Friday, December 28, 2007
Ulker Cokokrem, now on sale in the UK, is a Turkish liquid chocolate confection packaged in toothpaste style tubes. Perhaps its sugar-saturated contents will be a hit with sweet-toothed children. The acidic green and red packaging is what locked my own adult eye in pleasurable wonderment. Garish candy-stripes and bulging typefaces are seldom used by Western European graphic communicators, but here they are working a treat, like a breath of unsophisticated Bosphorous air. Look how the Turkish designer revels in presenting the product smeared on a crust of bread in total un-natural, lava-like, rippled glory. See how the tube's goofy troglodyte cartoon character could be almost drawn by Ed Roth and how the red plastic cap works as the trog's headgear. Perfect!
I hope I'm feeling well enough by New Year to munch a little bit of Ulker Cokokrem. As they say in downtown Istanbul...mmm, Kremasi!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Sick-Note Bagnall. My sincere apologies to all my friends who I was unable to send Happy Christmas wishes to. I've been struck down with the worst streaming cold since I was a lad in short trousers. The timing couldn't have been worse. Pax Vobiscum to you all and I hope you'll keep reading and commenting in 2008 A.D.
Above photo is of St. Padre Pio revering the Christ Child during a 1960s Christmas at Pietrelcina, Italy.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
If you feel compelled to spend your miserable wages on Christmas Tat then these examples of festive kitsch are about one degree preferable to the corporate evils on display in our Capitalist marketplaces. Why? This German Advent calendar doesn't contain any branded chocolate and so you may happily reflect on The Annunciation and the Flight to Bethlehem etc. without teeth decay /contributing to some fat Cadbury executive's Christmas bonus. The St.Nicholas doll above may look cute but he is definitely not modelled on the dominant company-originated image of Santa Claus we all have to put up with. The red-suited and white-bearded brand of Santa comes directly from Coca Cola advertising in the 20th Century. This St.Nick is offering what he owns to the poor and there's not a Nintendo Wii in sight!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Winter is definitely upon us, but so is the season of Advent, the start of the church year and the holy period of preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ.
Adventus is the Latin word for "coming" and is the exact equivalent for the Greek word parousia, the word most commonly used in reference to the Second Coming.
On Sunday you were all permitted to light the first candle on your Blue Peter coat-hanger Advent Crown. I hope you remembered to ask permission from Dad to use his matches...
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Cardboard Box Art. I've always liked the simple images you find printed onto functional cardboard boxes. At a time when most graphic communication is over-sophisticated and pretentious the sight of a basic pictogram warning a warehouseman to go easy with his Stanley Knife warms the cockles of my heart. I cut the above example off a box found this week and the image seems to be a more eccentric variation of the message "careful with your knife when opening this box". My interpretation is this: Don't insert your beef-slicing cleaver into this packaging or you might split the thread on the bobbins inside, especially when wearing a dickie-bow.
More cardboard art to follow.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Firework Art. Walking to church this morning at 8.30am I couldn't help taking note of the previous night's firework detritus in the streets. Not only were the used label designs disappointingly perfunctory, unimaginative and basic but most people seemed to have celebrated Bonfire Night two nights early!
Loyal readers will know that hand-painted signs are one of the regular obsessions of this blog, including rare "ghost signs" painted onto brick. I can't take credit for the above double beauty, though. It's from Sam Brown's excellent brickads site. For more of Sam's fine collected vintage advertising go here.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Hand Painted signs of the amateur variety seemed to abound in Transylvanian back-streets. Most of them were practical warnings for selfish folk not to park their clapped-out Dacia cars in front of wooden garage doors but I particularly liked the "Posta" one with its envelope diagram, artfully slapped onto a doorway encrusted with years of weathered paint.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Back from Transylvania! A fortnight has passed since returning from this adventure (too many mishaps like a cancelled plane and a middle of the night dental hospital visit for it to be called simply a holiday.) Nevertheless, this region of Romania has indelibly carved it's virtually Third World identity on my heart. The mountains were beautiful, the architecture exotic, the people both friendly and religious and the food/drink hearty and very cheap. I was happy to see Transylvanian's earning something from the Dracula merchandise they had for sale near Bran Castle, though since getting home I'm tired of being asked "Let me have a look at your neck..."
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
I hope none of you fellows have ever been on the receiving end of this withering judgement, the latest in my series of Disappearing Phrases drawings.
A midden, for those who don't know, is a dung-heap commonly used before the advent of modern sanitation. I've never heard this phrase spoken by anyone under the age of 50.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
A hand-painted sign miscellany. These three are all unrelated except for differing degrees of faded-ness and decay.
The first is an out of business barber shop in Bishop Auckland Co.Durham, probably most interesting for the window boards which are now revealing underpainted black on green "highest quality horticulture" lettering behind the flaking red top coat.
