Walls not only do have ears, they can speak too. At least
they could. Just like the animals they lost the ability. But unlike the animals they lost it
only recently. Billboards muted their voice. Relentless decay took off immediately.
Weather-worn as they are, slowly falling into oblivion or victim to road widening,
overgrown by ivy, hidden by modern attention seekers, nice panels are only very
rarely seen. Worse still, in most countries none are painted anymore.
Most of the images are from France and Belgium where this kind of road
ornament was wide-spread. Though The Art is clearly history, our
fieldwork resulted in some recent examples: we have fresh panels from India,
Ecuador, Portugal, Madagascar, Austria, and several countries more.
Every advertisement is the work of an artist.
A lost profession never shown in a museum. Do we have a name for this occupation?
Was it an artist (or a small team) touring and painting,
or was it the local painter who got a worksheet with instructions?
I hope to find some time to explore on this subject.
Every painting tells something about past times.
It shows us how society has changed. Back then the message was there
for the ages; the cost of
the artwork could be spread over several years. Today, every modern advice
is shortly overruled by a better one; many times even before their sloppy
habit of getting loose becomes apparent.
Back then the message was short and
unambiguous. There was no need
for pun, difficult word associations or complex image editing. The latter was
easier than nowadays, because when painting you don't have to start with
existing pictures. But, it was not done. This no-frills approach brought us easy
to remember facts of life: beer = Mons, maintenance
products = Ça-va-seul, soap = Sunlight,
cognac = Martell, ask Forvil for your hair.
This way of doing is in fact also better adapted to present day fast driving.
Every display was unique and adapted to the
local situation. Dubonnet (Vin tonique au quinquina)
adjusts the size of the good news to fill the available space on the wall. Martell plays with
the brand-logo and Suze
changes type face or size to make it fit.
Some walls show almost amazement for the
wonders of modern technology.
The nylon transparent brief of Rasurel, the Rhovyl atlete and the healthy
stomach of Carvalhelhos are fine examples of a naivety now
gone or in its modern equivalent not recognised, yet.
Even our small collection makes it possible
to state some general
guidelines for people willing to apply the original techniques.
In advertising speech known as Granny's recipe
- The background colour is a matter of your own taste. You are always
on the safe side with a dark blue. If you fancy a dark red instead, go ahead.
- Make sure to brush the name of your product in oversized capitals only.
Use a sans serif type face. Apply a light colour: white is best.
- Add some short explanatory words or an advice. Stay with capitals only,
but use a smaller type size. Some discreet experimenting is permitted.
Try lowercase or italics.
- One last hint: nothing beats water resistant paint.