Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rural hand-painted sign. I've driven past this very nice amateur sign nearly every day in the past few months and have grown to love its untutored gloss-paint brushiness. Pointers to its unprofessional charms are (a) closeness of lettering to border (b) confusion between upper and lower case letters, note the dotted 'i' and (c) random application of a serif on the letter U.

This formica beauty is located between Leamside and Great Lumley, Co. Durham.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Still Open For Business. These photos of severely decaying retail premises come from a visit I made yesterday to Stanley, Co. Durham. I was there for Saturday morning Confession at St. Joseph's, a magnificent 19th Century church with a beautifully decorated and dark Lady Chapel which is lit only by the small number of votive candles the elderly faithful choose to pay their 20p for. Parish Priest Father Joe Park is a kindly old priest with not many teeth and whose long winter clerical cloak shows under the velvet confessional curtain hem.
Despite these shops crumbling state they somehow remain open and stand for me as hopeful counter-cultural beacons amid the chain-store strangulation of our land. First pictured is an independent Estate Agent with nailed on plastic letters on its flaking fascia which must have come from a DIY store circa 1976. Please note the hand-written "Can't Get A Mortgage?" notice which you'd never see in a high-street Halifax branch. Next shop is Sandra's Ladies Hairdressers, a shop so unkempt I was certain it must be closed until I watched a head-scarved old lady walk inside and then saw a flourescent light flicker on through its exceedingly grubby net curtains. Last photo is of Beamish Street's garage with a unique weed-filled bathtub as it's welcoming feature.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Modernist Sunday School Art. Found these lovely vintage images on a Norwegian children's book illustration site. This style of popular religious artwork seems to have first appeared in the 60s and is "modernist" only in that it borrows the flat picture-plane, unmodulated bright colours and schematic black-outline representation from mid-20th Century painting. There are also echoes here of Hanna Barbera style cartoons. Being roughly 60 years old this generically modern graphic mode is now quite dated but has also acquired a luscious retro patina. Many parish churches still employ the style in their bulletins and decorations in a bid to communicate in a direct graphic manner. Even my own RC church uses liturgical wall-hangings in exactly the same simplified Matisse meets Derain manner.
New Testament subjects depicted above are the Annunciation, the Last Supper and the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. I love the way the Angel Gabriel is represented as a strictly linear outline rather than the traditional flowing and feather-winged messenger of the Immaculate Conception.