Flying pigs, retro hairstyles and hand grenades are set to feature in this free exhibition celebrating the art and craft of Cambodia’s hand-painted advertising. The exhibition will feature a mixture of original signage, photography and contextual materials to support the understanding of the signs and their role in Cambodian life. Curated by Hackney resident Sam Roberts, much of the material formed the basis of his book, Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie, first published in October 2012. This book introduces the signs, the people who paint them and uses them to explore Cambodia’s art, culture and history.

The quirky nature of many of these signs belies their wider story, entwined as it is with the country’s own troubled history. These signs and the people who paint them were among the victims of the Khmer Rouge era in the late 1970s. They were targets because they exist at the intersection of commerce and the arts, two spheres of activity that the Khmer Rouge sought to destroy. Their recovery since 1979 has mirrored that of the country and this exhibition documents some of the material that has emerged as a result. While the signs did experience something of a resurgence, they now face another demise, this time at the hands of technological and economic development.

Through Roberts’ work, the essence of these signs has been captured for posterity. This exhibition will take you to the streets of Cambodia to glimpse the work of some of its remaining sign painters. Sam Roberts will attend throughout to discuss his work and share his stories of capturing the signs before they are all gone.

Painted Signs in Cambodia: An Exhibition

Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th December, 10am – 5pm (free)
Private view, Friday 5th December, 6 – 9pm (free, registration required here)
A.S. Handover, 1 Farleigh Place, Farleigh Road, London N16 7SX (map)
About Sam Roberts
Sam Roberts runs Better Letters, promoting the work of contemporary lettering artists and organising workshops for those that want to learn these skills. He is a leading researcher into the history of hand-painted signs through his work on Ghostsigns, including archiving projects and popular walking tours in London’s Stoke Newington. Sam spent two years volunteering with VSO in Cambodia from 2010-2012, leading to his work documenting and researching the country’s own painted signs. He has written extensively on the topic of hand-painted signs around the world and speaks regularly to academic and professional audiences alike.

A selection of images is available and these can be downloaded in a zip file here:

Sam Roberts,, +44 7989 409 046


Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie:
Better Letters: