Until the mid 1990s many corner shops, newsagents and off licences had on their shop signs, prominent branding by cigarette brands until the practice was outlawed. Twenty years later a reworked, illuminated sign is back on the high street. Unchanged in construction, fabrication and design it retains the proportions and dimensions of the original yet has been changed dramatically.
The fresh white paint is now a gloopy, gloss black, reminiscent of crude oil and tar. The bright fluorescents that shone from within the acrylic packet are now the ultraviolet tubes once seen in the discos of yore, making partygoers teeth glow an unpleasant green, now more often used to check for counterfeit bank notes.
The case itself, originally painted in the red and white, the gold or the blue of a famous cigarette brand now clear acrylic; displaying the guts of the piece. The organs of the sign out on show but rendered sickly by the black-light replacements. Is this the ghost of advertising past or, as cigarettes are removed from view and the wrappers made a uniform, muddy tone, a sign of things to come?
Photo by Luke Smith