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About Lots of Sign: Jamaican Dancehall signs


Lots of Sign: Jamaican Dancehall signs is a series that explores the art of dancehall signs. Dancehall sign culture is a unquie style of Jamaican street art which has been popular on the island for several decades. Some say if graffiti is the visual language of Hip-hop then dancehall's visual language is the sign.   


Hand-painted signs are painted by self-taught Jamaican sign artists to brick walls, zinc fences and signboards across the island.


The artist started recording dancehall signs as part of her series Hand-painted Jamaica around 2018, but soon realised that the practice was dying out in many areas with many promoters now using printed digital media and screen-printing signs.


Hand-painted dancehall signs tend to be found in more rural communities and parishes. Urban development has played a role in the signs demise in areas such as Kingston and Montego Bay. 


Online Exhibition and Published Work

The series Lots of Signs: Jamaican Dancehall Signs was made just before the COVID pandemic with the artist returning from Jamaica in February 2020.  As a result of the UK lockdown the work was only able to be published online.

Lots of Sign online gallery (2020) above

Limited-edition Lots of Sign: Jamaican Dancehall Signs zine is available here


The series title is inspired by the 1985 song Lots of Sign by Tenor Saw. The project received support from Arts Council England. 

Lots of Sign: Jamaican Dancehall Signs Notes: New Work

The Covid pandemic brought an historic pause to Jamaica's dancehall and outdoor music parties scene with the Jamaican Government banning such events for almost two years as part of their Covid management protocols. During this time the language of Jamaica's walls became frozen with Dancehall signs for parties in 2020 that never took place and older signs providing a window into an old world, and freedomes enjoyed before covid.


The series is ongoing and the artist has recorded the re-emergence of the Dancehall signs once the restrictions were lifted and the sound systems began to play again.

© Tracey Thorne 2023
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