Ghost Signs Wellington

I am currently doing a free online course on heritage and someone posted a link to an Australian website called Ghost Signs Australia. In a comment another person added a post about ‘ghosts signs of Bermondsey’ (London).

I had never heard of the phrase Ghost Signs, but I have quite often taken photos of them. The Australian website says: “Ghost Signs are the marvellous hand-painted signs we see on old brick walls.  The brick walls can be fences, the sides of buildings, above awnings and verandahs, almost any space considered to be prime ‘advertising space’ way back when. Over the years, the vast majority of signs have vanished, either fading away with the weather, or when the buildings were demolished, but thankfully, some have survived the march of time.”

Here in Wellington, New Zealand, where many of our buildings are wooden, I would have to disagree with limiting the definition to only ‘old brick walls’.  Continue reading


Jerusalem, Whanganui and maps

 I have just returned from a brief trip to Jerusalem (not the one in Israel! This one is a very small village next to the Whanganui River in New Zealand). I have written about it before (see this post). So here I will just add some photos.

I also stayed a night in Whanganui and bought the book called ‘Maps’ (UK Five Leaves Publications, 2011) at the local Saturday market. This is mainly a book of short essays about places. I haven’t finished it all yet, but it made me think of my trip in terms of maps. I have also written a post about maps before (see this post).

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Bulls (the town in NZ)

A few weeks ago I went on a Friends of Te Papa bus trip to Bulls in the North Island (about 150 kilometres north of Wellington). Recent marketing makes puns with the name, for example “Bulls: a town like no udder”; Bulls: unforget-a-bull;  or the sign for the local police station “Const-a-bull”. As some of us were walking the short distance from a morning tea welcome at the local RSA club to the Bulls Museum, we passed a sign for the local physiotherapist. I thought of “bend-a-bull”; a better suggestion was “flex-a-bull”. But as they hadn’t invented any pun, they probably thought the whole idea regret-a-bull. Continue reading

St Mary of the Angels, Wellington

20170824_130635Since the devastating Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 there has been more awareness of the need to seismically strengthen some New Zealand buildings. Further earthquakes in 2013 (known as the Seddon earthquakes due to their proximity to Seddon at the top of the South Island) brought this home in Wellington. The modern BP building was damaged in those quakes and has since been demolished. St Mary of the Angels is a historic Catholic church in central Wellington and two of the Seddon earthquakes occurred during masses – one in the morning and one in the early evening. The building visibly moved, including the columns. Although no damage occurred, the decision was taken to close the church and hasten the plans for earthquake strengthening.

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Forgotten Memorials

DSC01711I’m going to lead a ‘Secret art walk’ of Wellington for a group in a few weeks’ time. “Secret Art Walk” was the subject of a brochure issued in 2012 – an initiative of “the Property Council of New Zealand proudly sponsored by Beca”. It was updated a year or two later but is – I think – now considered ‘out of print’ or out of date as it isn’t available at the Wellington info centre. It is mainly about art works located in the foyers of commercial buildings – some in the brochure can no longer be seen, but I have found others too that aren’t in the brochure. Quite a number are labelled, but also quite a number aren’t. As I was doing research for this walk, I came across a website of Stephen Gibbs who did the walk in 2015 and blogged about it over a couple of months. You can download a copy of the original brochure here (PDF): Secret Art Walk Continue reading

The former Erskine College, Island Bay

Where I live in Island Bay, Wellington, I look across the valley to what used to be a Catholic girls’ secondary school known as Erskine College. After the school closed in 1985, the buildings had various uses including as an art school venue. I am not an ‘alumna’ or ‘old girl’ of the school, but I did visit it several times when the art school had exhibitions and I took part in one of their weekend courses once. But it has been listed as earthquake prone and is no longer usable. It has been empty for some years and, as such, the target of vandalism.

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High-rise cities: enchanting cities?

The current online course I’m doing is called ‘Re-enchanting the city’ run by the University of New South Wales.  For a case-study it is using a development in Sydney called Central Park (not to be confused with New York’s more famous Central Park). Located next to the Central Rail Station, it is a development of apartments, offices, shops, food and drink outlets, and a park. It markets itself as Sydney’s new downtown. Early in week one we were introduced to the ideas of Associate Professor Vishaan Chakrabarti (Colombia University), who argues that ‘hyperdensity is good urban design’.[1] His definition is “density sufficient to support intensive public transportation systems – typically regarded as 30 dwelling units per acre or 75 units per hectare”, which “contributes to health, prosperity and sustainability of cities”. Continue reading