What are Neighbourhood Watch signs supposed to do? The ubiquitous big-brother eyes are meant to warn bad guys that this is a place where we watch out for one another, we take care of our own and will foil any wrong-doing by our amateur sleuthing and curtain-twitching.
There is a small town homespun cosiness to the watch program and that’s why an installation project in central west Toronto has hit such a pitch-perfect note. As many as seventy Neighbourhood Watch signs have had their red and black stylized watchful eye images carefully overlaid with an image of either a super-hero or pop culture character. The original message “this neighbourhood protected by” image “neighbourhood watch”is still intact but updated to be noticeable and relevant. The original signs are so commonplace they have become background noise and cease to function as they were originally intended so these additions refresh the message in an entertaining way.
Artist Andrew Lamb has carefully altered the signs with a colour image that he glues onto the signs in broad daylight. Is it vandalism? Well yes, in the strictest sense of the word but the mixture of childhood whimsy, nostalgia and wit on display is delightful.
The Hulk, Wonder Woman, Mr Rogers, Nancy Drew, Spider-Man or in this case (pictured above) the Goonies… who wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing they were all on-guard outside your door?