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The walls of Melbourne's west speak again

Historical hand-painted signs of Melbourne’s inner west are being celebrated in a new exhibition.

A treasure trove of old images and documents will bring to life the artistry of hand painted signs from milk bars, service stations and other shops from around Footscray, Yarraville and Seddon. This includes a large collection of job sheets, photos and drawings from former sign firm Lewis & Skinner, rescued last year from a Footscray demolition site.

The exhibition runs from October 2 to 6 at Lady Moustache café in Yarraville and will feature live sign writing each day from 12.00pm to 2.00pm by local signwriting artisan Tony Mead.

Exhibition organiser and Victoria University researcher Dr Stefan Schutt, said hand-painted signs were reminders of lives long forgotten or destroyed by social and economic change.

"These signs tell us how old inner-urban communities used to live, shop, travel, eat and meet," he said.

"People are increasingly keen to connect with the history of their local area, and there’s also been a resurgence of interest in the craft of signwriting. As part of the project, we will be getting in touch with 50 local people whose buildings had signs painted on them by Lewis & Skinner – so you might get a knock on your door soon, or a 1950s job sheet in your letterbox."

Dr Schutt said the exhibition was also a chance for anyone else to share the history of their area - either through the Lewis and Skinner website or at the exhibition itself where researchers will be taking notes.

The project is supported by Victoria University, the State Library of Victoria and Lady Moustache café.

Dr Schutt has become well known for hunting ‘ghost signs’ all over Melbourne and beyond.


Exhibition details:

Lady Moustache café 84 Gamon Street, Yarraville

Wednesday, October 2 – Sunday, October 6 (8 am to 4 pm daily)


Available for interview:

Dr Stefan Schutt, Research Program Leader (Cultural Diversity, Technologies and Creativity)

Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, Victoria University

(03)  9919 1618; 0410 387 622; [email protected]


Media contact:

Michael Quin, Research writer

Public Affairs Department, Victoria University

(03) 9919 9491; 0431 815 409; [email protected]

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