisingly camouflaged in the way that crazy vivid colours can sometimes be, it took a while for my brain to compute. This is a colour usually found in flowers made of silk or paper, not real ones hanging from a growing plant. I eventually identified it—it’s a strongylodon macrobotrys, commonly known as the jade vine.