Public library

I have been into this building many times, but it is only this week, while gathering a few more images for my upcoming book Type Town, that I took proper notice of the words. I never knew it said ‘public library’! I knew there were words, I know this is a library, but I know it as the State Library—which is what the sign around the corner on Macquarie St says. I also discovered that this section of the street is called Shakespeare Place. One thing I am still unsure about, however, is the architectural term for the part of the building where the text appears. Above is the pediment and cornice, below is the architrave—but the section in between—I think it is the frieze, but I’m not sure. Perhaps I could find the answer inside, on the library shelves.

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The book I am currently working on is called Type Town, which, as the title suggests, looks at the typography of my surroundings. When I first started planning it I knew that the signage and street art in my neighbourhood was rich with possibility, but during the last few months of closer scrutiny it has proved to be even more interesting and engaging that I originally anticipated. These beautiful numbers are from a boarded up butcher’s shop window in Rozelle.

Condemned

I am currently working on a project that is taking me in a slightly different direction to usual. For many years I have worked as a book designer for publishing houses as well as, more recently, for individuals. I am now taking the leap into publishing my own book: a full-colour photographic volume exploring the rich typographic landscape of my neighbourhood. My photos focus on signage and street art I find either beautiful or unusual, rendered through my own personal aesthetic. This stencilled sign hangs on a tree which is, as it announces, condemned (by roadworks). I will be posting more photographs of my typographic neighbourhood in the coming months.

Maison

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I walked along a different street this morning, and it was a reminder that we don’t have to change much in our daily routine to get an altered perspective. I found plenty of interest in the back lanes my walk incorporated, including this signage, left to take on some character in a way that the front door sign would not be. I wonder if something happened to the O, or if it was just the luck of the draw that on the day the Os were made, the quality of materials was slightly different, or if some other small factor contributed to its future faster deterioration. The typeface looks like a version of Clarendon, which makes me like it even more.

Bus stopping

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In my working life I prefer to work in the comfort and familiarity of my own office (and have been lucky enough to be able to do so), but during the last few months one of my favourite clients has required my presence in-house for a particular project. I like it more than I thought I would, and while it is kind of a disruption to my usual work routine, there are some definite pluses: like birthday cake and a cheery bit of singing in the middle of the afternoon! And I like the view from the bus. My short commute along Parramatta Road gives me the opportunity to admire the impressive turn-of-the-century facades along that noisy, dirty and faded—but once glorious—thoroughfare. Oh, and inside the bus is interesting too, especially on overcast days when the reflections are intensified.

Deep water

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Not only deep, but Woolwich Dock is long and narrow, a chasm-like drydock overshadowed by towering sandstone walls. Eighty-five thousand cubic metres of sandstone were excavated from the site to construct the drydock, and when it opened in 1901 it was the largest in Australia. Now, there is a raised metal walkway and a keep-between-the-yellow-lines footpath forming part of the Sydney Harbour foreshore walk, so you can walk all around the channel of water, from Goat Paddock to Horse Paddock, without having to get your feet wet.

Elks

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Unless I win a greencard lottery and become a citizen of the United States, I will never be allowed an opportunity to join the Elks. Regardless, my reasons for wanting to join are far from altruistic: I’d like to become a member for the purely selfish reason that I could visit the Honolulu lodge at will for the regular evenings of Hawaiian music. Not to mention the view across the water to the glittering lights of Waikiki, which is really something. Or the comfortable and relaxed ambience, a quiet old-time haven (oh, that 60s sunken bar!), a civilised escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourist strip. I know about these charms because one night I had the rare experience of being signed in as an unaffiliated guest. But now, I need to be satisfied with admiring their rather fabulous street-front sign.

Dump no waste

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This notice is etched into the sidewalk in Honolulu’s Chinatown. I’m not sure if the fish is cheerfully oblivious, still swimming around in pristine waters, or if it has already swallowed a mouthful of waste, and is a warning to passers-by that this is the fate that awaits a fish if the oceans are polluted. With its bee-sting lips and googly eyes, it could easily be cousin to the fish that Bart pulls out of the water downstream from Monty Burns’s nuclear plant. Or is it just a happy carp?

Beach weather

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The torrential Sydney rain has finally stopped and it’s looking more like beach weather. If ever I need to know the weather forecast, experience has proved that the most reliable method is to call my friend in Geelong. Whatever weather she is experiencing on that particular day is the weather we will have in Sydney the next. It’s uncannily accurate—more so than conventional weather reports. Regardless, I’m in an airconditioned office today so will not be needing the suntan lotion, and no, that’s not her in the picture.

Tree

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I don’t know how we function without labelling everything! More so, I am also amazed at how a simple word can impart so much information—this hinged metal square set in concrete is obviously not a tree, but it conveys much about inner city landscape planning and management in relation to the tree close by. And I quite like that speckled pink terrazzo.