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Meaning on a lamp-post

By Paul Slade
Secret London
Murder Ballads

I'm always fascinated by the street art I find when I'm out walking around London. I'm thinking here not just of graffiti - though there's certainly plenty of that - but also the home-made notices people display in their windows and the protest stickers attached to every available surface along the pavement.
Lamp-posts and the poles supporting traffic signs carry the bulk of these stickers, I think because they offer a smooth surface at eye level where the sticker will adhere well and remain in place for months to come. Once you start noticing them, they become like a muttered conversation you can overhear the city having with itself, always there as a background hum but only occasionally grabbing your full attention. Once in a while, this conversation flares into an angry argument as someone frantically scratches out a sticker they disagree with or covers it up with an opposing one of their own.
In the 21 months since the UK's first Covid lockdown began, I've taken to snapping a photo of any street sticker I particularly like, some simply for their striking design, others for the power of their message or the cheeky wit they bring to getting it across. The selection below, like my earlier collections of Black Lives Matter and pandemic street art, were mostly gathered in the London boroughs of Islington and Hackney in either 2020 or 2021 - though some of the stickers themselves are clearly much older.
The selection below shouldn't be taken as my personal endorsement of any particular sticker's message. I've avoided using any sticker which I think is downright dangerous, but otherwise my purpose is simply to document the ones I've found most eye-catching on my daily walks. Your own neighbourhood may well be packed with equally creative examples, so why not take a second to ponder them as you pass by?


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