Art Sign

Art Sign

“For Otiose Sailors and Girl Guides only…”
10' x 6' 8"

A joint work by Denis Masi and Ian Colverson supported by the Arts Council of Great Britain

The Poster Print Project / Billboard Art
A work to explore, illustrate and emphasise the placing of art objects in the outdoor environment; to exploit to the optimum one of the many advantages of the multi-image aspects of printing and to demonstrate the notion that other exhibition possibilities/facilities exist and can be utilised.

The Serpentine Gallery Exhibition
From 8 – 31 September 1973 a follow up exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery consisting of the following exhibition items:

  • 54  20" x 16" colour photographs of the art work/poster in situ from each of the selected site. Each photograph will be mounted and captioned with situ information, comment and recorded reaction
  • 1 copy of the lithographic print 10' x 6' 8" displayed as a banner
  • 2 copies of 2 screen prints 30" x 20" each in an edition of 75 copies. These images will be of the larger lithographic print in situ
  • Gallery visitors will be able to listen to taped interviews and to watch a 16mm film about the project
  • An account of the complete project from concept to conclusion in a printed form will be available to the gallery visitors

Press Release : May 1973
During the month of July 1973, Denis Masi and Ian Colverson will display a large Fine Art print on 54 adverstising poster sites (billboards) and on 4 bus routes (on the side of the bus in the allotted advertising space) throughout England, Scotland and Wales. There will be a follow up exhibition of this project at the Serpentine Gallery in September 1973.

The print designed jointly by the two artists will be printed in full colour lithography and will measure 6’ 8” wide x 10’ high. The Fine Art print will conform to the standard poster size used by Guinness, Heinz and all other advertisers who have become widely known through their poster campaigns. It is part of the artists’ purpose that each of their prints should coexist and compete for attention with the advertisements sharing the prominent hoarding sites that Colverson and Masi have rented in 16 major cities and towns across the country.

The ‘on site’ exhibition in July, the printing and the 1 month’s rental of the chosen sites is being financed by a grant to the artists by the Arts Council of Great Britain. The additional cost of the “follow up exhibition” in September at the Serpentine Gallery in London will be met by the gallery.

Both are artists of some repute, have a sound knowledge of printing techniques used in poster production. This linked to their interest in producing prints of much larger dimensions than the conventional 20” x 30” Fine Art print size led logically to an attempt to assign to an art print the kind of ephemeral impact projected by billboard posters.

Masi and Colverson have spurned the standard advertising language of typical slogans and imagery. With reference to their own list of billboard-advertising principles they were able to systematize these and then implement into their print certain visual precepts, which at the very least, would clearly identify their poster as NON-advertisement. Colverson and Masi are trying to appeal directly to the public by showing their work on a large scale, simultaneously all over the country thus hopefully removing barriers between their message and the general public.

Masi has said “if Unilever are pushing a message about a product what they don’t do is hire a small gallery hang their message on the inside walls sit back and hope for the best”. In the tradition of the advertising media Colverson and Masi have done some market research on the possible audience to be reached by their poster print during the month of July. London apart the 15 cities and towns have a total population of nearly 5 millions. The selected poster sites are excepted to be seen by 14% of that population during the 1 month period.

Cloverson is impressed by the arithmetic “our print will be seen by nearly 800,000 people. With the six sites in London plus display on the sides of selected double decker buses this means that more than a million will see this work. That by itself is a good reason for doing the project”

The prints will come down at the end of July. By that time Masi and Colverson will have completed a schedule of visits around the country to each of the 54 sites displaying their print. They have planned this trip for a complete documentation of the project. Film, still photography, tapes and written data will provide the basis for the ‘follow up’ exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in September; later this exhibition will travel around to galleries in some of the cities and towns where the print was first shown on the street hoardings and billboard sites.

The project in its realisation and this multi-media exhibition have 3 functions:

  • to illustrate and emphasise the placing of art objects in the outdoor environment
  • to exploit to the optimum one of the many advantages of the multi-image aspects of printing
  • to demonstrate the notion that other exhibition possibilities/facilities exist and can be utilised

Exhibition provenance

Selected cities and towns for display sites


  • Cardiff – 3 sites


  • Aberdeen – 3 sites
  • Glasgow – 3 sites


  • Birmingham – 3 sites
  • Bradford – 3 sites
  • Brighton – 3 sites
  • Bristol – 3 sites
  • Cambridge – 3 sites
  • Liverpool – 3 sites
  • Manchester – 3 sites
  • Newcastle upon Tyne – 3 sites
  • Nottingham – 3 sites
  • Oxford – 3 sites
  • Plymouth – 3 sites
  • Sheffield – 3 sites
  • London – 9 sites

The art work/poster was displayed on various bus routes