Lots of Sign: Jamaican Dancehall Signs

Lots of Sign: Jamaican Dancehall Signs

Life is one big road, with lots of signs

One big road, with lots of signs

Signs and more signs

Tenor Saw, 1985


Lots of Sign focuses on celebrating the art of dancehall signs that are hand-painted to brick walls and signboards found across Jamaica. It comes at a time when these hand-painted signs have almost disappeared from the streets in Kingston and other larger urban areas replaced instead by printed advertisements and signs. This online gallery was curated and is presented during the COVID-19 pandemic during the UK lockdown. It takes a visual journey into some of Jamaica’s more rural parishes where the craft of hand-painting dancehall signs is still practiced. 


Tracey Thorne’s photographic work seeks to document the changing visual culture of dancehall and treats these hand-painted signs as found objects. Challenging us to think about the streets as galleries and that these unsanctioned signs reveal much about the visual culture of dancehall. The online gallery includes a collection of colour photographs taken in Jamaica in the months just before the global COVID-19 outbreak. 


The work presented in Lots of Sign forms part of a wider documentary photography project called Hand-painted Jamaica photographed by Tracey Thorne in Jamaica. The documentary photography series explores the visual culture of Jamaica expressed through graffiti, sign-painting and street art found painted on walls across the island.


The project was funded with support from Arts Council England. The series explores the work of a number of Jamaican artists their creative talent is acknowledged and makes this work possible. Without them, sign-painting in Jamaica will disappear - always hand-paint.  


A limited-edition zine accompanies the collection and is available here - Lots of Sign: Jamaican Dancehall Signs zineThe zine is printed as a, not for profit publication with a number of free copies available in England and Jamaica contact the artist for more information. 


The series is available for exhibition or publication as a photo essay and selected images from the series are available as fine art photographic prints contact the artist for details. 

© Tracey Thorne