What to do in Melbourne town.

21 09 2011

For anyone headed to Melbourne, here’s a selection of things super-cool-shit that kept me occupied around the city.

Accommodation. I stayed at littlegeorgestreet, in Fitzroy; kind of a post-modern B&B that I organised through AirBnB.

The lovely host, Ramona, worked at an organic bakery around the corner so breakfast was a treat. As was her amazing home with its collection of vintage sports equipment. Such a top find and only $60/night.

Ramona's groovy pad

Galleries and stores. So many to choose from, especially ’round Fitzroy. A few standouts were Lamington Drive in Collingwood with its awesome and awesomely cheap prints. Made me long for a house to hang them in.

panelpop goodness

Also Third Drawer Down for quirky gifts, and PanelPop, which prints photos or art onto recycled stone, framed with recycled timber. Freakin’ rad. We also went and checked out Space Invaders – street art at RMIT until Nov.

Bars n t’ings. First morning in Melbourne I focussed on getting lost among its multitude alleys until I stumbled upon Bar Americano, a tiny cafe serving the finest coffee I’ve  had since Italy.

Later that day we hit The Hardware Societe for lunch and then Thousand Pound Bend for a bunch of Doss Blockos beers. Originally, these beers were brewed at a squat in NY, and they come in a paper bag. Ghetto chic, huh? They also taste superb.

Finally to wind up our bar crawl, Anj took us to New Gold Mountain, an unassuming door in Chinatown requiring a phone call to enter and home to gold-standard cocktails.

Other junk. While visiting with my pal KJ, she decided she needed a vintage bicycle. Luckily, just around the corner in Fitzroy, we found Cameron Threthowan, a man dedicated to matching Melburnians with bikes. And boy, does he love his bikes. After enquiring about one stately cycle and pointing out in no uncertain terms I was not a customer, Cam insisted I take a spin, because “…they’re like dogs – they need a good run now and again.”  What a champ.

Also of note was the launch last week of Characters by Stephen Banham; a typographic journey through Melbourne, blending signwriting and storytelling. And regular readers of this column will know just how I feel about typography. I’m buying a copy.

the gospel according to frey

23 08 2011

James Frey:  Reformed addict, fraudster, or just a damned good writer?

I’m going with the latter. Ever since his startling debut novel  A Million Little Pieces  was ‘exposed’ as a work of fiction rather than the memoir of a recovering crack addict, the American writer has been lumped with the label of con-man.

Except that, for my money, it simply makes AMLP all the stronger. What sort of wonderfully twisted and creative mind could come up with such a story?

The guy is one helluva fiction writer, even if his ‘memoir’ falls short. Plus, the fact that Oprah and her minions were among those pointing the finger made me feel the deception was just a whole lot of hot air [and ratings??].

Since then, Frey has gone onto pen My Friend Leonard, plus Bright Shiny Morning .

The first, a sequel to AMLP, deals with life after rehab and the protagonist’s relationship with his gangster buddy.

Bright Shiny Morning however, brings us a slice of LA life, a set of unrelated, ordinary lives unfolding as people go about their business of surviving. Except that it is completely engrossing.

Even on a second viewing, I put aside everything else to burn through it, captivated by tales of the Mexican maid with big thighs for example, or the bum who refuses to drink anything except Chablis.

And now he’s done it again.

The Final Testament of the Holy Bible is his latest. He certainly knows how to stir trouble. It’s a pretty amazing read.

The novel deals with the appearance of a man many believe to be Jesus. Certainly, this bloke claims to speak to (some) god and has a message to deliver, but it’s not necessarily what the people want to hear.

Frey raises one of my favourite religious themes here, one that has cropped up previously in the film Stigmata and even The Da Vinci Code, namely that you don’t need organized religion to be a decent person —  ‘God’ or whomever is up there, just wants you to be a good person. Be nice. Love each other.  Have fun.

This new messiah, named Ben in the book (!!), has a fine time taking religious leaders to task over their ridiculous notion of living by the Word of God.

The world is a different place now…What’s crazy is living your life according to some book written by someone who couldn’t imagine what your life would be like.”

Priest: “Worship makes one’s life better.

Ben: “Love and laughter and fucking make one’s life better. Worship is just the passing of time.”


Go get yourself a copy.

joni sternbach’s tintype photograpy

1 08 2011

Who needs a digital camera when you could be processing your portraits right there on the beach, with the subjects looking on?

