Discovering ghost signs

Hey you. How’s it going? Good? Pleased with the weather lately? Yeah, me too. We needed a bit of rain. Kind of refreshing in a cosy, red wine kind of way.

So, today, something caught my eye. A Love Letter For You. (I found the site because it was tweeted by these people). As quoted from their website:

Love Letter is a project by Stephen Powers with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and is sponsored by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. Generous support provided by the Brownstein Group and Septa.

That’s actually a very modest description of their site. The page in particular I was interested in was the one on murals. Not murials. Murals.  They’ve created a series of murals around Philadelphia, which follow the Market-Frankford elevated train line. There are so many of them, and they’re all so detailed and well-conceived.

Everything about what they’re doing, I love. I love the fact that they’re spreading messages across the city. I love the fact it takes years to get this good at doing what they’re doing. Not everyone can just start up with this skill. It’s a craft. It’s also something which has been going on for decades. And after a little mind-ticking-over moment, I started to look around the internet.

Adverts were once painted on the sides of city buildings. Personally, I can think of no better way to advertise. Hand-painted = quality, which inevitably leads to a strengthening of a brand. I mean, back in the 1890’s, there was no other way. They obviously didn’t have the glorious benefits of high definition, or…….personalised mailings…..or, adverts in the sky over the beach you’re bathing at. The adverts we see these days are generally predictable, computer-generated and everywhere. These brick-wall adverts couldn’t be easily duplicated and probably took weeks to get right. But, as famously quoted in a very old nursery rhyme…’once they were up, they were up’.

This preserved sign was uncovered off Tottenham Court Road  because the building next door had been knocked down to make way for a new crossrail station.

And suitably so, these adverts have been nicknamed ‘Ghost Signs’. They present themselves after disappearing or fading years ago and are now, becoming a local feature, rather than ‘just another advert’.

These adverts (which have been around sometime on sites like Creative Review) have come back into fashion. Clemmow Hornby Inge agency created these old-fashioned ‘hand-lettered’ adverts, based on the long established business of Anchor Butter, since 1886.

And as beautifully these adverts work here (in my opinion), they totally contradict the reason they were created below.

This is going to sound a little strong, but whoever approved this advert being shown in this way, should be removed from their work place. Ridiculous. Surely this ad placement actually defeats the whole point of the advert? Oh, listen to me. What do I know. I’m off my soap box.

BUT. Worry not, friends. The talented Alison Carmichael (who co-produced the Anchor Butter adverts) has things under control.

These adverts which I found via her website are like the 21st century digital version of old-fashioned signwriting. They still have the swirls. They still have the colour. Yet they’re portable amongst platforms. Magazines. Bus stops. Walls. I mean, I still personally prefer the old fashioned wall paintings, but at least sign writing is still alive.

And you know what? Anything typographically-related gets my cockles stirring….


“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…”

Feast your eyes on these snaps taken last week. We may turn our noses up , but you can’t beat a bit of British beach.

Now. Where did I leave my application for the Swanage brass band…?

Purbeck perfection personified

I don’t know about you, but when I go away on holiday, it takes me about 5 days to wind down. To relax. To let go. So, if we’re going on a 7 day holiday, according to my mathematics, thats 2 days of pure relaxation and 5 days of de-stressing. And this frustrates me beyond belief. It frustrates me for two reasons. 1) I know its happening and I don’t seem to be able to control it. 2) It only leaves me with 2 days of proper holiday hours. Our holiday last week was no different to the last few. Man, I was horrible. Snappy. Grumpy. Highly strung. Indeed not a nice person to be around. And my delightful Sven was so patient with me. I don’t know how he does it. He probably knows me better than I know myself and simply came to expect it. Yes. I think that might be the answer.

One day, we visited Tyneham. And this little visit gave me a little metaphorical slap around the chops. This is the third time we’ve been here. And I could probably keep coming back again and again and again. It so peaceful, and comforting. But in a bittersweet way, an unhappy place.

Let’t go back to 1943.

Tyneham was a little village, nestled into the hills not far away from Worbarrow Bay. The village was made up of a school house, a church, a post office and small houses – the rectory cottages, the gardeners cottages, and labourers cottages. According to local history records, just before Christmas in 1943, the village was approached by the Ministry Of Defence, requesting they leave the village prior to the beginning of the Second World War. They were paid a small amount of money to move, however it was barely enough to justify sacrificing their community. They were also promised it would be a temporary absence, which turned out to be untrue. They were forbidden to move back to their village after the war had ended.

