January 26 is Australia Day. (For foreign readers, Australia has no Independence or Revolution or Treaty in its history, so we just named our national day after ourselves.)
Australia Post began marking Australia Day in 1978, usually with a theme of settlement, Aboriginal culture, art, or patriotic symbols. They were generally attractive designs, even if some of the early ones reek of imperialism. A superb run of supersized stamps in 1994-7 depicted modern Australian art, and 1982 must surely feature the first appearance of the hijab on an Australian stamp.
The Australia Day stamps will make an interesting blog one day, but for now, let us simply love how much these ‘flag’ designs reflect their era.
1978: For we are young and free
1981: Woooooo, it’s the 80s! Check it out! 3D!
1987: Stand back everyone, here comes THE FUTURE
1991: Oh. The future’s a bit dull. Quick, someone invent grunge
The Legends are born
The final official ‘Australia Day’ release in 1997 coincided with the first annual Australian Legends issue, in which AP honours Australians who have achieved things. It broke a long-standing rule that the British royals were the only identifiable living persons depicted on Australian stamps. It’s a risk putting a living person on a stamp, because one never knows how they might yet disgrace themselves. Luckily, notable Australians never turn out to be pedophiles.
The header of this blog comprises two images that I felt were thematically and philosophically apt.
The colourful stamps in the background come from Australia’s 2006 ‘Rock Posters’ release, showcasing the talents of Australian designers as demonstrated in posters for various festivals, tours and gigs. I loved this issue. It was a kick in the balls compared to our usual diet of cute furry animals and dreary royals. Nice to see Australia Post acknowledge the possible existence of Australians who might not be as obsessed with sport and wildflowers as it seems to think most of its market is.
(Nerd note: if you’re wondering where I got these stamps in a se-tenant sheet format as seen in my background, I made it myself. It doesn’t exist.)
The image I’m using as my avatar is that of a stamp released by the UK in 2012 as part of a Great British Fashion issue. This particular stamp features a harlequin dress designed by Vivienne Westwood in 1993 – not exactly punk in itself, but the Dame was instrumental in popularising punk fashion back when it was a thing, working with Malcolm McLaren to outfit the Sex Pistols and all that. Her ethos of using shock to stick a spoke in the system might be something to which this blog can aspire. Here’s the full set:
What a coincidence, Punk is wearing that little black Alexander McQueen number at her desk as she types.