28 November 2015 - 14 February 2016

State Library of Queensland
Brisbane, Australia

The now universally-recognised peace symbol was designed by Gerald Holtom in 1958 for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and gained prominence as the campaign regained momentum, spurring large rallies and mass arrests. In the following decades, the symbol’s wide adoption was accompanied by the severance from its original significance and from its genesis at a time of dismay and defiance.

The design borrows from the semaphore system, used to transmit messages over distances using flag signals. Holtom abstracted the signals for the letters N and D, which stood for Nuclear Disarmament.

Signs, Signals and Semaphores revisions the symbol and beckons to its tumultuous origins by inviting members of the public in South-East Queensland to signal N(uclear) and D(isarmament).

Signs, Signals and Semaphores is a component of Peace and Quiet, a public programme commissioned by the State Library of Queensland, and led by Elizabeth Woods and Kevin Leong, which revealed the contradictory and contested nature of peace through the perspectives and gestures of South-East Queenslanders on the borders of unrest.