Paper City exhibition at City Gallery

  • 14 July–31 October 2011
  • City Gallery
  • Ground Floor
  • Melbourne Town Hall
  • 110 Swanston Street
  • Melbourne, Victoria
  • Australia
  • Curators: Andrew May, Christine Eid & Stephen Banham

  • Presented by City Gallery as part of the 2011 State of Design Festival.

Curators Andrew May, Christine Eid and Stephen Banham undertook extensive research as they sorted through over a century and a half of correspondence received by the City of Melbourne and variously housed in its Art and Heritage Collection, Archive and at the Public Record Office Victoria repository.

From over 10,000 letterheads, a little more than 250 were selected as showcase items, selected for their social or historical significance, striking symbolism or distinctive design features.

Letterheads are often discarded as mere ephemera. In fact they are a significant visual source material, reflecting not only the advertising and propaganda of the business or firm but also the development of identity design as well as revealing the social progress and rich stories of a developing city.

Paper City showcases a selection of letterhead correspondence sent to the Town Clerk at the City of Melbourne from the 1840s to the present day. From Ashton’s Circus, to the Melbourne Cricket Ground through to Quist’s Coffee Shop, Paper City explores the symbolic meanings behind the rich variety of letterheads.

City Gallery
To watch a film of the exhibition installation
Letterheads concept on eMelbourne

Photographer: Louis Porter


Stephens, A., ‘Letters from the citizens to their city’, The Saturday Age, 16 July 2011

Edgar. R., ‘Paper chain shows the city’s progress’, The Age, 15 July 2011

Eid, C., S. Banham & A. May, ‘Paper City’ catalogue essay, City Gallery, Melbourne, 2011