Project Description

Commemoration of John Walker, the inventor of the friction match

Historic England Competition: “Immortalised: A Design Exhibition”

Artists: Stamatis Zografos, Uli Gamper, Eva Bachmann

Performer: Barbara Gamper (

Photography: Historic England


Date: 03 Sep 2018 – 17 Sep 2018

This project celebrates John Walker, the inventor of the friction match.

Previous attempts to commemorate him have failed largely because there is no confirmed image of him thus making his identity ambiguous. We therefore put forward a bipartite way of commemoration that is ephemeral, participatory and performative. On one hand a matchbox installation depicting a figure reminiscent of the inventor is de-assembled slowly by visitors as they take away matchboxes. On the other hand, a performance takes place in a real urban setting with matchboxes being distributed randomly through an abstract re-appropriation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl.