Let us spray

Street Art miniature sheet

Once again I find myself buried beneath an avalanche of boringwork and sadly the blog has gone a bit quiet. But as soon as I caught a chromey whiff of this issue from Australia,  I knew I would have to tell you about it. I give you: Street Art.

Adnate Hosier Lane

Australia has a vibrant street art culture, and full credit to Australia Post for celebrating it with this issue. It has thrilled me since the moment I saw the front cover of the most recent edition of AP’s Stamp Bulletin (a heads-up for philatelic geeks), boasting the same glorious image that appears on the Hosier Lane stamp. I can never get enough of Matt Adnate’s enormous, breathtakingly realistic murals, often paying tribute to Australia’s indigenous peoples. Travelling around our shared hometown of Melbourne, they are a constant source of wonder and inspiration. Take a moment to appreciate the three storeys visible along the right hand side of this stamp to obtain a sense of the scale of his work. A visit to his website is an absolute must. He’s also on Instagram.

As detailed at AP’s Collectables blog, the other glorious artworks featured are Adelaide’s Vans the Omega, Ireland’s Fin DAC, and Melbourne’s Phibs and Rone. AP reports that the Phibs and Rone piece – with its piercing gaze of the female in blue – has been painted over now.

Rone and Phibs Rutledge LaneBut perhaps this image’s destruction fulfills its destiny; Rone’s own website notes that “seeing his artworks gradually worn away by natural and human elements has taught him to appreciate the unexpected beauty of an image as it begins to blend back into its more prosaic surroundings.” The constantly changing canvases on Melbourne’s walls reward those locals who keep open eyes while tracing well-worn paths through the city. How wonderful to have this beautiful work preserved for posterity on a stamp.

I love this issue. I’m not sure what some of the old men of philately will make of it, but I give a whole-hearted Respect to Aussie Post for shredding the notion of which kind of art is Worthy enough to be featured on the nation’s postage stamps. To be honest, I was kinda hoping on some outrage from the right-wing tabloids or radio shock jocks about Australia Post Encouraging This Mindless Vandalism or some such, but I haven’t seen any. That’s either a credit to the cultural maturity of the nation, or an indictment on Australia Post’s publicity department.

I do have one criticism, or a question, at least. Why no artists’ names? If these works are good enough to be selected as feature examples, surely the artists deserve the same credit given to Streeton and Nolan earlier this year? Perhaps it’s a stylistic choice, some nod to the guerilla ethos of street art. I hope it’s not because some fuddy duddy said “We can’t put ‘Vans the Omega’ on a stamp, it would look stupid.” Need I remind you that Australia’s ‘rock posters’ issue featured a stamp that blared ‘Mental As Anything’? (You can spot it in my blog header!)

That aside, it’s worth me repeating this old chestnut: if you’re an Australian, and you’re reading this, remember that you are not obliged to accept the bland postage labels thoughtlessly slapped on your next package by post office staff. That beautiful $4 minisheet at the top of this page is available in post offices and will come in very handy to pay $4+ in postage. Even if it ends up in the bin, you will make this mundane world just a little bit less boring, and what could be a better tribute to the street artists of the world?

Enjoy this post? Spray me on the walls of the world! Like, link, comment, share! Say hello on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! x

 

How exhibitionism stripped me bare

Melbourne 2017 Stamp Exhibition entrance banner

If you’re the kind of reader who usually comes here for the pretty pictures and naughty words, be warned: I am hitting max geek with this one. Street cred be damned.

So a few weekends ago I popped into the Melbourne FIAP Stamp Exhibition, held in my hometown. It led to a rather unexpected journey of personal discovery that may affect the very blog you are reading. More on that later.

I can’t pretend a stamp exhibition is anything but exactly what it sounds like on the lid, but let me talk you through it so that if you ever accidentally find yourself at one, you won’t panic.

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Rhodonites are a girl’s new best friend

Australia 2017 Rare Beauties $1 Rhodonite and $1 Golden Sapphire stamps

Smacking my lips at this issue from Australia Post. Rare Beauties, they’re calling them. They’re all gemstones from the collection of the Australian Museum in Sydney, and what a stunning tribute to the lapidary’s art they are.

The golden sapphire and pink diamond are used in jewellery. The fluorite and rhodonite aren’t, but that’s OK, you can still buy them for me. I simply adore that rich red in the rhodonite.

