6 Oct 2012

Jamaican Dancehall Signs by Maxine Walters

Hand-painted sign advertising a Jamaican dancehall event
Maxine Walters

Gabriel Heatwave sent me a treat of a link to this article about a new book and exhibition celebrating the hand-painted signs used to advertise dancehall events in Jamaica. A copy of the book is on order and will be reviewed at a later date. (Order yours here.)

These signs are amazing and come from the collection of Maxine Walters, a film producer, who has gathered over 1,500 examples since she started in 2001. The signs themselves are posted illegally and she says she is doing something of a community service by taking them down once the events have passed.

I love the crudeness of them and they really remind me of those that will feature in my book about hand-painted signs in Kratie, Cambodia. Similarities include the way the layout lines are not removed once the lettering is complete and the slightly bodged amends that are made e.g. the date change in the one pictured above.

However, the dates also add something distinct to these signs. They are produced to be used for only a short period of time, as opposed to the relative permanence of most hand-painted signs. (The one exception from the realm of ghostsigns is the Grandma’s Boy reveal from Vancouver earlier this year which advertised a short run of a film.) In this respect these Jamaican signs are true ephemera, more akin to bill posters, and Maxine is salvaging what would otherwise be destroyed without a second thought.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the book and, for those in New York, don’t miss out on the exhibition which runs until 24th October at Miss Lily’s Variety, 130 West Houston Street. Thanks Gabriel for the tip off, a great find!

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