The beloved AQUA PROFONDA sign at the Fitzroy Swimming Pool in Melbourne.
This c.1954 hand-painted sign is listed on the heritage register for its social and historical significance due to its association with Australia’s post-war migration program. The sign was originally installed as an initiative of the pool manager who was constantly rescuing migrant children from the deep end of the pool: Mr Murphy asked an Italian friend what the words for "deep water" were in Italian and had them painted at the deep end. "Aqua" is actually a misspelling of the Italian word: the correct spelling is "acqua" ("aqua" is the Latin spelling).
A landmark since its earliest days, the sign began an ascent to iconic status with its use as a recurring motif in the famous 1977 Helen Garner novel 'Monkey Grip' (the subsequent film is an Australian new-wave classic). The beautiful metaphor of being in 'deep water' continues to inspire local artists such as Courtney Barnett, whose song 'Aqua Profonda' also preserves the famous misspelling.
The feel, colours, detail and composition in this illustration by Harper and Charlie were inspired by the work of the brilliant Australian precisionist painter Jeffrey Smart. Harper and Charlie tried to imagine how the painter may have approached such a painting, and the bright red and white lifebuoy is a nod to Smart, who always threw something obscure, quirky or ironic into his compositions.
Harper and Charlie specialise in original retro prints celebrating the culture, architecture and design of Melbourne and Australia.
Inspired by art from the 1950s and 60s, Harper and Charlie use vintage print techniques to achieve their authentic feel. If you look closely you might be able to spot the careful details - slipped registration, slight colour-bleed, or light scuffs in the design - that give these beautiful prints their warmth and character.
All Harper and Charlie prints are designed and made right here in Melbourne using the highest quality commercial grade inks. All prints use premium grade Ilford 180gsm matt paper.
Large prints will be posted carefully rolled in a tube and protected with a layer of brown paper. A4 prints will be posted flat, sandwiched between Kraft board.
Material(s): Commercial grade pigment inks, ILFORD 180gsm matt paper.
Dimensions (cm): Small - 27 x 21 (A4), medium - 40 x 30 (A3), large - 80 x 60 (A1).
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