15 June 2015

Junction Road ghostsign repainted. Grunt.

Every now and then some ill-advised or mis-guided muppet with a vague idea that he/she is preserving history sets to with brush and paint and has a half-arsed attempt at touching up an old ghostsign; a ghost of the past.

This sign in Junction Road, N19, has also been attacked, sorry... renovated. 

Before (top) and after (below)
The original wording for Auction Rooms & Depository sat within or on top of an old panel (see the top right corner where it doesn't quite fit). Another [later?] sign that ended with 'furniture' can be seen at the very bottom. Note how all the chunky black letters were outlined with white and had a 3D-effect drop shadow which, I think, being as it has faded faster, was probably in another colour.
Now compare that with the revised version which has all the words rendered in the same flat grey with no attempt at 3D, and the area in the middle has been scrubbed clean/ painted flat, thus losing any hint of what the rest of the lettering might have said. 'Furniture' on its own means nothing. What exactly has been achieved here?

Two prime examples of this kind of repainting abuse can be found in Covent Garden (left) and Stepney (right).
Advertising spaces have always been updated and repainted as new signs for new products or businesses have been over-painted onto them over the decades. And this is still happening today. For example, in Upper Street Islington, an old sign for the Hare and Hounds Garage was scrubbed back and overlaid with a modern pastiche to advertise the bar and restaurant below. I was initially sad to lose the old sign, but realised that it made sense for the new owners to utilise the advertising space. It has subsequently been altered again by the latest owners.
But, back to my main point; I just do not understand what is achieved by just tarting up and repainting an old sign when the business or product is no longer relevant. Leave it alone. Let it fade. Don't touch!
I'd rather see the whole wall painted over with block colour rather than this kind of considered damage.

Another example of poor workmanship can be found on this hand-painted wall sign above Leverton Ltd opposite Mornington Crescent tube station. It is, to my eye, truly awful. The sign was probably originally commissioned by the owners of the company over 100 years ago. Levertons is still trading today (people don't stop dying!) and has at some time in the last decade engaged a contractor to clean up the sign (google streetview shows it has looked like this since at least 2008). But oh dear, as with Flegg (above), this most surely is not the work of anyone who has an inkling about letterform – just look at the inconsistent letter shapes, specifically the bad centres on the Rs, the lumpy bits, the wobbly curves, the thicks and thins, the mis-aligments and the general slap-dash thic-is-best attack. Need I go on?

I'll stop now. I don't like criticising. I wish I didn't feel the need to. But sometimes it needs to be said.

Thanks for reading. See you soon.

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Thanks, Jane