Monday, April 30, 2012

Three more ghost signs in the inner west

Here's a brilliant one taken in Williamstown by Warren Morgan (thanks Warren):

And now two taken by me on my phone camera in Flemington and Kensington:

Friday, April 20, 2012

There's gold in Kensington

A fruitful hour or two on the bike in Kensington this afternoon. In the sun. When I should have been working. But hey, I earned it.

Robur Tea!

Hard to see, thanks to afternoon sun.

Three from the recently hipsterised precinct around the Younghusband grain silos

And here are a couple from across the road in Flemington and Ascot Vale:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some more signs, this time from the West

Took advantage of the brilliant weather late this afternoon and headed out from work on the bike to capture some signs in the inner West:

Here's one from Spotswood - thanks to urbanmonk for alerting me!

Footscray/Yarraville (and next one)
Three Murphies, Yarraville

...and two of the Mobil terminal in Yarraville - no ghost signs here, but referred to many many times in the Lewis & Skinner  signwriting records. Oddly enough - or maybe not - this terminal and where I found the L&S records are right on the opposite ends of the same street (Whitehall Street)
Whitehall Street, Yarraville
And lastly, one I took from the car the other day in Brunswick

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This is kind of weird...restoration/repainting of old ghost signs in Salisbury, North Carolina

This story is an interesting one:

Trio works to revitalize advertising signs on buildings

They've organised to repaint an old Coca Cola sign:

"Like many of us, Michael Alexander, Justin Dionne and Nassar Farid Mufdi Ruiz have always noticed these old advertisements on the brick walls and thought how great it would be to restore each one of them."

And further down:

"The men have set up a Facebook page, “Salisbury NC Ghost Sign Restoration Project,” which includes several photos of the signs to be restored in the future.

The daddy of all the ghost signs might be the Wrigley’s gum advertisement high on the back of the Meroney Theater building.
“That would be a great one,” Raker agrees.
Mufdi estimates that a restoration of the Wrigley sign might run between $20,000 and $30,000."

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. put money in, as well as Salisbury's Community Appearance Commission, (the guys are looking for donations to cover the $600 shortfall).

To my view, there's a blurry line here between public art, nostalgia, subjective notions of civic tidiness and advertising. And also a philosophical position involving aesthetics. For me, it's: if you repaint a ghost sign, it turns into something else, especially if what it advertises is still around. It becomes advertising once more, with an edge of commercially-fuelled retrostalgia. The thing about time and survival that I've gone on about previously is erased.

It seems this has come up in the Salisbury dicussions too:

"In recent years, artist Earle Kluttz Thompson had restored a couple of the ghost signs in Salisbury by painting in a patina, so they wouldn’t look spanking new.

But the Public Art Committee agreed with the notion of painting the signs fresh, because that’s what Coca-Cola would have done in years past to update its advertisements."

“It will ‘patina’ with age,” Raker says, “and that is the way this particular artist paints his signs.” "

Curiouser and curiouser. And with parallels (minus the commercial layer) to the recent debate in Melbourne about the Keith Haring mural, and whether or not it should be repainted:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One from a friend, and one I missed in Reynard Street

Thanks Adam for this one. Story is: "This is on a wall in Westgarth that was briefly uncovered when they demolished a building to make way for some ugly new apartments. It's covered up again now for another 30 years"

One I missed last time in Reynard Street Coburg West

...and from the front

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More ghost signs, and more ruminations about them

Thanks to the Indian summer we're having this Melbourne autumn - and notwithstanding last week's daylight saving change back to winter mode - I've been able to continue my bike-powered sticky-beaking around this city. (Note: In my 20s and 30s I used to be into travel, but now that I'm comfortably into my 40s I've channeled my restlessness and curiosity into exploring more of the city I call home. Melbourne, I have to say, just keeps on giving: I've been here for 23 years now, and still keep finding new things every time I venture out with bike and camera phone.)

So here are some more signs. The first lot have led to the question: can a sign be a ghost sign if what it advertises still exists? Can a live person have a ghost? Here, I present exhibits 1, 2 and 3:

Mt Alexander Road, Ascot Vale

Somewhere in Pascoe Vale

Maribyrnong Road, Moonee Ponds
Thinking about this, I reckon that a sign has less impact if what it advertises is not dead. And particularly when the thing being advertised is in the same location as the sign. Bushells Tea is still around, but an old Bushells sign still has some impact if it's old enough. Signs promoting dead brands have even more impact. So, a ghost sign is at its most powerful if it is a trace of something gone, a hint of a past existence that no longer exists. And apart from any issue of aesthetics or craftsmanship, part of a ghost sign's power (as I've proposed earlier) is related to its miraculous survival over time when everything around is is being demolished, altered or painted over. The older, the more miraculous the survival, and the more impact it has. In the three examples above, signs advertise something that is still there, at the same location. So their power is a bit diminished, because their  survival is less miraculous. Their survival is due less to a miracle and more about the building's owners not mustering the resources or care to update their signage.

Navel-gazing aside now, here are a few more ghost signs, both from recent trips and from my archives. They're mostly small scale, industrial and local:

West Melbourne - no radio or glass now, just taxi repairs


Ballarat Road, Footscray

Ballarat Road, Footscray

Ballarat Road, Footscray
West Footscray
North Melbourne
Geez where was that? Somewhere in the NE suburbs, near Macleod

And now, a few very old ones I've uncovered, taken with the old dodgy phone:

Coburg North