On Belfast’s culturally rich arterial routes, pivoting around an increasingly postmodern city centre, the image of place is created through a combination of buildings, signage, green and vacant spaces. Commercial signs can be the most obvious indicator of socio-economic conditions of people living in neighbourhoods in and around these arterial routes. The level and impact of economic decline, as a result of these routes sometimes being cut off from the central business district, through the creation of major carriageways and other physical barriers in the geography of the city, may be observed in the appearance of commercial signs. These signs surround us in our city streets, everywhere we look we can see their words, materials and colour on buildings, telling us where we can purchase goods or services. We are so used to seeing them we rarely give them much thought, yet what would our streets be like without them? On red brick Victorian terraces in Belfast, once homes and not businesses, the words on signs tell us what is sold, they speak when doorways and windows are mute. Signs interpret the built environment for us much in the same way as captions on pictures tell us what is happening within the photographic image. Wherever we go in the world signs on shops give us information about the sort of place we are in. Even when we cannot read the language on signs the letterforms, colour and materials can give us visual clues on our whereabouts. The condition of signs can even be an indicator of whether a place is safe or not. Businesses choose letterforms to reflect the character or goods and services sold. Solicitors offices, for example, might commonly choose an uppercase font to reflect the seriousness of the business, whereas hairdressers might commonly choose an ornate script and the colour pink to enhance the idea of femininity and beauty. Chinese restaurants regularly use red, yellow and white in their signs, colours culturally associated with luck and wealth. Whatever the business the character of letterforms and colours on signs may provide additional information on the type of goods or services it provides. Only fairly recently have researchers worldwide become interested in the value of local commercial signs as cultural artefacts unique to place. With weathered, broken or faded signs being increasingly replaced, often in the interests of urban renewal and to bolster ailing economies, its worth considering how replacing ‘old’ with ‘new’ signs might affect local character, as colours letterforms and materials used on the signs may change. 5 arterial routes & 1000 commercial signs examines buildings and commercial signs on five arterial routes of Belfast, the Antrim, Falls, Lisburn, Newtownards and Ormeau Roads, to show how commercial signs help to create the image of each of these places. A photographic archive captures the buildings and signs as a snapshot in time in a city that is constantly changing. A discussion session on 07 May with Ruth Brolly and Declan Hill from Forum for Alternative Belfast, FAB, will illuminate on the above themes and of the value of Belfast signage as a cultural artefact.
|Place of Publication||PS² Spencer House 71 Royal Avenue Belfast BT1 1FE UK|
|Media of output||Film|
|Publication status||Published - 30 Apr 2015|
|Event||5 arterial routes & 1000 commercial signs- Ruth Brolly. Part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. 30 April - 09 May 2015.: Opening: Thursday, 30 April, 6-8pm Opening hours: Wed-Fri 1-5pm, Sat 12-3pm. Talk with Ruth Brolly and Declan Hill (FAB): Thursday, 07 May, 5-6pm. Free and everyone welcome. - CS2 Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland|
Duration: 30 Apr 2015 → 9 May 2015
Bibliographical noteThis was an exhibition in PS2 Gallery Belfast. The exhibition involved static printed artefacts, long printed photo-composite images of the arterial routes of Belfast, placed on the side walls of the gallery. On the back wall a film looped to demonstrate the ethnographic walked route which the investigator undertook to examine buildings and signage on the five arterial routes investigated. As the film looped the viewer was able to immerse themselves in the built environment in a similar manner to which the investigator did when investigating the routes. As the film moved from left to right the path of investigation, as walked by the researcher was recreated. The routes were walked in 0.5mile sections, with photographs taken systematically to the left and right hand side of the routes. These images were then photo-montaged together, using Adobe Indesign and Photoshop, to visually recreate the left and right hand side of each route as it was observed in the built environment. The arterial routes investigated and recreated in 0.5 mile sections through the photographic archive were the Antrim Road, Lisburn Road, Newtownards Road, Ormeau Road and Falls Roads of Belfast, Northern Ireland. To accompany the exhibition a public talk, complete with a visual presentation was given in PS2 gallery, open to and well-attended by members of the public. The Exhibition, hosted by Belfast's PS2 Gallery took place as part of the 2015 Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. This work was as an extension of a PhD undertaken at Ulster University Belfast, the graduation for which took place in July 2015.
- Arterial Routes
- Built Environment