Britons are well-accustomed to the exploits of street artist Banksy. Now another artist is contending for a place in their hearts with his playful transformations of the humble street sign in Edinburgh.
Italian artist, Clet Abraham, has creatively reimagined the street signs along South St. David Street, Thistle Street and Union Street. On one sign, the white arrow indicating a left turn is piercing a bright red heart as if fired from Cupid’s bow. In another, the white horizontal line across a no entry sign has been daubed with whiskers and ears to form the head of a curled up cat.
According to Abraham’s Twitter feed, he has hacked between 15 and 20 signs around Edinburgh. While he did not respond to media requests for confirmation that he is behind the work he did tweet an image of one of the hacked signs, which has led the public to believe he is responsible.
The locals are enamoured with the works. “I love it, it’s fab”, said one woman from East Lothian, “It will make me smile every time I pass it now“, Some have even said they want the signs to become a permanent feature. Art expert, Jan Patience, believes the council will soon replace them. “This graffiti art on the signs is subversive against authority. It’s street furniture that’s been defaced”, he explained.
Patience also believes the popularity of Abraham’s artistic intervention can be traced to the Banksy phenomenon. “There is a real interest for this kind of street art, especially after Banksy led the way”.
Born in Brittany but a resident of Florence, Abraham’s work command thousands of pounds. His creations have been spotted on the streets of Rome, London, Paris and Barcelona. Director of the Edinburgh Art Festival, Sorcha Carey, praised Abraham’s art for the humorous yet restrained way in which it has enlivened Edinburgh’s public spaces:
“The artist is very clever in what he does because the sign remains completely functional… [the art] makes us notice things that have been there all the time that we haven’t seen before and makes it visible in a whole new way. It’s a wonderful approach and way of keeping the cityscape alive“.