In this session, Deborah spoke to Amanda Lynch and Daniel Arteaga, as part of collaborating with the Correspondence Collective and upcoming Restriction Exhibition, which explores the theme of restricted artwork as we approach the anniversary of the first Covid-19 Lock Down. Exploring how we have all been confined and compact and how we can represent this as artwork with the physical and digital aspects.
Amanda Lynch, from Correspondence Collective discussed all things art, collective and our current open call, with Clayhill Arts on their recent podcast.
The podcast goes into detail as to why and how the Correspondence Collective came to be as well as speaking on disability, personal art practice and how Covid-19 has impacted the way of working.
Check the link below to listen:
During the first lockdown of March 2020 a postcard exchange took place between myself and a friend (Megan Wakelam), the exchange started as a means to stay in touch as well as being excited by receiving something in the post. Over the course of a few months this grew in scale and I started to introduce other creatives to get involved to stay making during the time of lockdown.
I have become interested in mail art and the prospect of sending and receiving art in post was exciting, adding to collages, postcards and even small assemblages had started to become a new way of working in an unsettling time. As lockdown had restricted many artists unable to exhibit their work, mail art was a great way to get artwork seen by others and even open up the opportunity for collaboration. This sparked the idea for an online exhibition with a theme of Restriction, yet removing as many ‘restriction’s’ as possible in an online context.
Working with Clayhill Arts (Somerset) the opportunity came to use an old letterpress drawer unit, comprised of miniature compartments in various sizes. Examining these drawer spaces felt a great way to showcase work for the Restriction exhibition, using these spaces to highlight our physical restrictions we have all faced within the Covid-19 pandemic.
I have become aware of how many restrictions artists face when trying to exhibit work, especially those with a disability. The exhibition has a strong focus on showcasing work from emerging and d/deaf and disabled artists, we hope to make the application process as easy and accessible as possible, with BSL, easy read and audio description available. The exhibition itself has no restriction on medium used to produce work, the only ‘restriction’ is the allocated compartment sizes for each artist. On application artists are invited to purpose an idea with what mediums they will be making work in, from 2d, 3d, poetry to video and sound work. Selected artists are then allocated 4 different compartment sizes, this can be adjacent to one another or spread out. Once completed, the work is then posted to Clayhill Arts bring back in the physicality of art works to be exhibited within the letterpress drawers. I felt it important to have the work physically go somewhere, be held and interacted with, something we can not do ourselves at the moment. For me this would bring artists together from the UK and internationally forming the Correspondence Collective, a community of artists.
The exhibition will be held online opening with a live stream of the artworks on the 23rd March 2021, videos, workshops and artists talks over the two-week period the exhibition is live. After this time the Correspondence Collective will continue to grow as a community of artists and holding regular artist talks and workshops, artists of the month feature as well as keeping artists and creatives making during these strange times, we are currently in.
It is FREE to apply to the open call and all applications can be made online via the website.
Submit your idea
Exhibition opens – livestream
23 March – 6 April
Chuck Welch AKA Cracker Jack kid, said 'Mail art is whatever you want it to be... the work isn't fine art the person is fine'. I was first introduced to mail art nearly one year ago by a good friend. During the first lock down of 2020 I was struggling to make art, to make anything and just to generally keep going.
During the start of the UK lock down I joined IUOMA (International Union Of Mail Art) and Pandora's box was opened, I discovered artists from all over the world who are making art and shipping it via the postal system to other mail artists. Some of these works are add and pass, this can be anything from an artist book to a blank piece of paper, artists are asked to add a piece to the work sent out and then send this onto another person or person's. Mail art is open and encourages all art forms, something I absolutely love about mail art. There is no judging or fees to take part in mail art. I started to send out postcards to people I didn't know, this was extremely nerve racking to start with, lots of questions such as should I send this, what will this person think, will I hear back were all things that rushed through my mind as I was standing in front of a post box. But taking the leap of faith I sent out the mail. To my surprise I have received mail from all over the world near and far and the artwork is so different from each person, this enabled me to respond to these works and no have to worry about sticking to a theme of work, material or thought.
Mail art has been influenced by the DaDa movement and Fluxus movement from the 1960s. Ray Johnson influenced this hugely by sending postcards to friends and sharing his work with others via the postal system. Artworks included instructions on how to draw images, and mass produced posters a way of expressing artwork on a mass level, in a way becoming his own factory.
