A scrawl on the dirty brick fence of a ratty block of flats on the edge of Newtown: there is nothing aloha about this bit of graffiti. And yet, and yet … It brought a ray of light into my day, enough for me to stop and, ahem, smell the hibiscus and take out my camera. The very word summons up imagery of clean turquoise waters, swaying palm trees and mai tais in tiki tumblers; a carefree life in the warm tropical sun. So perhaps it is a well-placed aloha after all.
On my recent visit to Melbourne this is pretty much all I did, and if the innumerable bustling cafés and restaurants were any indication, that’s all anyone in Melbourne ever does! I was full to dolly’s wax of excellent breakfast from another establishment when I saw this directive (in fact walking to my destination the long way round to counterbalance effects of said excellent breakfast), so I didn’t really pay much attention to where the sign belonged. It stood out more for its no-frills message than its typography—and that in itself is noteworthy in a city that breathes such a high standard of design and style.
The Young & Jackson is a heritage-listed pub, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets in Melbourne, named for the Irish diggers who purchased the lease on the Princes Bridge Hotel, as it was previously called, in 1875. The pub is known for the infamous Chloe painting, by Jules Joseph Lefebvre, a life-size nude that first hung in the National Gallery of Victoria for three weeks in 1883, but created such an uproar when it was exhibited on Sundays that it was withdrawn from exhibition. It was bought for the pub in 1908 for £800 and hung in the saloon bar. The building prominently displays both pub names in large, gold-painted sans serif relief, but I like this side entrance where the name appears a little more decoratively and the reflection of Flinders Street Station can be seen in the windows.
Although this big red Z is building signage it works equally well as urban sculpture. It’s a bold statement, this lightning bolt of red, and the cracks in the backdrop of plasterwork, the steely grey abutting the dirty, gritty off-white, and the hard shadow make the gutsy red metal shape even more dramatic.
Deers were introduced to Sydney’s Royal National Park in 1906. The current population is estimated to be about 1700, and they are considered to be feral pests that are wreaking environmental havoc on a par with cane toads. These road signs appear along the stretch of highway near the entrance to the park, but something has gone awry. Every December (until this year, that is) the signs have sprouted red noses and sleighs for the duration of the silly season, temporarily transforming deer into reindeer, and bringing a dose of humour and good cheer to passing motorists. Altered sign or not, at least the clearway is operational so there’s a good chance that Dancer and Prancer et al (aided by Rudolph) will be able to make their deliveries on time.