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


  1. Hello! Thanks for stopping by my blog to tell me about this seminar - I'll definitely be arranging to leave work early that day.

    I'm excited to discover new blogs about - and other people fascinated with - old signs. I've been posting photos of old signs mainly on my Gleeful blog for a few years now and I've sparked an interest in old signs in a few other people too. My boyfriend has also turned into an eagle-eyed sign spotter.

    I have been thinking about starting another blog just for my old sign finds, but it looks like I might be reinventing the wheel. Kind of a relief - it would have been a big task!

  2. Hi Jayne.

    Thank you so much for your comment. There are quite a few websites by Melbourne folk who are enamoured with ghost signs. I think it has a lot to do with the history of our city, its boom/bust legacy and the fact that we didn't knock down as many old buildings :) One of my projects for this year is to map out the activity that is out there...will be interesting to see.