The second is a nicely weathered board fixed onto a red-brick end terrace in Blackhall, Co.Durham. Blackhall itself is a small coastal town of such dreary abandonment that its silent atmosphere clings to you like a black cloud long after you have driven away.
The third is from a side-street in Wheatley Hill, Co.Durham. Again this is a place of forlorn decay, only disturbed by sullen gangs of pasty Chavs with Staffordshire Bull Terriers barely under control. I tried to photograph the Catholic Church in Wheatley Hill which is now closed and no doubt due for demolition but was put off by a barking guard dog at the neighbouring Dairy and aggressive teenage lads circling the area on bikes. This sign is a hand painted board over another of an earlier vintage. Both are now virtually illegible.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Pope In The Bathroom. I wrote and drew the above strip for this year's Caption comic convention booklet but didn't get it finished for their deadline, so I'm posting it here. The 2007 convention's theme is "Dreams & Nightmares", not usually my kind of subject-matter, but this vivid dream was fresh in my mind and I thought it needed to be set it in the semi-autobiographical Fairfield Prodigies Liverpool neighbourhood which I've mentioned in earlier posts.
By the way, my Dad really did once wear a Tam O'Shanter like the knitted one in panels 2 and 3. Click image to enlarge and read!
Thursday, August 02, 2007
The setting of St. John Vianney's life was France in the years after the Revolution, when bishops, priests, nuns and seminaries were being violently suppressed. He inherited the rural parish of Ars which was sunk in drunkenness and debauchery and through great effort eventually made it a model of sanctity. He was intent on eliminating "occasions of sin" and even cut down the apple trees in the orchard to deprive the village boys of the temptation to go scrumping. He disdained to sleep in a bed, the floor was sufficient for him. For food he would cook a pan of potatoes once a week, hang them in a wire basket and eat them until there were none left. The final potatoes were always rotten and wormy.
Counter-cultural and extreme to the last, this bony old cove somehow inspires a lot of affection in me. Pray for us today, St. John Vianney.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I like this set of I like postcards. Here is my left hand happily clutching the first paper and print examples of Anne Ward's unique photographic snaps usually only seen online on her deservedly acclaimed blog.
Anne should have an Alan Whicker style budget to further her travels with camera, husband and two children. Take a look at her collection here and I guarantee you'll be impressed, dazzled and delighted.
Monday, July 30, 2007
My friend Gordon Wearmouth (who is in his 70s) said the only drawback to these cafe venues was that they had no licence to sell alcohol - he and his mates used to skip every third tune, nip over the wall to a pub, swig a pint in record time and be back before the band had struck up the next opening chord.
It's a miracle this sign has survived so long. Below it is a Primary School playground, can't believe it hasn't been painted over with some hideously bright community mural which educationalists seem to think stimulate young children.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Look, Tunnocks on wheels!
This Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Wagon has to be the smartest livery on the UK's roads today, especially since the Eddie Stobart Haulage Co. tragically dropped their traditional green and red brush-written cabs in favour of sad and underwhelming Photoshop digital signage. And to add insult to injury, Stobart drivers now may wear sloppy corporate polo-shirts instead of their once compulsory collar, tie and v-neck pullovers...how standards have dropped in the transport cafe milieu.
I've quite often spotted these fabulous Tunnocks vehicles on the road but have never had a camera in my pocket to take a snap. The other week I was very lucky to see this sparkling beaut parked up on an Industrial Estate in Chester-le-Street, Co.Durham. I was as happy as a trainspotter on a busy day at Crewe Interchange to get this shot.
But there is more to add to the whole Tunnocks biscuit debate first begun on my post of 5th July. A close gourmand friend has dropped a line to say: "much as I love Tunnock's teacakes and the packaging and their business philosophy, can't help but feel Lee's have the edge with their Snowballs and I really love Gray & Dunn's caramel wafers without the chocolate coating". I'll admit that Lee's snowballs are delicious with a cup of PG Tips and the (now rare) Gray & Dunn "bare" wafers are a spartan treat maybe even permissable during Lent, yet I feel even if Tunnocks products were made of noxious wax the packaging would still make them the outright winner in anyone's traditional confectionery stakes.
So, despite my sanctimonious condemnation of the power of contemporary marketing, I have to concede design wins over taste-on-the-tongue in this particular case. Any comments on products bought mainly for their visual appeal would be welcome. One other example for me is Wright's Coal Tar Soap. I love its plain paper packaging and the 1st World War style odour, but any contact with my problematic 21st Century skin would be inviting terrible sores and flaking...
Monday, July 23, 2007
Bagnall's Retreat is just over One Year Old! Should have had a couple of jars round the snug to celebrate. Nothing can spoil a good booze-up like a bloke who won't get his round in, though. Astute readers will recognise the above Disappearing Phrase as a variation on the "Long Pockets, Short Arms" syndrome...
Sunday, July 08, 2007
14th Sunday of the Year. Have just discovered this jaw-droppingly beautiful photo archive of 1960s Catholic Street Altars and Marian Processions from London's East End.