In a recent visit to my old stomping ground Norwich, I stumbled across some slightly odd signs dotted throughout the city. After initially thinking I was seeing things, or maybe a member of Norwich City Council was using any means necessary to talk to their ex, it turns out these signs form an art installation by Hester Stefan Chillingworth as part of Norfolk and Norwich Festival: ‘this is the sign you’ve been waiting for’.
With the crazed determination of a child with a treasure map, I searched for the rest of the signs – desperate to unearth every line of love, hope, and heartbreak that I could find.
And here they all are. Seven in total, they’re scattered around the city – behind churches, in parks, through alleyways. Hidden in plain sight, this intriguing insulation is easily overlooked. Their recognisable layout and symbols encourage you to nearly walk straight past them, maybe take a quick glance and double-take before questioning what else you might have missed.
There’s a real sense of bringing one’s innermost, heartfelt emotions into a starkly mundane public sphere. Like pages of a diary plastered on a noticeboard, they feel almost shamefully honest in a way that I truly can’t get enough of.
As is the case with the most interesting art pieces, the more you see, the more questions you have: is there a timeline to them, or a conclusion to the story? Does the order you read them affect their meaning? Is it the same speaker, an unspoken conversation between two voices? Should I call them? And so on.
None of these questions are answered, of course, but wondering is all part of the fun.