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!
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.
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 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.
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.