Posted by Yvonne on 04.12.2013

Last week on my way to work I came across two sign writers painting the wall of the side of a shop located in a side street just off Bourke Street, called Royal Lane. Their names are Martin Boyle and Bernard Heuvel. With them was Hazel Dooney, the woman who was commissioned by the Robert Doyle, the Mayor of Melbourne to paint the lane way wall with her mural. 

martin and bernard at work

I was pleasantly surprised to see actual sign writers at work, especially as we have just had five very successful screenings of the Sign Painters Movie screening in several capital cities in Australia.  Martin and Bernard saw the movie too, and it was therefor great to see them at work myself. Of course I needed to know more about this!


Hazel: ” They have 85 years experience between them. They are not part of the current resurgence in hand painted sign writing. Rather, they have been consistently producing hand painted signs for their entire careers, regardless of fashion. Due to the exceptional quality of both their text and pictorial work, they have managed to remain in demand despite the introduction of vinyl lettering etc. As they’ve been painting constantly, they are very highly skilled in all areas: acrylic, enamel, lettering, hard-edge brushwork, air-brushing, brush-blending, etc. They are also fast and have extensive experience in dealing with any kind of surface.”

protecting from the rain

So, what is a dictum? And what is Hazel trying to say with her 10 dicta? 

According to the dictionaries, a dictum is a statement of opinion or belief considered authoritative though not binding, because of the authority of the person making it. In this case, I guess the dicta as put together by Hazel, suggest gentle criticisms and constructive intents?

Hazel: “I learned many of my most difficult lessons here and I wanted to share them in my mural. It is a series of admonishments that are designed to encourage and incite.

“The work is derived from my own need, as a young woman, for someone to give me unvarnished advice about how to be successful as an artist, as well as how to deal with the particular challenges women face in the art world. Although it’s directed at young women artists, it is designed to have broader relevance. The ten dicta within my mural could just as easily be applied to other professions.”

the 10 dicta

Technically Hazel is a fine artist, known for her very fine brush-work and skill in – among other areas – hard-edged painting.

Hazel: I am now working on larger-scale, text-based projects that need more than one painter. So for this project, I am mostly supervising instead of painting and have sourced a great crew”. 

Break the rules, make up your own. I think I can live by such an advice. Ha!

 Hazel at work

break the rules