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.
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.
This black on yellow green does exist with other words adjoining it, thereby conveying a more prosaic meaning, but in the first few moments of seeing it I allowed myself to imagine it was the signwriter’s ironic sensibility at play, his inner surrealist let loose. It is a commonly held belief that Mondrian hated green but hopefully he wouldn’t have been offended in this instance!
Anyone who has ever driven east along the Camperdown stretch of Parramatta Road has seen this. I think it’s great: bold as anything, audacious as all get out. The paint is starting to weather a little now so it has settled pretty comfortably into its urban landscape. What I particularly like about it as a work of art is how effortless it looks and how well it sits – definite indicators that real skill went into drawing it.
In typography, an asterism is a symbol consisting of three asterisks placed in a triangle. Its function is to denote a break in the text; a break that is more than a paragraph, less than a chapter. Breaking text in this way is commonplace, but the use of the asterism to indicate it is rare. More prevalent is the use of a line space or a single asterisk. Or a dinkus, but that’s for another day.
This is all that’s left of a painted sign on the side of a building in Redfern: the rest has been roughly painted out with a roller, but well enough that you can’t read what’s underneath. The most recent occupant of the building was a dry cleaner who had a metal sign affixed to the wall, but now they have gone and taken their sign with them, revealing this relic of an earlier time. I doubt it was their intention, but it looks like they had a sense of humour and purposely left just enough unobscured lettering to pique the curiosity of people like, ahem, me!
Angelo Mezzapica’s ‘Continental Cake Shop’ on Norton Street opened in 1952 and it didn’t take long before it was considered the only place to go for Italian cakes, biscuits and pastries. I don’t know if the sign is as old as the shop but it’s been there as long as I can remember. The window display is always pretty interesting, especially around holidays when the theme-decorated cakes are humorous and imaginative. Angelo retired about 30 years ago but the cake shop has stayed in the family and retained its excellent reputation. For good reason: they make the best rum balls in the Inner West.
This is a little off typographic topic, but I saw Radiohead this week and there’s no space in my head for anything else. I have been trying to think of a way to turn it around, work in something about type branding, album art or graphic design, but really I just want to say I saw Radiohead. Twice. I once dared to voice the opinion that, finally, here was a band better than The Beatles. I was met with stony silence and I’m still not sure if the person in earshot agreed with me or couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Radiohead this week has reminded me that I have seen some outstanding live performances over the years, so here, in chronological order with the most recent first, is my top five.
- Radiohead Sydney Entertainment Centre, and if I want to get specific the first show has the edge over the second
- Herbie Hancock and band, Sydney Opera House
- Elvis Costello solo show, Enmore Theatre Sydney
- John Lee Hooker Paramount Theatre Seattle
- Public Image Ltd Hordern Pavilion Sydney