Monday, February 25, 2013

Forthcoming ghost sign seminar - with Stephen Banham, Sam Roberts and yours truly

Here are the details of a ghost sign seminar I'm organising - all welcome!

Ghost sign hunting: the new fascination with old hand-painted advertising signs

In London, Detroit, Melbourne and other large cities around the world, people are on the hunt for 'ghost signs': traces of old advertising signs painted onto walls. Cameras and mobile devices in hand, they capture these traces and share them in their thousands on social media and, increasingly, in books. What makes these remnants so fascinating? Nostalgia? Urban change and its discontents? The appeal of a forgotten craft? The re-imagining of familiar places?

Exploring what ghost signs can tell us about how we live with and experience diverse cultures and histories of place and image, this seminar will feature expert international and local perspectives, plus open discussion, from:

Stephen Banham (Melbourne): Called a 'typographic evangelist' by London’s Eye magazine, Stephen Banham is the  founder of type studio Letterbox. His typographic explorations centre on the social and cultural aspects of letterforms. With over 17 publications on typography, Banham’s 2011 book, Characters: Cultural stories revealed through typography (  focuses on Melbourne signs. Banham lectures at RMIT University and holds a Master of Design. In 2011 he was awarded a Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria.

Sam Roberts (London): Sam Roberts is an authority on hand-painted signs. In 2010 he launched the History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive which records advertising on walls from across the UK and Ireland. Sam has written numerous articles for design, advertising and academic publications, as well as contributions to books about ghost signs from the USA and the UK. His Ghostsigns blog is here:  In 2012 he published Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie, about the street advertising of Cambodia.

Stefan Schutt (Melbourne): Stefan is s a research program leader at Victoria University's Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, and the creator of an online archive of 10,000 abandoned documents from the former Melbourne signwriting firm Lewis & Skinner, which operated from the early 1900s to the 1960s ( He also writes a blog about Melbourne ghost signs ( Stefan holds a PhD from RMIT University and is a Berry Family Fellow with the State Library of Victoria.

Level 17 Artspace, VU City Flinders Campus, 300 Flinders St, Melbourne

Tuesday 12 March, 4.00pm – 7.00pm

Free - refreshments provided

RSVP: by Thursday 7 March

Enquiries: 99194362

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Here kitty....

Snap recently taken by a friend in the Melbourne CBD. He captioned it with 'not so much a ghost sign but a lurking presence':

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A bayside ghost sign search, plus a few others

Thanks to last week's beautiful evening weather in Melbourne town, I got out on the bike after work to snap a few signs I'd seen previously. I made my way down the Beach Road bike path, starting in Middle Park and ending up at Rickett's Point, stopping along the way to examine the shopping strips at Hampton and Sandringham.

As well as spirit-lifting views of the Port Phillip bay, I stumbled on a few very nice ghost signs, as well as a few more standard-issue ones

Firstly, Hampton, which although having been painted and preened to an inch of its upwardly-mobile life, managed to retain a few signs of its former self:

Next up, Sandringham:

The trip back, some three hours later, was quite a treat, with the sun setting over the bay and reflecting off city buildings:

To finish, here are a few more ghost signs from other parts of Melbourne, snapped on the way to other places:

South Melbourne, the evening of the bayside visit. Had seen this one from the car on the way down when I'd stopped at the lights. It was in a dark alley...I hope to snap it again during the day when the whole thing is visible and I might be able to see what the "1 pound to 100 pounds" refers to.

North Fitzroy - this looks like the first backwards/reversed ghost sign I've ever seen. Wonder how this came to pass?

Preston - repurposed in a back alley

West Heidelberg - the industrial bit