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Riddym of Jamaica's walls explored through a series of picture stories

Riddym is a new body of work which explores the language of Jamaica's walls connected to Jamaican music and is part of a wider documentary photography project called Hand-painted Jamaica.


The new work traces the visuality of Jamaican music that has been hand-painted on walls across the island in the form of graffiti, commercial signs and street art. It includes interviews and photographs with Jamaican sign-painters and mural artists.


One of the aims of the work is to act as document to these art forms and to record the unique visuality and language of Jamaica's walls connected to Jamaican music. 

The project comes at a time when the world is facing unprecedented challenges in the face of the Coronavirus. During this time when the world is shutting down to contain the virus artists and communities are increasingly looking at digital ways to stay connected.


Art and sharing of stories can play an important role in helping us stay resilient and connected. So, in response to these changing times, I am creating this digital platform to share picture and video stories collected in Jamaica. 


A link and a brief summary of each part of the new Riddym series will be available below and this will take you to the blog hosted on Tumblr @traceythorne you can also follow on Instagram using #Riddym20 and #handpaintedjamaica

Riddym Picture Stories 


March 24, 2020

Riddym Part 1 - Shops

Riddym Part 1 is the first picture story in a new photography series which explores the language of Jamaica’s walls connected to Jamaican music. The first story plays homage to a couple of Jamaica’s last surviving record shops and a ghost sign for the sale of cassettes reminds of a bygone era when we listened to music on a cassette.


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Xculsive dancehall sign,Long Bay, Potland Jamaica. Photography Tracey Thorne

March 29, 2020

Riddym Part 4 - Xculsive

Riddym Part 4 is the first of a number of stories that capture the dying art of hand-painted dancehall signs. These signs once painted on walls and sign-boards in Kingston and across the island are disappearing  at a staggering rate.


The colourful Xclusive dancehall sign painted back in December 2019 in the rural parish of Portland exemplifies the art of hand-painted dancehall sign.

Read More

April 3 , 2020

Riddym Part 7 - Vybz Kartel

Riddym Part 7 - The new Riddym series explores Jamaica’s painted walls and the visual connection to Jamaican music. A number of murals across the island capture one of Jamaica's’ most popular and controversial dancehall artists Vybz Kartel (Adidja Palmer). 

There is a huge amount of textual graffiti on walls and surfaces all over Jamaica relating to Kartel usually using the tag GAZA or Fully Gaza. 

Read More

April 14 , 2020

Riddym Part 10 - Stone Love Inna De Country

Riddym Part 10 - Across Jamaica hand-painted dancehall signs are dying out, but in the parishes where they are still being used to advertise parties you can pretty much guarantee that you will find one for Stone Love. 


Stone Love is one of Jamaica’s most popular sound systems founded in the early 1970s. 

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May 10 , 2020

Riddym Part 13 - Sizzla

Riddym Part 13 - focuses on Jamaican recording artist Sizzla and a mural painted inside the yard of Youth Promotion Studio, Robert Crescent, in Kingston. 

Plus an example of the type of poster that Sizzla is often featured on.

Read More

June 17 , 2020

Riddym Part 16 - Shawn Storm

Riddym Part 16 - features a portrait mural for dancehall artist Shawn Storm. Typically street art and murals of reggae artist in Jamaica are painted on walls along busy streets so that the work can be seen. 

This mural is different tucked away down a back alley in Tivoli Gardens in Kingston where only the locals really see it.

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June 18 , 2020

Riddym Part 19 - Bob Marley

Riddym Part 19 -  There is probably no other image of a Jamaican more widely painted across  Jamaica than Bob Marley’s face. 


The walls of Jamaica reflect Jamaican popular culture and Bob Marley is king of those spaces.


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March 26, 2020

Riddym Part 2 - Channel 1

Riddym Part 2 takes a look at the iconic surviving ghost signs on the former Channel 1 Recording Studio which closed in the early 1990s. 

Channel 1 Recording Studio is regarded as one of the most important studios in the history of reggae music. The signs are still visable on the now adandoned building on Maxfield Ave, Kingston, Jamaica.

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Heartless dancehall sign by Bug Art, Lttle London, Jamaica. Photgraph by documentray photographer TraceyThorne

March 30, 2020

Riddym Part 5 - Heartless

Riddym Part 5 - takes a journey down to Westmoreland and features two signs painted by Bug Art for Heartless Ryderz dancehall party in Little London held on the 1st March 2020. 


