Art and About
Engaging with the creative force in everyday life

October 28th, 2007

The Inspiration is in the Mail

Posted by christina in Web Columns

I have trained myself to see art just about any place I look, but even I still get surprised when and where it pops up. Looking at a wine bottle as a piece of art is not too much of a stretch. I know countless hours of thought and experimentation by every vintner go into shaping bottles for visual appeal and product display. Although my palate has never developed much of a taste for wine, my eye is often drawn to a striking label and the endlessly creative imagery on the bottles.

I was at Costco and found myself drawn to several bottles of red wine, primarily because they were in the under $10 category. All of them were new to me so I admit, I was picking the ones that looked prettiest. An Australian wine called Red Pillar Box with a simple, clean design and bright red label appealed to my eye and my wallet. I stuck it in my basket and continued on to the produce section.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later and the pouring of a second glass of the Pillar Box Red that I noticed an unusual amount of writing on the back of the label and around the bottle’s neck. The label read:

“Bronze, Gold, Green, Blue and Chocolate Brown were all colours applied to pillar boxes. In fact, their livery mainly depended upon the personal choice of the district surveyor. That is, until 1874, when pillar box red became the standard colour for the highly decorated mail posting boxes.”

How’s that for a bit of education with my quaffer? I have admired Australia, and the British Isles, for their bold red mailboxes but I admit, I never thought about the fact that at some point, someone had to make the design decision that all mailboxes would be red. It’s one of those touches of color in the daily lives of millions of people that they no doubt take for granted. As an American accustomed to the dark blue mailbox, I find the red variety in foreign lands to be whimsical and charming.

My eye was then drawn to the writing around the neck of the bottle:

“The first pillar box was erected in Australia after the introduction of postage stamps in the 1850s. Several of these elaborately designed receivers still exist as stoic reminders of a time when beauty could be found in the most mundane – even in the posting of one’s letters.”

Can you picture a world with unique and highly decorative post boxes? It would be a world with a little more color than we have now. I understand the need for standardization, but I smile at this historical link to our collective creative past. People really do find a way to express themselves when and where they can.

The wine took on a different flavor for me once I knew where the name had come from. The hints of green wood and concentrated dark cherry in the bouquet were enhanced by my imagery of 19th Century Australia and the time before the taming of the pillar box.

For those of you who do actually care about the art of winemaking itself, the 2006 Red Pillar Box is from Padthaway, Australia. It is a second label from Henry’s Drive comprised of 42 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 50 percent Shiraz and8 percent Merlot. I don’t know anything about Henry’s Drive as winemakers, but I do know they are masters of the enticing and enlightening label.

Leave a reply

:mrgreen: :neutral: :twisted: :shock: :smile: :???: :cool: :evil: :grin: :oops: :razz: :roll: :wink: :cry: :eek: :lol: :mad: :sad: