Reading List

Monday 17 October 2011

When a postcard becomes a placard

For the best part of a year, I've been involved in a project called Save Our Placards. At the second biggest demonstration ever in the UK on 26 March 2011, a group of us asked people how they wanted the Museum of London to remember the march against government spending cuts.

Photo credit: Guardian

It was an epic project. In the end, more than 400 people donated their placards, flags and costumes. Enough for an exhibition at the museum a week later.

Watching the Occupy protests this week has brought back a lot of great memories of the March For The Alternative. Of the woman who gave me her "protest umbrella" on Piccadilly, even though it was starting to rain.  Of seeing a man walk the length of Hyde Park to give us his TAX NOT AXE axe. And of nervously leaving a minibus packed full of angry cardboard joy on a London street overnight.

As if on cue Liza, a formidable campaigner from Vermont, sent me this today ... a postcard-come-placard. I love what Liza has done - twisting the standard lines on old postcards. We expect nostalgia, yet we get a protestor's sting. Very clever. Thank you Liza.

And a big hello to my placard partners in crime (Mark Teh, Hafiz Nasir, Svein Moxvold and Lolo Galindo) who are now spread across the globe. Wish you were here....?

Friday 7 October 2011


A trend for 2011 has been the re-emergence of the post-it. This week, at Apple stores across the world, it was the low-tech post-it note that people used to pay tribute to the hi-tech visionary Steve Jobs. 

Photo credit: Twitter user @lautenbach

In London over the summer, we had the Peckham Peace Wall after the riots. People expressed their frustration, shock and optimism on notes stuck to a boarded-up discount shop.

Photo credit: Flickr user Celie

In Paris, there was even La guerre des Post-Its. Office workers competed over who could make the best art from the sticky notes.

Photo credit:

What is it about the post-it note that makes it popular now? 

Low-tech. Physical. Mobile. Playful. Free from rules of grammar and etiquette. Anonymous.  I guess all of these. 

Post-Its were massively useful for me over the summer as I ordered my thoughts on old postcards for my dissertation. Not just because they were easy to move about but because they made me engage with the form - the short, written message. 

There's more in this... any thoughts?