Australia 2017 Rare Beauties $2 Fluorite stampThe photography of the stones is stunning to start with, but the ‘shadow’ across the geometric background adds a 3-D feel that really makes them pop right out of the stamp.

Y’know what I like about this set the most? The simplicity. When stamp issuers start eyeing off gemstones, for some reason there’s a compulsion to show them in the context of the geological environment in which they are found, or in fugly uncut form (everything is fugly when uncut, amiright ladies), or in the context of an end product like jewellery or industrial product. But there’s no fucking about with this issue. You want gemstones? Fine. Here are some fat fucking gemstones. Straya!

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Australia’s best (and worst) of 2016

Australia 2016 Jewel Beetles $1 Stigmodera gratiosa stamp

…In which I attempt to cover a year of review and bitching in one fell swoop.

Each year, Australia Post holds its annual survey in which stamp collectors can vote for their favourite – and least favourite – issue. This used to be an exercise on paper, with a few variations on a simple ‘What was your favourite?’ ‘What was your least favourite?’ type arrangement, with prize giveaways for random winners. Now it’s gone all high-tech, with a detailed SurveyMonkey page, in which all issues must be ranked in order from 1 to 32.

Australia Posts's Survey Monkey Stamp Poll 2016

On the upside, I enjoyed the OCD-triggering task of putting every single issue in its rightful place. On the downside, no prize giveaways. I guess AP has to pay for its CEO’s $4.8 million pay packet somehow.

I could swear I saw the final results somewhere, but I can’t seem to Google it anywhere, and the survey I’ve linked to above still seems to be open. Surely I’m not so lame that I dreamed it? I saw it in such detail! Maybe I was shown the running tallies when I finished the survey? Anyway, this isn’t your problem. The important thing is that I am going to tell you which were the best stamps and which were the worst, as judged by my own brain, so survey results don’t matter. Why Australia? Because I live there, silly.

In no particular order (and with each issue’s title linking to the extremely commendable Australia Post Collectables blog site for more info), Australia’s unquestionably best issues were: Continue reading

Retrogasm!

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels stamp set

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels stamp setHelloooo! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post. I’m going to make up for my stony silence with loads of pretty pictures, inspired by Australia’s Nostalgic Fruit Label stamps, over which I’ve been soiling myself since their release in June.

They celebrate the paper labels that used to be slapped onto the wooden fruit crates in the olden days before Styrofoam boxes.

What I love about these stamps is that they retain the microscopic details of the original labels. I wonder how many of the three people still using stamps will take a moment to appreciate the artist’s work seen, for example, on this River’s Pride label, and take in the fenceposts, the orchard and the veining on the half-peeled orange.

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels $1 River's Pride stamp

If you, like me, are a little fascinated by oldey-timey culture, it’s not out of the question that something would appeal to you about both these designs and also ye olde schoole world of stamp collecting. You may have been given the impression that it involves a lot of old stamps with kings and queens and presidents on them that cost a lot of money. Well, I have good news. There are no rules. We collect whatever the fuck we want. And one could do worse than start with collecting vintage graphic designs on stamps, because it’s so hot right now. Continue reading

Queen: 1. Punk: 0.

Australia 2016 Queen's Birthday $2.75 Golden Wattle Diamond Brooch

Australia 2016 $1 Queen's Birthday stampHer Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, turned 90 on April 21st, but she’s stretching celebrations out all the way from April until June, because She’s The Queen So Suck It Plebs.

Last year I wrote about Australia’s tradition of marking Her Majesty’s birthday with a stamp issue. In that post, I may have inadvertently given readers the impression that I’m not a fan, with ambiguous phrases such as “pointless allegiance to Empire”, “another country’s monarch is irrelevant to a nation half a planet away in the 21st century”, and “reliably some of the dullest Australian stamp issues each year”.

Well, didn’t I have to swallow my republican tongue with this year’s issue. I didn’t mention it here when it was released, but I keep seeing it at the Post Office, and it is no less stunning for the delay.

Australia 2016 Queen's Birthday $2.75 Golden Wattle Diamond BroochIt’s all about this Australian Golden Wattle diamond brooch. Continue reading

Aussie Post touches my Special spot

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate handprints stamp

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate partial stamp set

Thanks mainly to the recent postal rate hike, Australia Post has been churning out new issues faster than I can keep up with them, albeit still faster than is necessary given that no fucker sends letters these days. Recently we saw a new set of what are known as Greetings or Special Occasions stamps, these ones titled ‘Love to Celebrate.’ Six of the ten are up the top there.

