Friday, September 18, 2009

street graphics from another land....egypt

When i was eight years old my mum took me to Egypt-  the cultural extravaganza of colours, smells, architecture, people and food was amazing-the realization that there is allot more happening out there in the world outside of Australia, or in the least inner western sydney, where i grew up. 

Modern Egypt is a fantastic mix of ancient and new coming together, culturally and graphically. There are three distinct cultures and visual styles: ancient Egyptian imagery, a developing Western international style and the traditional Arabic calligraphy of Egypt’s Islamic majority.
Egypt is a land of graphics and symbols, ancient and new, ever morphing, and like no other place on earth. Thousands of years ago egyptians carved a pictorial history of Pharaonic culture on their temples, tombs and monuments. Hieroglyphs- a written language of symbols. Representations and interpretations of this ancient culture saturate modern Egypt's tourism industry, from hotel signs to petrol booths, souvenir stalls, market stalls. There is a beautiful contrast of signage, colourful and diverse- new imagery thriving alongside the traditional in stark contrast or startling confusion of ancient culture cross modern Egypt. 

One thing i find interesting about Australia is our cultural diversity. We have little pockets of life from all over the world- China town, Italian suburbs, African suburbs, Maltese, Lebanese, Indian, Croatian... there are suburbs where the menus and signage for restaurants, doctors, supermarkets stocked with products all written in other languages. 

The lettering, characters and typography hold a decorative feel and mystery to my untrained eyes. Grid tetris block styled  Korean lettering, the calligraphy of Arabic, unpronounceable greek lettering, perfectly placed Japanese characters.  I love the gamble of buying unknown substances in brightly wrapped packaging from Asian supermarkets, new taste and smell sensations. Potions and lotions, perfumes and oils.

As a designer i think that it is important to think and design globally- especially as the gap between cultures is getting smaller and smaller, with globalization and westernization of the planet. I feel it is crucial for cultural diversity alive. 
I came across a book "street graphics Egypt" by Barry Dawson. It is a photographic record and colourful source of diverse street images. Visually it is inspiring, although the written content is minimal.

1 comment:

  1. totally overwhelming....have you got a bit of Egyption in you? i look forward to you're class discussio..."walk like an egyption" roxy music...right?