So what is mail art, mail art can be anything that can be sent in the post, large or small, handmade or found object mail art is anything you want it to be. Over the last year I have found mail art to be freeing and has opened up connections with others I wouldn't of have been able to make in person. This is strange since we have spent a large amount of time in doors and yet I have built a network of people to send mail to in a time that I am physically restricted in doors my art work has no bounds. I would encourage anyone to send someone a piece of art in the post, a postcard falling into someones letter box during these strange times has an immense power. Whenever I receive some mail art in the post it starts my day with a smile, a fresh new starting point to make art, no restrictions, I feel free.
Stu Copans (aka Shmuel) and Chuck Welch (CrackerJack Kid) discuss "What is Mail Art?" in connection with the exhibit "Postcards to Brattleboro: 40 Years of Mail Art," which was on view March 14 - October 12, 2020. Video credit: Vermont Films www.brattleboromuseum.org
In the wake of 2021 I have been lucky enough to start the first few days of the new year with a brand new collaboration, with Gordon Coldwell. Gordon is an artist who has worked with mastering digital images over the years and makes strong political work commenting on our societies current issues. Myself and Gordon met via mail art and have decided to challenge the notion of mail art with a digital alternative, this experiment is mainly because Gordon lives remotely and can not easily get to a post office to send artworks.
Working in a digital format is completely new for me working within the realms of Photoshop and image editing is something I am not confident with at all. But this experiment will build new skills within these areas. Making mail art that only lives on email attachments and a collection of pixels opens up conversation for digital art. Working in this way opens up a faster exchange of images and texts between us. We are two days in and also two exchanges in, the making process maybe a lot faster than waiting for something to arrive via the postal system.
Gordon and myself have similar interests but very different ways of making working.By working with Gordon I am excited to see how this work develops and changes over the coming weeks. For me it will be a fascinating issue of when to say that's it I am finished. Working in a collaborative sense may mean one thing to one and one thing to the other person. While speaking with Gordon we questioned if exchanging art has become individualized. Artists are precious about the work they make and especially today when less physical work is readily available. Sending someone a piece of work you have given time to on being trusted to someone else. From my experience some works haven't allowed for any addition but needed a response to them. Is this because we are living a more ego leas individualized way? This is something myself and Gordon are trying to question and explore with our digital exchange.
Having found my feet with mail art and exchanging mail via the postal system, this has been a way to keep making art during the testing times of Covid-19 pandemic. Mail art has been a great way to make art with people who are very different to myself, including add and pass works as well as responding to individual pieces.
Over the coming weeks I will keep a log of the additions to the digital artwork. Once an end has been reached I will share the final results.
As a new year dawns I am reflecting my most recent project, Sounds from home working with Ceda. The project has taught me new skills I wouldn't of done without a push such as working with sound, learning to use sound equipment as well as using editing software, all of these things I feel I was quite frightened of doing before as I hadn't worked within this medium but I am so glad I did use these ways of working.
Working on the Sounds from home project allowed me to connect with people during these strange Covid-19 times, this enabled me to see how people were coping in their own environments. Bringing in sound and collage opened my eyes to how much we take for granted, I was so used to going out and not really paying much attention to my surroundings, to being forced to stay inside with a very limited out look. My surroundings where 4 walls and a galley garden, with a wall so high I can't see over the top. Focusing on what I could hear and turning these into images was a fascinating feet. Seeing other people's work and their interpretations was really interesting, everyone's work was so different was the next it was very uplifting.
Sounds from home taught me to have the confidence to try new things and keep building on learning new skills. Keep working with people and finding my way within the artistic community. This has been a great project and something that I will forever remember making art during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The #soundsfromhome project has now come to an end but I have made a ebook of all the great works that have been submitted. Check out the link below to view for FREE!
I have just come across an official website dedicated to second hand cigarette machines that are now transformed into art vending machines. I have seen previously food vending machines but nothing that has guidelines and an artist payable fee.
Over the past few days I have been thinking about how to form visual ideas that are gripping, and how this can translate into a visual image. I am very much inspired by influences, tv shows for instance but an idea may come with an image that has text attached to it. As text appears in my work very often but I am interested in the mix of trying to convey a visual language that we can actually read. So For instance I am working on a piece that is called- Can I read. which is a physical object representation of a cola can- and eye ball- and a reed plant. I am aware that reed and read are different but I feel that is my point with this mini project. I have been thinking lately alot of communication and what that means.
Can eye reed