Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Ghost Signs Talk with Sam Roberts

Date: 21 May 2014
Time: 1730-1930

Fading on streets across the country are the remains of advertising painted by hand directly on to brickwork. Dating from the late 1800s, right through to the 1950s, these 'ghostsigns' speak from a time when Peterkin Custard, Black Cat Cigarettes and Daren Bread were all major brands available at the local shop. There are others that are more familiar today including Hovis, Nestle and Bovril, as well as myriad for sole traders and small independent firms. Interest in this evidence of advertising past has recently been fueled by the growth in digital and social media. In 2009 the History of Advertising Trust harnessed this momentum with a national initiative to create a free, searchable online archive documenting hundreds of examples from across the UK and Ireland. This archive was developed through the use of social media with more than 150 photographers contributing material ahead of the launch in 2010. The archive was conceived and curated by Sam Roberts, author of the Ghostsigns blog and a leading figure in global efforts to document and research painted signs fading on walls. In this talk he will share insights gleaned from the body of material gathered for the archive, as well as offering a general history of this form of advertising and some of the debates that surround these ghostsigns in the contemporary urban environment.

Sam Roberts is a photographer, writer and researcher with a passion for hand-painted signs. In 2010 he launched the History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive, a national photographic record of fading advertising painted on walls a.k.a. Ghostsigns. Two years in Cambodia followed, resulting in the publication of his first book, Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie, about the county’s characteristic street signage. Sam curates the Ghostsigns blog at and has written numerous articles and book contributions on the topic of hand-painted signs. He also maintains links with universities, professional institutes and societies through guest lectures and support for students incorporating ghostsigns into their work. Sam tweets @ghostsigns.

Venue: Room 424, The Parkside Building, Birmingham City University, 5 Cardigan Street, Birmingham B4 7BD


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