Tyneham is now a shell of its former self, yet there are enough remnants to see the community it once was.

In all of the cottages, a local artist (or someone creative) has put together information on the people who lived here. They’re a nice tribute.

Not all of Tyneham is derelict. The school house and the church have been beautifully preserved.

All the original desks showed hand painted wildlife detail.

My favourite of all the houses in Tyneham are the gardeners cottages. They’re set away slightly from the rest of the village, just behind the church and away from the road. They seem so serene when you wander around them, slowing you down as you go. And there is absolutely no noise, apart from the sound of the country that the gentle sea breeze brings along.

Even thinking back to our afternoon at Tyneham whilst I write this makes me feel calm. Maybe I should take myself away there in my head more often. Hmm…I might just do that.

What’s In My Holiday Travel Bag?

Tomorrow, we’re heading to Dorset in the camper van. We only just decided to go away yesterday. One week or two? Not sure yet, but its more likely to be one. I can’t wait. I love our family holidays. They’re always in England. We always go in the camper van. And we always create the best memories together. When you know you can get on away on holiday, you just know its right.

(Image courtesy of Emma Case Photography)

The last holiday we had, was in April earlier this year. We stayed at a hilltop campsite in Polruan. At the bottom of the steepest hill I’ve ever walked down (the locals claim holiday makers return home after meeting this hill) is a little pedestrian ferry which takes you over the estuary into Fowey, the prettiest hilly Cornish town, busy with old fashioned life. This holiday was as close to perfect as it could be. The weather was notably amazing. We didn’t have to drive everywhere. There was a lonely little swing on a hill at the campsite, which looked out to sea. If you sat on the swing quietly enough, you could hear nothing. If you sat still enough, you could see the top of the world. When I think about this holiday, I feel like my husband is winking at me across a crowded room. And if I could give the holiday a colour, it would be turquoise. Fresh, happy and clean.

The holiday we’re embarking on tomorrow takes us near Studland. A-mazing beach. Have you been? No? Well, get yourself down there. It’s like being in the mediterranean. The first time we drove through Studland, we were going out in our first trip in our 1965 VW camper van. It was a shell. The only thing in there, apart from 7/8ths of the contents of our house, were the front seats, where three of us squidged together. This drive was the first time I drove the bus and the roads, I remember, were particuarly windy. Not windy, as in the wind was blowing. But windy, as in oooh, a bit more left, and noooo, bear right more, Victoria. My knuckles were a shade of..hmm…let me think. Oh yes. White. My eyes strained. My tummy turned. My head ached with concentration. But I loved every second. And for a girl, I did alright. That was another precious holiday. Our first as a family.

When we go away, as well as packing a hefty amount for everyone else, I also pack a little satchel of stuff for me. Its pretty rare I’ve used any of what I’ve taken up to now and I have started to wonder why I bother. But I can’t not take anything. I know I’d be upset if I had a rare moment to myself and couldn’t do something like draw or write or read. So, its more of a bag of comfort. A comfort bag. Yes, I like that. A comfort bag.

I normally take a book of fiction. A book of something that I’m interested in at present, like letterpress printing techniques. Or fonts. Weird, I know. Some of you may get it, some definitely won’t. A magazine. A load of pens and pencils. The bags diminish in size each time, and I think this trips is going to be the smallest. Here is what I’m taking:

  • Fine line coloured pens
  • Pencil case (my mum bought me this years ago. It’s my fave.)
  • My new book, Drawing Lab by Carla Sonheim. Its brilliant.
  • Computer Arts Magazine. I’m a nerd but I’m ok with that.
  • A new exercise book I received in the post today from Present & Correct
  • My Moleskine sketch book
  • My Mokeskine diary, all bundled up with my book band, also from Present & Correct.

Do I need anything else? Most definitely. Will I take anything else? No. That would be madness. Let’s see how much of this I use. I’ll let you know when I come back, shall I? Ok.

P.S If you haven’t done already, don’t forget to vote for me if you like my blog….you can vote by clicking here to go to the Dorset Cereals Little Blog Awards Nomination page. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see me on the right side of the screen as Lovebird.