Artwork on road signs...is it by Van Go?
‘Makes me smile when I pass’
WHEN an artist began secretly altering road signs, he imagined his work would not remain on display for very long.
However, Frenchman Clet Abraham was astonished when it took 18 months for transport officials in Edinburgh to notice that he had quietly turned between 15 and 20 of their signs into unique works of art.
The artist, who has pulled similar stunts in Paris, Rome, London and Barcelona, says his work is usually noticed and removed within four months. The 52-year-old is known for adding birds, sumo wrestlers and love hearts to signs. Mr Abraham blames the ‘crazy’ number of road signs in Edinburgh for his work’s longevity in the city.
He said: ‘I think there are too many street signs in Edinburgh and so people don’t like street signs and therefore they don’t bother looking at them. It’s very crazy and bureaucratic to have that many signs.’
The city council has said the artworks can no longer legally remain as working road signs and must be removed, but added it would like to preserve them.
Mr Abraham said he has also left his mark on ten signs in Glasgow.
He says he is careful not to cover more than 10 per cent of a sign, say- ing: ‘My work is about prohibition and therefore to cover the sign too much would mean it had lost its meaning.’
Locals said they would like to see the unique signs remain in place.
Calum Alexander, 29, of Edinburgh, said: ‘I like it, it’s different. It makes it not just a boring sign. I think the council should leave them.’
Sara O’Connor, 48, said: ‘I love it, it’s fab. It will make me smile every time I pass it now.’
A spokesman for the City of Edinburgh Council said the authority has no choice but to remove the signs.
He added: ‘We like Clet Abraham’s work – it’s quirky and has clearly created a buzz around the city and on social media. However, these signs are there for a specific purpose and, having checked with the experts, they’re no longer legal.
‘We’re exploring options around how best to remove the artwork and whether it be can be preserved.’
Mr Abraham has previously bought back his creations from councils that take them down, going on to sell them for between £1,000 and £10,000.
The works are fixed onto road signs using removable vinyl stickers.
Love your work: One of the adapted signs
Street scenes: Artist Clet Abraham has added his personal touch to road signs around Edinburgh