This is the approach taken by Joni Sternbach with her ‘Surfland’ series, using a technique unchanged since the 19th century.

Sternbach’s tintype photos are made with a large format camera using wet plates developed on location, resulting in unpredictable, timeless images of surfers and locals.

Landscapes look equally haunting using the wet plate collodion technique and the process just seems to slow time – to capture a slice of history more effectively than any SLR could ever hope to.


the surf art of wolfgang bloch

1 08 2011

There’s no question I’ve spent more time looking for waves than riding them.

Apparently, that’s part of the fun.

I’m not so sure, but it is pretty special stumbling onto a good one after driving half the day.

Wolfgang Bloch also knows that moment; when you crest another dusty ridge and first glimpse distant, windswept perfection.

His palette of rocky browns and stormy greys bookend perfect pointbreaks, reeling off unridden in some faraway place.

It’s the sort of art that encourages you to get off the couch and hit the road and that’s very cool.



Meet Sharan

17 03 2011

So I ventured into Perth to look at some art by Matt Doust yesterday. I do enjoy being able to do these things on a Wednesday afternoon – one of the upsides to hardly working at the moment.

On the way out, we stopped the gallery store – one of those shops which has all sorts of beautifully-designed colourful arty shit that you never knew you needed.

Not surprisingly I discovered something my unemployed self could not do without: a cardboard 35mm panorama pinhole camera in kit-form. And just $35. Done.

As an aside, I also discovered this same gallery (Venn) was run by an old school friend of mine. Nice work, Jade.

Anyway, i finally had my much sought Pano camera. I’d wanted the Lomo one for ages but they’re 500 euros. Took it home. Opened the box. And then freaked out at the complex instructions and sheer volume of parts.

Getting there...note pocketknife.

Apparently it was supposed to take 1-2 hours to assemble. I didn’t time myself, but I reckon I went close. Things might have also gone smoother if every 5th part wasn’t labelled wrongly – possibly something was lost in translation from the Japanese.

Done! The shutter slides down the front.

But I finished her. Meet the Sharan 35 Wide. Boxy, matte black, definitely not waterproof. She’s a beaut.

Results to follow…

Cardboard pinhole awesomeness

lyrical typography

30 08 2010

In my little-known capacity as a frustrated typographer and designer, I recently found time to make an attempt at presenting song lyrics as graphics.

This was inspired by the discovery of a website called Music Philosophy, found through the always amazing Lost At E Minor.

It looked like a lot of fun, so I had a go, as I’m forever quoting lyrics, writing them on t-shirts, jotting down neat ones in notebooks and so on.

Much of the enjoyment came with sourcing and screwing around with new fonts. I’m right into typography lately, even if my manipulation of the graphics etc, leaves a bit to be desired.

Must be such a great job though, working as a typographer. Turning words into art. Maybe I’ll combine it with journalism and have entire features appearing as intricate art projects, hundreds of metres long.

My own efforts were clearly inspired by those appearing on the Music Philosophy site, but I chose a few fave artists whose lyrics meant something to me.

It’s only my opinion, but the original site was cheapened slightly through displaying the lyrics of a few questionable musicians (Alanis Morrisette, Des’ree and My Most Hated Band In All The World – Live. Yuk)

There’s more than enough amazing musos out there to avoid promoting the work of chumps.  (Why, why do people like Dave Matthews Band? Why?)

But music is obviously a very personal thing though and Mr Music Philosophy remains far more talented than I’ll ever be. Enjoy.

Hmm, I'm pretty sure Trent Reznor wrote that.

my favourite from the site

Modest Mouse and Bukowski. Bingo! (That's mine)

Architecture in Helksinki. The band name deserves its own.

good old Youth Group. That's mine too.

get fonted

10 06 2009
by gemma obrien

by gemma obrien

So, for the first in a series of things which I think are just really freakin’ cool, may I present “Go Font Ur Self”.

It’s an exhibition of typography-based artwork running next week in Sydney and Melbourne – basically pieces made up from and utilitising various amazing fonts.

Kind of nerdy, I know, but there’s some interesting stuff  – see for yourself.

Opens Thursday in Sydney and next week, Melbourne.


by sarah king

by sarah king

by berdene du toit

by berdene du toit

by numskull

by numskull