Graphic commons: more banner frenzy and other temporalities

After my last walk in Chelmsford, I’ve been noticing more and more temporary banners tied to railings. So today I took a short walk around my local area to capture those I had seen whilst in the car.


Unlike many that I saw in Essex, the ones I saw today were mostly ‘official’, in that what was being advertised/promoted related to the property owner of the railings they were attached to. For example, Ipswich NHS Trust banners outside the hospital and the local St Elizabeth’s Hospice railings were covered in banners for fundraising events.


Some presented Health & Safety concerns such as I first highlighted in the write-up of my Chelmsford drift: the banners were attached to railings at road crossings, meaning children or wheelchair users couldn’t see on-coming traffic, and cars could not see them. They also offered a distraction from key road signs designed to make junctions safer places.


With advertising space on billboards coming at a huge cost, and with these banners being temporary in nature, (because they tend to advertise things for specific dates), it is understandable that they have taken off as a convenient graphic vehicle to attract the attention of passers-by. However, there is still a lack of consideration the visual overload they can present when hung collectively. It appears every location is now fair game for an attention-grabbing opportunity or to make an announcement to the world.

Golf club, with added dog poo bag

As these examples demonstrate, the graphics deployed are very crude, and few take into account the amount of information displayed on a single banner—they tend to be crammed with text and images. Mostly sited by busy roads where cars vastly outnumber those walking the pavements, to read all the information on one of these while going 20–40 miles an hour would be impossible.

We are good

While on today’s walk, and contemplating the temporal nature of such banners, I found myself photographing other temporary signs posted in locations that were not designed to host such accoutrements.

Live happy
Missing and Midge’s 65th
A message to you Rudey

I’ve long been photographing missing cat posters on my daily walks to and from work and around town. They interest me because seeing such objects can cause a tug on the heart strings as you consider the emotional devastation that is wrought on those who have put up these pleas for help. Today was especially sad to see Rudey was missing after having to put down one of our cats a couple of weeks ago, and for this poster to be within a couple of yards from a poster for a missing 23 year-old man. Like many of these hastily pasted posters though, you can be left wondering whether the missing person or feline has been found; for who goes around taking down such posters once either their loved one has returned home, or they give up hope?


Today’s walk did have the potential to boost my social life though, as it appears I’ve been invited to 2 parties, although one is slightly more mysterious than the other.


One thing that I wasn’t expecting to see though was the police getting in on the act of flyposting with a poster appealing for information about a murder in Ipswich. For the entire length of this particular street, these flyers were stapled to telegraph poles and trees.


From what was a relatively short walk in my Graphic Commons explorations, I have started to formulate many questions about temporary graphics to feed into the project. Like all the other write-ups of the walks I have done, this post is meant purely as a record of the walk in the aftermath of completing it, as opposed to an outcome in its own right.

Distance walked: 2.9 miles
Steps taken: 6649
Start time: 10:30
Ground covered: Residential urban area on the periphery of Ipswich town, including a circle of Ipswich Hospital.

iPhone shuffle selection
Brian Eno – Bless This Space
African Head Charge – I Want Water
Fugazi – Promises
Winston Groovy – Please Don’t Make Me Cry
Sleaford Mods – Bambi
Flux Of Pink Indians – Is There Anybody There
Thee Oh Sees – Stinking Cloud
P J Harvey – Hook
Wire – Kidney Bingos
Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
Fugazi – Nightshop
John Lennon – I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mamma, I Don’t Wanna Die
Magazine – My Mind Aint So Open
Adam & The Ants – Antmusic (Demo version)
Róisín Murphy – Whatever
David Bowie – Boss Of Me
Field Music – The Morning Is Waiting

Published by Nigel Ball

Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design

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