Hand-painted Cambodian signs

Sam Roberts, the brains behind the excellent Ghostsigns project, to archive hand-painted advertising on buildings, has spent two years working with Voluntary Service Overseas in Cambodia.

Dog meat for sale

Source: Sam Roberts/Ghostsigns

Cars and motorbikes washed, repairs, interiors and engines cleaned

Posted with his wife to the north-east Cambodian town of Kratie, Roberts began to notice the hundreds of hand-painted signs advertising goods and services as wide-ranging as hairdressing, dog-meat and spit-roasted pigs.

If you have illegal weapons, please give them to the local authority

Source: Sam Roberts/Ghostsigns

Dog meat for sale

Roberts says hand-painted signs were common in Cambodia up to the arrival of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. The signs, and the people who painted them, were targeted by the regime as they exist at the intersection of arts and commerce – both things the Khmer Rouge sought to destroy.

If you have illegal weapons, please give them to the local authority

Source: Sam Roberts/Ghostsigns

Soiy Parth spit roast pig

There was a revival of sign-painting after the regime was toppled, but they now face another threat, from technological and economic development.

Hairdressing

Source: Sam Roberts/Ghostsigns

Hairdressing

Roberts says, ‘The loss of hand-painted signs marks a distinct period in countries’ economic development. It is the point at which access to technology and rising labour costs tip the balance in favour of mechanical or digital formats.

If you have illegal weapons, please give them to the local authority

Source: Sam Roberts/Ghostsigns

If you have illegal weapons, please give them to the local authority

‘In the UK this happened in the middle of the last century, in Cambodia it is happening now.’

Da modern barbers, haircuts, public phone service available

Source: Sam Roberts/Ghostsigns

Da modern barbers, haircuts, public phone service available

Roberts has spent his time in Kratie photographing and documenting more than 170 different signs, from the Kratie Dara Pich music group to the Da modern barbers (public phone service also available).

If you have illegal weapons, please give them to the local authority

Source: Sam Roberts/Ghostsigns

Kratie Dara Pich music group, pop music, classical music, available for hire

Roberts also tracked down some of the painter responsible for the signs, such as Kratie’s leading artist Sai Sokheang.

The result is Hand-painted Signs of Kratie, which will be available in November from kratie.ghostsigns.co.uk and www.facebook.com/HandPaintedSignsOfKratie.

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Comments
  • Sam Roberts November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Thanks for the plug and your kind words about my work on ghostsigns.

  • Lizzie November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    These are great! Really interesting to see the signs, and brilliant to capture this moment of change in Cambodia.

  • Craig Sefton November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    great!

    Now can we seek and burn each wretched acrylic printers that have filled our streets with the worst graphical filth ever seen! seriously bring back the sign writer, clean up our high streets and sell more products!

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