Ghost signs are the faded remnants of old hand-painted advertising signs. You usually see them on the side brick wall of a building. Sometimes the state of their preservation is quite remarkable, and the sign is clear and legible. Other times just a hint of worn and weathered lettering remains. This one was uncovered by a restaurant in Cabarita when they removed some tiles in the process of renovating. It is from an advertisement for Rosella, best known for its tomato soup and tomato sauce, and while I can’t make out much of the text, I can clearly see the trademark bird and appreciate the beautiful patina.


Who ever would have imagined that supermarket shopping bags would become interesting. I found this bag at, of all places, the Whole Foods Market on Maui. It was immediately appealing because, at the time, reusable shopping bags in Australia were pretty much available only in plain green. We still call them green bags, although now a green bag can be blue, orange, patterned, or anything else! (The best bags come from the place I buy coffee beans—they are black with a repeating pattern in orange.) Despite the growing choice of reusable bags, I still like this one, with its graphic illustration and promise of lemons straight from the sunshine state.


Often the best things turn up when you are not looking for them, like this scrap of street poster. I have long been in the habit of looking for type everywhere I go — and even more so these days as I have a new project in the pipeline — but this fragment appeared when my focus was elsewhere. I like it on so many levels: the bold, no-nonsense sans serif type, the colour, the very scrappiness of the torn edges and glue residue. My upcoming project involves type and a book, so this piece of urban detritus is remarkably prescient.

Red meat

My friend is working on an installation that requires red. Red paper, red plastic, red fabric, red string, red found objects, red everything. As I come across them, I save items of red that might interest her, and when I have gathered a decent amount I hand it over. I delivered a bagful yesterday, and as she was rifling through it she pulled out this red meat paper bag, which, given the appeal of its straight talking and typographic qualities, I immediately asked to borrow back. After I have made use of it today I will return it, giving this piece of packaging more lifespan that it ever would have imagined for itself.

Blue bag

It’s remarkably easy to accumulate offcuts, scraps, printed bits and pieces and ephemera, all intended to be used later in some collage, artists’ book or other artwork. Each piece invariably holds some special appeal at the time, but later, going through those piles of saved precious commodities, the appeal of much of it can have evaporated. I have a busy year ahead, and I’m preparing for it by clearing space and assessing the material I need to keep and that which I need to discard or reassign. I find that I am discarding more than I am keeping, an enlightening process because it’s showing me how my art practice has changed and developed over the last year or so. I’m also finding things I had forgotten about—which are now providing new inspiration—and items like this blue post bag from Sweden, which must have contained a delivery of books bought online, that will go back into the pile to be reassessed at some future point in time.


I have spent a lot of time in the garden this week. On Wednesday morning I woke with a plan. This entailed visiting several garden centres because, naturally, one place had the right pots, another had the right potting mix, and yet another had the right plants. On Thursday pots were positioned, plants were planted. On Friday, after months of dry weather, and with perfect timing, it rained. My new hibiscus already has new flowers, and wouldn’t you know it, I have a typeface called Hibiscus!

Blue moon


It’s a blue moon today. Some say a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month, others that it is the second full moon in a zodiac sign. If a season has four full moons, the third is called the blue moon. Whichever way you look at it, a blue moon is an additional full moon in relation to a calendar period of time, and it’s significant enough that people write songs about it. The origin of the term remains sketchy, but as good an explanation as any is that it derives from someone, sometime, saying ‘you would argue that the moon is blue’ in the same manner as we would say ‘you would argue that black is white’. There are a few fonts with the name Blue Moon, but this one is by Fonthead Design, and the dingbat is from Eclectics, designed by Pepper Tharp.

Miami Vice


The unseasonal spring clean that started in my office has taken on a somewhat scattergun quality. One minute I’m throwing out old magazines (they have gone! what a relief!) and the next minute I’m putting the office clean-up on hold while I sort through my wardrobe. And dusty old videos—where I came upon the last episode of Miami Vice. I loved Miami Vice, and when I watched this recording—so old the ads had 7-digit phone numbers and the tv station hadn’t started using an ID bug—I was reminded how ahead of its time it was and how influential it has proved to be. Even now, while much of it was so dated, it exuded style and originality. This is the staggeringly fabulous closing shot of that final ep.

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.



It’s Sydney Royal Easter Show time again. This year I am very pleased to be the recipient of a blue ribbon for my cased-in binding. I left the making of the book till the last minute—the glue was barely dry when I delivered it to the arts and crafts hall—so the photograph will have to wait till later. Meanwhile, after my stint on the NSW Guild of Craft Bookbinders demonstration table yesterday, I spent the afternoon enjoying the rest of the show. I watched dogs rounding up sheep and horses rounding up cattle, admired fruit cakes and sultana cakes and pumpkin scones and jars of lemon butter and marmalade. And this colourful display of dahlias with their ribbons, certificates and handwritten labels.