I’m attempting to tidy my office, and while it’s relatively easy to vacuum the floor and straighten my desk, the digital filing is not always so easy. In theory there’s nothing to it: my problem lies in the quantity. I have used the ‘oh it’s not in the way I’ll do it later’ excuse a little longer than I’d like to admit. But in the process of cleaning up I found this. The art deco Supreme building, built around 1930, is in the main street of the NSW town of Glen Innes.
This caught my eye because it is an unusual choice of colours to paint a building—particularly that shade of green, exactly the colour of the pistachio gelato from my local cafe—but I also liked those thin stark shadows from the awning supports and dangling wire, the black-edged shape against the clear sky, and the antenna and pipe sticking up in a way that, despite them being kind of out of place, make the facade more interesting.
This sandstone block was part of the building that occupied the corner of Pitt and Little George Streets, Sydney, between 1860 and 1916. The building was demolished in 1916 and its facade was rebuilt in Mentmore Avenue as part of the Rosebery Model and Industrial Suburb—a planned housing estate providing detached housing close to industrial employment sites. When the building was reconstructed the original L-shaped facade was straightened, and although some of the original detail was lost in the relocation, much of it, including this ground-level rusticated sandstone detailing, was retained.
The original Maples furniture store in Clarendon Street, South Melbourne, was destroyed by fire in 1934. Rebuilding of the ‘modern warehouse’ began in August 1935—three showroom floors, two staircases and an electric lift (!), and a facade of cement with a sandstone finish, which incorporated the large letters that luckily, on the day I was there, were not covered up by the monstrous bank banner that had been strung up previously.
The number 19 by itself would be noteworthy but its surroundings give it an added dimension. There is such attention to detail in the ornate framing and duotone brickwork. The left hand side of the facade had matching brickwork and a corresponding framed AD, but I liked this side better because of the way it abuts the concrete pillar of the neighbouring building. On a dull day it would most likely look completely different but the blue sky and clear light make the concrete appear architecturally dramatic.
Tomorrow is the first Tuesday in November, which makes it Melbourne Cup Day, one of the most significant days in the Australian calendar. The Melbourne Cup, held at Flemington Racecourse, is a 3200 metre thoroughbred horse race. It’s a public holiday in metropolitan Melbourne, and around the country pretty much everyone stops to watch the race on tv, glass of champagne in one hand, betting slips in the other. One year I got my American friend involved. I sent him the form guide, he picked the horse, I placed the bet, and to my great astonishment the horse won! Kneipp’s Saddle and Harness Emporium, in Tenterfield, certainly won’t be supplying any gear this year. In the late 1800s Frederick Kneipp offered ‘a new improved saddle’, but all that’s left of the building, after it was destroyed by fire in 2011, is this burnt and blistered facade.
It’s bushfire season, and there was a particularly severe few days last week when the air was thick with smoke for hundred of kilometres from the fires to the north, south and west of Sydney. I was about 300 kilometres north, in Taree, when I saw this richly lit facade. The building is painted a kind of pale yellowy off-white — the rich honey colour has nothing to do with the name of the building, but comes from the late afternoon sun filtered through smoke haze. A couple of days later, on my return home, I noticed an unusual amount of bee activity under my studio window, and discovered hundreds of bees attempting to build a hive. Coincidence or not, they had to be moved!
Central Park — in Sydney, not New York — is the urban redevelopment of the old Kent Brewery site in Chippendale. When the hoardings first went up along Broadway I was not impressed. The typography of the logo combines the lowercase l with the uppercase P, and, imho, it tries too hard to be clever and fails in the attempt. I was also unimpressed that, yet again, they couldn’t think up a name of their own. However, the site is proving to be quite interesting. There has been some outstanding public sculpture on show, and when I walked by this week I had a great underneath view of this partially constructed suspended platform.
Mittagong fire station is noteworthy for having a female captain — the first female firefighter to be appointed to that position in the Southern Highlands. I like the building for the shape of its roofline and the clear, well-maintained, sans serif letters that stand out like a beacon in the clear afternoon light. I don’t know why there is an odd space in the date, but at least it has symmetry with the peak of the roof!
Chatsbury is an art deco building notable for its partially castellated roofline, semi-circular balconies and distinctive entrance. These may well be noteworthy features, but they fade to insignificance compared to the chunky and quirky letters that make up the sign that announces it. My first reaction to the letters was that they had been carved out of a big block of vanilla icecream – and indeed, they are good enough to eat.