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate heart stamp

You’re meant to stick these on your mail when you’re celebrating something. Cue birthday cakes, wedding rings, baby toys, lovehearts, and the like. There’s also a strong line in flags and maps and national icons that scream “Look! I’m in/from AUSTRALIA!” which must come in handy when writing to people too stupid to work out why the word AUSTRALIA appears on any other stamp you could have stuck on your mail.

I was a cynic at first. I’m old school. I like stamps to say something about the country they represent, and what shits me to this day about these stamps (and their equivalents from any country) is that they tell you nothing about the nation except that someone is having a birthday/wedding/baby/party/patriotic orgasm in it.

But I’ve softened over time. Most of the designs manage to capture some of the joy of whatever is going on. I even swallowed my pride and stuck champagne stamps on my own wedding invitations. (Yes, sorry boys and girls, I’m taken. For now.)

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate golden wattle stamp

What’s more, their appearance on the mail usually means someone’s gone to a bit of thought with their postage, which is a rarity in this age of dreary peel’n’stick definitives and boring cash register receipts where stamps used to go on parcels.

Australia Post’s latest lot really caught my eye, which is saying something, because I tend to sniff at minimalist designs. The roses, champagne and rings are all a bit same-old, though I appreciate that they have to look a certain way to appeal to the lucrative wedding market. (And I wouldn’t reject such items so quickly in the flesh. Send them to me c/o WordPress). And to be honest, I’m still trying to work out what the hell that disjointed map is trying to say.

But the balloon stamp is fun and joyous, and the eucalyptus flower makes a refreshing change from the usual cricket-bat-to-the-face jingoism of the Australia themes.

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate handprints stamp

Took me a little while to work out what was going on in the yellow-and-green stamp, and then I realised it was golden wattle, and then I realised it did a great job of capturing the downy texture of the round, beady flower and its feathery leaf, and then I decided I really liked it, and then I felt like a complete idiot for not seeing it in the first place.

But my favourite is the stamp with the handprints. I guess it means ‘kids’, though one could read some indigenous culture into it without too much trouble. But mainly, it just looks like the kind of fun you’re not meant to have as an adult.

There’s one stamp missing from the illustrations on this page. If you want birthday cake, check out this post.

Respect to Australia Post. Congratulations to design agency Sierra Delta for making me like these stamps, and also for having a name like a classy porn star.

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Another day, another dollar (and fifty cents)

Australia 2015 $2 Golden Rainbow wildflower stamp

Happy 22 days into the New Year, readers!

Sorry I buggered off there at the end of 2015. I was caught up in one of those day-jobs that subsidise my decadent lifestyle choices. Then I just surfed on through the festive season and enjoyed the break. Hope you enjoyed yours, if you’re in any of the countries that had one.

Australia 2015 $1 Love To Celebrate Birthday stampThis site just turned one year old! Thank you for your readership and contributions during 2015. I wasn’t sure if there would be an audience for this odd combination of geekdom and mildly foul-mouthed opinion, but WordPress’s stats wrap-up of 2015 tells me that if this blog were a show at the Sydney Opera House, I would have sold out three nights. Watch out for Punk Philatelist Live In Concert, coming soon to a venue near you! It will be riveting stuff.

Speaking of WordPress, I was chuffed to return from the break to find that I’d scored a mention in The Daily Post, WordPress’s in-house inspiration-meisters, as one of the editors’ favourite blogs of 2015. Aw shucks, thanks Michelle and thanks WordPress! You guys are too kind.

So on into 2016, and there are exciting times here in Australia. Let me explain Australia Post’s recent hi-jinks to international readers and see if you still believe me at the end.

Faced with falling revenue, like all postal administrations, AP just jacked up the domestic letter base rate from 70 cents to a dollar – by far the biggest domestic stamp price rise in our history. But get this: in a stroke of marketing genius, that price hike came with a promise of slower delivery!

Australia 2015 Wildflowers $1 stamps

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A very Punky Christmas

Australia 2015 Christmas stamps (religious)

Australia’s Christmas stamps have been out for a few weeks, so let’s see what Auntie Jan is getting on her Christmas card this year.

The first question is: religious or secular? Australia issues both, befitting a country full of people like Auntie Jan, who will defend our Christian heritage until the cask wine gets the better of her and she keels over, but who couldn’t find the nearest church if a magical star hovered above it.

Australia2015ChristmasReligiousStamps

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