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Writing

Village Vandals & Urban Knights


I've always been a vandal and I've always be terrified of authority. So I figured out a way of being able to vandalise and not get arrested...



...(or at least not yet). I've been exploring the idea of 'useful vandalism' for quite a few years now and although I've done a few experimental things, nothing substantial was done until I began revamping my local street signs. Part of the reasoning for it was to practise my sign paining skills too (in January of 2022 I started venturing down to the library a few days a week to self study the art of sign painting).



The village folk were so lovely about my work and I made it into the local news. Here's an article about the work I've been doing. Below are the words I wrote for the article.



"I have a love for restoration and a desire to confront our throw away culture which is partly why I enjoy this project. Whilst at university in Cornwall studying graphic design, I coined the term ‘useful vandalism’ to suggest a way of helping the communities we live in - mostly in an attempt to demonstrate what graphic design originally was for and not what it has become. I’ve walked past the ‘Station Road’ sign for many years while growing up here and have always wanted to show it some TLC. The graphic designer in me loves any type of road sign and the sign painter in me wanted the challenge. It looked pretty sad with the paint peeling, making it almost illegible. So I stripped it down and sanded it to a smooth finish then added a few layers of primer and top coat before I started on the lettering. I had to wait for the paint to cure so it took five days in total to finish. As much as I enjoyed the painting, I really loved the conversations that it generated. The village folk would stop and talk to me and being in my line of work - a creative freelancer - communication and community like that can be very scarce, so I really appreciated everyone who commented and conversed with me. Having graduated in 2019 and being at the beginning of my career, I have found myself with long gaps, sometimes months, in-between jobs. The pandemic hasn’t helped in that respect, so this project has been very beneficial for my mental health, giving me something to work towards while I wait for future work. It has also increased my appreciation of sign writers of old, feeling humbled to learn ever more about this beautiful, increasingly rare, art form. This is a continual project of mine so I plan on doing more when the weather picks up again and with any spare time available. So if anyone has spotted any signs in need of some love, feel free to send me a message (abiibirkett@live.com) and I’ll make a note of them for future reference.


Abii Birkett"





Since Station Rd, I've also done 'The Green' on Chosen Hill. I'm working away from 'hom'e at the moment with precious little days to rest so I'm unable to plan any more as of yet. I would love to do some more before the winter kicks in though.



The different stages that the sign went though.


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