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Signature

AN OPPORTUNITY TO ACQUIRE A RARE LIMITED EDITION OF AN ARTBOOK BY PAUL CARTER AND SEAN HOGAN Signature celebrates an aspect of Paul Carter’s distinguished public art practice, his unique typographical inscriptions installed in award-winning public space design projects, including Homebush Bay (Sydney 2000 Olympics), Federation Square, 180 Brisbane, State Square (Darwin), Scarborough Beach (WA), Harmony Square (Dandenong) and Yagan Square, Perth. The inscriptions are poetic compositions arising from the creative through lines, or place-making impulses, embedded in the site’s cultural and environmental history. As a rule, these identifying creative or generative traces are missed or recessed. By using a poetic logic able to expose convergences, coincidences and cross-overs of sense, Carter produces original place signatures. These differ from conventional dedicatory texts not only in their content but in their arrangement and distribution, which characteristically operate at a scale where reading and treading elide. Sean Hogan, Signature’s designer and Paul Carter were drawn to this book project by the challenge of putting writing designed to be ‘outside the book’ into a physical format whose unit was the page and whose conventional organisation was linear. Neither condition applies to the public space inscriptions, whose composition, internal design and external relationships are dictated by the social life of the city, not the solitary introspection of the reader. In this regard, each of the inscriptions offered a different challenge. While the nine ‘Contractions’ of ‘Golden Grove’ could be printed in regular lines, the ‘endless’ lines of ‘Relay’ resisted any kind of framing. There were other considerations: the nine ‘Federal Visions’ of ‘Nearamnew’ gain much from Carter’s own performance of the inscriptions; in this case, a quasimusical system of markings was improvised that respected the unusual mingling of quantitative, or length-based, phrasing and stress-based rhythmic arrangement. The goal of these typographic rearrangements and associated markings was the clarification of the poetic logic. A legibility was sought that preserved the original strangeness (or outsider status) of the compositions whilst making them legible within the book. This did not mean resisting playfulness: while it was agreed that the original typefaces should not be used – Signature is a poem book, not a catalogue – texts that called out for a poème concrète interpretation were presented uninhibitedly. The hinged English/Noongar inscriptions, adapted from ‘Mystic Edge’, dramatize the cross-cultural encounter storied in that bilingual work with an immediacy that could not be matched in the original ground inscription. Similarly, the single letter columns of ‘Rival Channels’ allude to the reed beds of the Brisbane River, a pictographic pun that had not been feasible in the original public artwork. Summing up in the Introduction, Carter writes:

An arc of prayer describes Signature, the precarity of the stranger struggling to negotiate the protocols of entry, to annex his future to a foreign past, to name the gods whose will lies buried in the ground.

Composed over twenty five years, the public inscriptions put into this book also stage a return: at the beginning is a mumbled, stumbling overhearing of the Kaurna account of colonisation, its prophecy and actualisation; at the conclusion is a child’s version of ‘Welcome to Country,’ faithfully discussed and realised in English and Nyungar.

Inside the outer arc of the rainbow, a shaman’s version of the creation comes back as the intimate staccato of a Lewin’s Rail on the Brisbane River, interpreted here as the watchful spirit of change. The curving line of Melbourne’s Nearamnew spans the entire reflexive history of a place being made: coming into shape, colonisation, renewal and governance, construction and reconstruction; but these inscriptions also bend back to a new beginning, the visitor walks in the paths of those gone before.

In another register, the arc is the curving track of the race, the parallax effect created by reading/treading causing the history of the Olympic Games to flash by. Through the prism of golden grove, a phrase that in Sydney was nine-layered, I invoked the aid of the Pleiades, a constellation shaped like a question mark: the genius of the place they conjured up was a spiral, a rainbow in embryo.

And I find, looking back, the recurrent desire to recapture the hope of childhood, at the other end of the rainbow to find what it was looking for, the treasure of proper translation and growing up.

Signature is a unique collaboration between poetry, place and graphic design. Created at the intersection between voice and architecture, it reanimates the meaning of volume. Recognition: 2021 ABDA Award (Australian Book Designers Association): Best Designed Independent Book 2021 Premier’s Design Awards: Finalist 2020 AGDA Award (Australian Graphic Design Association): Publication design 2020 AGDA Award (Australian Graphic Design Association): Judges Choice ‘Signature’ is a book I’d want on a shelf within reach; I can imagine dipping into it often, looking for inspiration. I admire the care and dedication involved in designing a unique typographic approach for each poem based on the subject matter, but also the poem’s rhythm and phrasing. The cloth bound volume feels more like a portfolio of individual artworks than a conventional book, a reminder that the work originally existed ‘in the world’ rather than being designed for the page. This collection gives readers an opportunity to consider the complexity of what it means to ‘belong’ in Australia, to imagine how we might reconcile our environmental and colonial history, through beautifully crafted visual poems. Zoë Sadokierski, Juror (AGDA Awards 2020) Book Features: – Linen bound hardcover – Debossed and foil inlay cover – Matt black edge gilding – High quality internal stock Free shipping within Australia