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Photographer snaps social distancing floor signs to document a “significant period of history”

Monitoring Desk

Matthew Chattle has snapped more than 270 social distancing floor signs in London to help document a “significant period of history”.

A purple social distancing sign on the ground
MATTHEW CHATTLE High Road, Wood Green

The editorial and news photographer began to take pictures of the signs – usually painted or stuck on pavements, shop floors, and cobble stones around the capital – with his iPhone camera, usually while travelling between work assignments.

The signs remind people to maintain social distance and instruct them how to queue safely to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

A stencil outline on the ground asking people to maintain social distancing
MATTHEW CHATTLE Wardour Street, Soho
A sign on the ground instructing people to wait
MATTHEW CHATTLE Upper Street, Islington
A stencil outline on the ground instructing social distancing
MATTHEW CHATTLE Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn

“The first few pictures were almost taken for fun, but this very quickly became a project I knew I had to pursue more seriously,” Matthew explains.

“We are living through a significant period of history and these signs and symbols represent one aspect of it: keep your distance. These signs are as much a part of this period as are pictures of hospitals or rainbows in windows.”

A sign on the ground that asks people to observe social distancing
MATTHEW CHATTLE Covent Garden Piazza
A stencil outline of a walking figure with an arrow
MATTHEW CHATTLE Richmond Bridge, Richmond upon Thames
A pink sign on the ground that says 'No Entry'
MATTHEW CHATTLE Carnaby Street

The photos have been submitted to the Mass Observation Archive – which collects material on everyday life in Britain – for posterity.

“Like all times of crisis, this period should be documented,” he says. “Most people want this time period to go away and to forget about it. [But] what might seem unimportant now could be seen differently in the future.

A yellow and black sign on the ground that askes people to stand on it whilst queuing
MATTHEW CHATTLE Long Acre, Covent Garden
A stencil outline instructing people to maintain a two-metre distance
MATTHEW CHATTLE Soho Square
A sign on the ground declaring 'Pints To Go'
MATTHEW CHATTLE Cambridge Circus

“Local councils have their own sign designs, as do individual shops and businesses.

“These signs are pieces of information graphics that are essentially functional and ephemeral.

A red and black sign on the ground that asks people to observe social distancing
MATTHEW CHATTLE Oxford Street
A sign on the ground pointing the way for people to queue
MATTHEW CHATTLE Mount Street, Mayfair
A yellow and blue sign with an arrow
MATTHEW CHATTLE Piccadilly Circus

“I’ve been asked what I’m doing, sometimes by shopkeepers and some members of the public.

“They are usually bemused at seeing me photographing my shoes. When I explain what I’m doing people usually understand and can see that the time we are living through is temporary, like the signs themselves. Maybe I should have worn my best shoes.

Two blue signs on the ground that ask people to maintain a two-metre distance
MATTHEW CHATTLE Piccadilly Circus station
A damaged sign on the floor giving social distancing instructions
MATTHEW CHATTLE Tottenham Court Road
A damaged sign on the ground that instructs people on a one-way system
MATTHEW CHATTLE Piccadilly Circus station

“I am finding signs that are wearing away or have been removed, leaving a ghost outline.

“Once the pandemic is over they will disappear,” he added, “hopefully forever.”

The faded outline of a sign on the ground that has worn away
MATTHEW CHATTLE- Charing Cross

All pictures are subject to copyright.

Courtesy: BBC

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