The two colourful dancehall signs mark the party spot advertising the featured artists TeeJay 'Up Top Boss', Prince pin and soundsystem the Immortal Terrorist Sound. 

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April 6 , 2020

Riddym Part 8 - Koffee

Riddym Part 8 - Tucked away at the far end of Winnifred beach a colourful mural of reggae artist Koffee can be seen painted on the wooden door of the unassuming Reef King bar. 

Koffee’s huge popularity and international success led to her earlier in 2020 breaking history becoming the first women to win the best reggae album category. With a huge following back in Jamaica its no surprise that hand-painted portraits of her have started to appear on walls across the island.  

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April 14 , 2020

Riddym Part 11 - Stone Love in Kingston

Riddym Part 11 - A faded mural celebrates the mighty Stone Love Movement painted by hand on a wall in downtown Kingston.


Despite Stone Love being based in Kingston there are very few surviving hand-painted art works on the streets in the capital and advertising restrictions mean that parties are more often promoted using social media and printed materials. 

Read More

May 24 , 2020

Riddym Part 14 - Dillinger

Riddym Part 14 - a mural on an old bar at Hellshire beach linked to one of the islands reggae legends Dillinger.


The mural has a portrait of the  1930s American gangster and outlaw John Dillinger who the artist Lester Bullock took his stage name Dillinger from. 

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June 17 , 2020

Riddym Part 17 - Movardo

Riddym Part 17 - features dancehall artist Movardo shown above in a hand-painted mural on the side wall of a bar in Long Bay in Portland.


The mural was painted by Portland based sign and mural artist Katapul.

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June 18 , 2020

Riddym Part 20 - Peter Tosh

Riddym Part 20 - features the late artist Peter Tosh like Marley has become immortalized in visual imagery found across Jamaica not just in connection to his views on the legalization cannabis but also on equal rights and justice.  

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Micheal Robinson sign-painter Denham Town, in Kingston Jamaica

March 29, 2020

Riddym Part 3 - 3R40 

Riddym Part 3 is a story from 2018 which captured a new sign being crafted for 3R40 Recording Studio in Denham Town, Kingston by Michael Robinson. 

Michael is one of Jamaica's most talented mural and sign-painters who has been painting the walls of Kingston and beyond for decades. Documenting a new hand-painted sign being painted was important as so many of these signs have disappeared in Kingston.


Read More  

April 1 , 2020

Riddym Part 6 - Sound Off

Riddym Part 6 - huge colourful hand-painted dancehall sign for the annual Sound Off party presented by Q45 Sound, photographed in Little London in Westmoreland.

The sign painted back in 2018 highlights the durability of the signs that live on beyond the party providing an on going visual record of dancehall painted on the walls. 

The sign is unique also as it lists a great number of sound systems from Jamaica that were due to play at the party. 

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April 8 , 2020

Riddym Part 9 - Buju Banton

Riddym Part 9 - mural of Buju Banton painted in 2017 during his incarceration in US prison on a wall in Rockfort, Kingston, Jamaica by artist Pedro.

Photographing the same wall and revising these spaces provides opportunity to document the changing walls. In 2019 Pepsi Jamaica sought to capitalize on Buju's return and had one of their advertisements painted right up to it as part of the JamaiCan marketing campaign. 

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April 20 , 2020

Riddym Part 12 - Soca Meets Dancehall

Riddym Part 12 - Last January I got to meet Rev Tishion who is an artist that mainly paints signs in the parish of St Thomas in Jamaica

This Soca Meets Dancehall party sign from back in April 2019 is a great example of his work on signboards. The artist will usually produce a couple editions of the same sign which is then hung on lampposts, poles and fences. 

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May 28 , 2020

Riddym Part 15 - The I Threes

Riddym Part 15 - features the hand-painted mural for The I Threes painted in the community of Maryland in the hills above Kingston.


The colourful mural was painted by Michael Robinson who is a mural and sign artist based in West Kingston.

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June 17 , 2020

Riddym Part 18 - Chronic Law

Riddym Part 18 - is a little different as it explores the textual references to dancehall artist Chronic Law that appear in Jamaica on dancehall sign-boards and graffiti daubed on walls. 

Read More 

June 18 , 2020

Riddym 20 

Riddym 20 is an online photo story gallery that has brought together images that explore the visual culture of Jamaica's walls through reggae music photographed by Tracey Thorne.


The work is shared as part of the collection Hand-painted Jamaica which received a grant from Arts Council England for the project.

© Tracey Thorne