Miscellaneous writing

Returning from vacation

Dickens, C. The Voyage of the Beagle. Chapter xxi.

A yacht now, with every luxury of life, can circumnavigate the globe. Besides the vast improvements in ships and naval resources, the whole western shores of America are thrown open, and Australia has become the capital of a rising continent. How different are the circumstances to a man shipwrecked at the present day in the Pacific, to what they were in the time of Cook! Since his voyage a hemisphere has been added to the civilised world

Miscellaneous writing

Splendid isolation

‘Were you to live three thousand years, or even thirty thousand, remember that the sole life which one can lose is that which you are living at the moment; and furthermore, that you can have no other life except the one you lose. This means that the longest life and the shortest amount to the same thing. For the passing minute is everyone’s equal possession, but what has once gone by is not ours…the sole thing of which anyone can be deprived is the present; since this is all you own, and nobody can lose what is not theirs.’

Marcus Aurelius [121-180 BCE] – Meditations, translated M.Staniforth [with variations by J.Pitt], Penguin Books, 2004, p.16-17.

Note: I live and write in Australia. This country, for better or worse, has not had to deal with the enduring tragedy the pandemic has wrought in much of the rest of the world. Indeed, Australia has isolated itself, while its nearest neighbour, Indonesia, is now gripped by a catastrophic outbreak. So much so that Australians have the time to ponder which vaccine to have, and whether they ought to have any vaccine altogether. There is complacency among politicians and the public, for this is a democracy of shallow debate.

Miscellaneous writing

Pandemic memories: Australian version

Pandemic memories from Australia.

Stuffed fluffy kids animals tied to tree branches or gate posts outside houses where there are children; passing at a ‘safe’ distance other walkers; no toilet paper in supermarkets, then the rice and pasta empty; flour too, and cleaning materials/fluids; only certain numbers allowed inside the supermarket at any one time, staff counting and checking; shops empty/closed up at the shopping mall; no planes in the sky, sound of their engines as they throttle up or back; fewer vehicles on roads as people are at home; no using cash; nightly bulletin or morning presser by State and Federal politcos and medical officers; Zoom comes into its own as a virtual platform; driving and thinking am I infected? And if I am what then? People lining up outside Centrelink early on [before it opens its shutters at 8.30am]; marks on the ground where people need to stand to observe social distancing – looks like where actors stand in a film shoot. Have a drink while at the hairdresser, since both bottleshops and hair salons remain open.  

Miscellaneous writing

Another history

From The Odyssey, Book 8 [235-255]

The crowd was silent, but Alcinous said: “Sir, you have expressed, with fine good manners, your wish to show your talents, and your anger at that man who stood up in this arena and mocked you, as no one who understands how to speak properly would ever do. Now listen carefully, so you may tell your own fine friends at home when you are feasting beside your wife and children, and remember our skill in all the deeds we have accomplished from our forefathers’ time till now. We are not brilliant at wrestling or boxing, but we are quick at sprinting, and with ships we are the best. We love the feast, the lyre, dancing and varied clothes, hot baths and bed. But now let the best dancers of Phaecia perform, so that our guest may tell his friends when he gets home, how excellent we are at seafaring, at running, and at dancing and song. Let someone bring the well-tuned lyre from inside for Demodocus – go quickly!”

translated Wilson, M [2018] Norton, NY.

Note: Chosen at random.


Workshop in Australia – updated with testimonial

A wonderful day was experienced last week. Here is one comment:

‘What a wonderful, creative and inspiring day we had at the one day Inner Workshop run by John Pitt out at Mossgrove B&B – a perfect setting for such an occasion.
I would highly recommend this day for anyone interested in learning about sculpture and creative arts…the hands-on approach was great and John bought with him a wealth of talent and knowledge that he loved to share with all of us. I can’t wait for the next one.’

5 October 2015


For those who live in Australia, and more specifically Northern NSW, please note I will be running a one-day workshop The Inner Artist on 1 October 2015.

Limestone and slate sculpture by John Pitt
Limestone and slate sculpture by John Pitt

This workshop – being held at Dorrigo, home of the wonderful Don Dorrigo Gazette, the last newspaper still printed letterpress in Australia, (see here for post about the press) – is not about lettering (though no doubt that will crop up in conversation) but about connecting with your creative self.

I will start with some exercises to loosen your inner self, before moving on to introductory 3D work. The afternoon session will be devoted to carving a piece in soft stone.

If you’d like more information write to me through this page or email The cost is $120.

The workshop is being held at the delightful and peaceful gardens of Mossgrove B&B in North Dorrigo. Morning and afternoon tea provided – BYO lunch for a tranquil picnic in the lovely gardens of Mossgrove.

lettering sculpture

Michael Snape and cut lettering into metal

In Brisbane, Australia, last weekend. Having parked the car in an underground park on the South Bank (this information strictly for those who know Brisbane – a wonderful city with a thriving arts culture – so definitely worth a visit when you are over this way [this is not a paid for advert by the way] ) I notice this sculpture. Michael Snape sculpture

I am drawn, of course, by the lettering cut into  the surface I assume by a welding torch. The piece is tucked away in this location and really does need to breathe in the open air – this would also assist with trying to read the inscription, which, as you can see, is long.

Snape sculpture A23

I made out the words printing press. Thank you Mr Snape. But no thanks to the municipal authorities or whoever for, having presumably commissioned such a piece, gave it the insult of this subterranean setting. For more on Michael Snape click Michael Snape

Brand design

Plain paper packaging – Australia style

I am not a smoker. At least not now. I gave up when I was in my 30s. These images are from packets I have found on the kerbside, in the road, in waste-paper baskets. This is the Australian response to cigarette advertising. The so-called ‘plain paper packaging’ response. The campaign has been nominated for a graphics award. See here. But this is so more important than any award. Is the campaign working in Australia? Too early to tell. People will still smoke. That is their democratic right.

Warning – some readers may find these images challenging.

[Note from Feb 25 2013 : The packaging is now up for a design award. See here.]

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Brand design Thoughts on lettering

Brand design from the Olympics (just past)

Go Aussie. This can of Coca-Cola found, discarded, illustrates the transience of not only an event but of a font…

Brand design History of Lettering lettering

Stamp design – Australia style

I posted a while back now (see here) on the typography of the postage stamp. (Other posts here)

Yesterday I caught this radio show on the ABC about design trends and history of design in Australia – apparently Australia is in the forefront of design, being the first country to develop the peel and stick stamp for instance.

If you are interested in hearing more this is the link to the podcast:

“In Trends today we’re looking at the design of a product which some of you might think has a finite future: the postage stamp.

In this age of email, how long is it since you stuck a stamp on to an envelope? I honestly can’t remember. Yet since the profile bust of Queen Victoria appeared on the Penny Black in 1840 stamp design has continued to evolve, and Australia has set trends that the world has followed.”