Film-maker Maxine Walters has for over 12 years secretly nurtured a passion — a fascination with explosively vibrant hand-painted dancehall signs. Technically illegal, these rough-hewn masterpieces of lettering and colour are nailed to poles and trees, usually during the middle of the night, to promote weekly bass-fuelled dancehall reggae bashments. Who knew that in-between takes, or as dusk descended upon the land, that Walters would scale trees, poles, walls and fences, crowbar in hand, to retrieve these often-overlooked cultural gems. The fascination moved to obsessive collection and now the book — Jamaican Dancehall Signs, a sample of Walters' collection with a foreword from Jesse Serwer, a journalist who has covered all things Caribbean for publications including The Washington Post, Complex Magazine, Rolling Stone, and The Village Voice.
This book launch, which took place in New York during Fashion Week at Miss Lily's Variety — the retail arm and gallery/cultural space of popular New York City Jamaican restaurant, Miss Lily's — featured an exhibition of the actual signs. There was also a live interview with Walters on RadioLily.com, Miss Lily's online radio station. Naturally Ms Walters was on hand to autograph books.
SO awaits the return of film-maker cum author Maxine Walters and a re-enactment of those crowbar moments. Until then. if you're in The Big Apple, check out the fare at Miss Lily's as well as the exhibition which remains until October 24.