Signs Express opens the book on Brum’s Floozie

Rhys Handley
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The River, a sculpture designed by Dhruva Mistry, has reclined in the fountain outside Birmingham’s historic Council House since 1994. In all that time, the affectionately named ‘Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ has had nothing to read.

On International Women’s Day this year, the city council decided to fix that so the lounging female figure could learn about the other iconic women who have defined the city over the years.

What was produced?

A giant replica of the book Once Upon A Time in Birmingham by Louise Palfreyman, in which she details the lives of 30 prominent Birmingham women past and present. The structure, which resembles an open book in view of Mistry’s statue, is a steel framework clad in aluminium outer trays. Its open face is around 3m2 in area.

What did the job entail?

The idea for the display came from Birmingham City Council with the help of communications agency Liquid, and the replica was manufactured by Signs Express Birmingham SW, with owner Joe Smith overseeing a team that assembled the bespoke steel frame and aluminium trays.

Using a 1.6m-wide HP Latex 365, the team printed onto vinyl mirror substrate to create the inner pages of the big book which were then laminated using an Easymount laminator. CAD-cut vinyl was also applied to the outer cover to replicate the book’s gold-effect text. The powder-coated aluminium trays were then further laminated for protection with matt laminate.

What challenges were overcome?

As adept sign makers, the Signs Express team were put through their paces in the assembly of the piece. It could not be installed into the fountain at Council House in full and so was created in kit form and assembled onsite, taking six hours in the pouring rain. The team had to design the legs so that the cantilevered, freestanding piece would not fall down in the Midland winds because it could not be fixed down within the fountain.

What was the feedback?

On display for the week of International Women’s Day (8 March), talks are now ongoing for the replica to go on tour around the Midlands.

Liquid account director Kate Gooderham said: “Signs Express Birmingham SW is a trusted supplier and we have worked together on several projects. Joe and the team go above and beyond to help get the job done.

“Signs Express was incredibly professional and provided valued guidance and support, enabling us to deliver the project to a tight timescale. The finished product looked fantastic and generated significant engagement and interest across the city for the cause of female empowerment.”

Do you have a Killer App? We are interested in special, difficult or simply fabulous print jobs. Contact Rhys Handley on 020 7501 6388 or


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