Early Warning Signs

Site Gallery

Site Gallery

1 Brown Street
S1 2BS

The blue on white sign was adopted by Laura Sillars, Artistic Director of Site Gallery to be displayed outside their building on Brown Street for the whole of 2012. At the end of the year, it was transported to London to take up residence outside Space Station Sixty-Five's new building in Camberwell for the whole of 2013.

End of Year Report

By Jane Faram, Gallery Co-ordinator, Site Gallery

Site Gallery, Sheffield was selected as a host venue for one of the four Early Warning Signs produced by Ellie Harrison. The sign was displayed outside of the gallery throughout 2012.


The climate change sign was located immediately outside the gallery main entrance, next to the main Site Gallery a-board which stands to inform visitors as to when the gallery is open. The street itself is frequented by heavy traffic in both directions and the sign was clearly visible to both pedestrians and motorists.


The sign was relatively easy to maintain and we had no technical difficulties with it during the year, we were able to loosen and tighten the bolt dependant on the wind speed.

Given our location opposite the Sheffield Hallam University student union, and close to the Showroom Cinema and bar, and Spearmint Rhino club, leaving the sign outside overnight could have caused damage / potential theft of the sign, so bringing it in at night has become a matter of routine. The sign has always been outside of Site Gallery during opening hours, Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 5.30pm.

Audience / Feedback:

The sign was most dynamic on windier days where we observed passers by looking at the sign with amusement as it spins and reads Climate Change.

The presence of the sign did require front of house explanation and our team were briefed on how to speak to visitors on how to speak about the sign. However, these discussions were relatively infrequent and occurred only when prompted by particularly curious visitors.

Unfortunately we did not have opportunity to host larger discussions on the subject of climate change which would have been beneficial to engagement with the sign, and more importantly the context of its production. But the smaller conversations which occurred on the project were insightful. A few conversations with visitors lead to discussions on environmental issues and the work of Ellie Harrison too, as many visitors were aware of the artists' work; data collecting, questioning artists' responsibilities.

Due to the location of the sign close to parking meters we experienced an amusing response over the course of the year. On less windy days, many passers by only observed the word "change" and hoped that we would be able to change currency for them.

The impact over the course of an extended period of time (1 year) rendered the sign an accepted, familiar object situated outside of Site Gallery. As familiar to regular visitors and passers by as any other signage linked to the gallery and local businesses. This may have rendered the sign less impactful and it seemed to be overlooked by most passers by and visitors to the gallery.

Towards the end of the year, we directly asked a few visitors if they had noticed the sign. We also asked for any comments or opinion draw from its presence outside of Site Gallery. The majority of responses were that the sign referred to an artwork, or art project - interestingly not explicitly an artwork itself. It remained within that category of advertising due to the form it takes. Perhaps this says something of the impact of digital advertising. The dilution of more traditional advertising; billboards, a-boards, banners. The novelty of a rotating sign sustains however, as an animated object, more noticeable simply for spinning independently.

Final Thoughts:

We must admit that the daily bringing in and out of the heavy sign itself will not be missed, in good and poor weather, the process wavered between novelty and annoyance. Interestingly this is harmonious with the key dilemma of the project and the issues of tackling climate change and encouraging a shift in our daily attitudes and ignorance to the real problem. How we readily produce more and more materials, and often avoiding our individual responsibilities to make small changes to solve the larger problem.