Post and Postcards

In this post I will be further examining my practise by looking at my fascination with post and postcards. In previous posts I have looked at other tools I use in my work such as Labels and Instagram 

I have always loved getting post! I sign up for as many catalogues as I can to feed my obsession. I wrote to the Queen when I was 11 and was overwhelmed by the beautiful gold stationery that housed the response. Furthermore, every Christmas I receive a parcel that excites me more than any other. It is from a friend in Japan. It amazes me how different the stationary is, the parcel is packaged, and the postal service labels are. Recently, I have been sorting through my massive postcard collection and have found that 148 x 105 mm or 5.8 x 4.1 inches (the standard size of a postcard) is perfect for so many things. Below, I will show some examples of postcards from my collection and postal experiments I have been trying.

NO.1

I was introduced to the book “The Englishman Who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects” and the work of W. Reginald Bray during my foundation course. I read and began trying out some of his experiments for myself as a personal project.

W. Reginald Bray

“In 1898, Bray purchased a copy of the Post Office Guide, and began to study the regulations published quarterly by the British postal authorities. He discovered that the smallest item one could post was a bee, and the largest, an elephant. Intrigued, he decided to experiment with sending ordinary and strange objects through the post unwrapped, including a turnip, abowler hat, a bicycle pump, shirt cuffs, seaweed, a clothes brush, even a rabbit’s skull. He eventually posted his Irish terrier and himself (not together), earning him the name “The Human Letter.” He also mailed cards to challenging addressessome in the form of picture puzzles, others sent to ambiguous recipients at hard to reach destinationsall in the name of testing the deductive powers of the beleaguered postman.”

Examples of some of my successfully posted and yet unposted work can be found below.

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I think I will continue to enjoy taking inspiration from Bray’s work. A few weeks ago, I discovered an artist who has a similar passion for testing the postal service. Examples of Harriet Russell’s work can be found below along with a surprisingly  successful piece I created in Russell’s style and sent to Beckie. I am already planning my next challenge.

 

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NO.2 

Postcards are the best form of affordable art! When I visit an exhibition that I especially love it is great to buy a postcard as a memento. I am slowly building up an ‘inspiration hoard’ to bring to university with me. This will mostly be made up of postcards from my favourite exhibitions. Below is an example of a book of postcards I bought at a recent Rembrandt exhibition and a postcard Beckie sent me when she went to the RA Summer Exhibition. I will send Beckie and other artist friends postcards I think will inspire them from exhibitions I see this year. It’s a fun way to keep in touch!

 

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No.3

Over the years my family and I have been sent many postcards from friends and family who are on their holidays. Memorably from a 97 year old friend who recently made me very jealous with a postcard from the Northern Lights! We also continue to send holiday postcards ourselves. Some people wonder what the point is when we can easily send photos over the internet and often arrive home before the postcards. In one particularly memorable case my Aunty Gwyn received a postcard from a trip we went on to Rome a year after we posted it because of the notoriously slow Italian postal service. For reasons of nostalgia and the opportunity to have a handwritten note to show you are remembered by a loved one is reason enough to not let the holiday postcard die out. There are also some fun varieties to try out! When I was in Hungary this summer to test some fun variations I sent Beckie and my family a variety of different postcards:

the giant postcard (An A4 image that baffled the Hungarian postal workers and also doubled as a lovely souvenir as it can be easily displayed.)

the digital postcard ( A postcard created with the app Postsnap that allows you to use your own photos (as a photographer I love this!). It is then printed and sent. A lovely idea to make the postcard even more personal.)

the postcard coaster (Another souvenir/postcard. A beautiful illustrated coaster that can be addressed on the back.) Images below.

No.4

I love freebies! Some of my favourite postcards are those I have got for free. Examples are below.

No. 5

Probably inspired by the above, I created a range of postcards recently for some Christmas events my church was hosting. They are the perfect size for an eye-catching advert! The front and backs of three of these postcards are shown below.

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No.6

And finally, I would like to take the chance to reflect on mine and Beckie’s postal adventure! I have had such a lot of fun creating and receiving postcards. It has challenged me to be creative in so many ways. Our project was inspired by the work of artists Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec but has become so much more than just a ‘dear data’ experiment. Beckie’s infographic postcards (which can be found on this blog) have taught me so much about her. I am going to use them as inspiration for my infographic work. I hope we can continue to send each other postcards and stay in touch as we start our degrees. Below are some of the postcards and letters I sent to Beckie.

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Postcard nine – 2nd September 2017

This postcard was based on Schedules. The inspiration for this came from how structured our Fiddlesticks (orchestra) residential course is. Throughout the four days, I noted down the time we would begin each new activity. 

I was struggling with ideas of how to display this particular postcard. Codes, was what came to mind.

As you can see in the image above, I gave each activity a visual symbol or pattern. After doing two days, I was began to see this was quite a complicated and confusing system. However, after testing other styles I continued this as it was still the best idea.

Dear Rachel ~ love Beckie

Postcard VIII – 20th August 2017

Postcard eight was sent from Greenman Festival. The nearest village to Greenman, is Crickhowell. I went to Crickhowell a few months ago when they had an art festival. I found two local artists Robert Macdonald and Dorian Spencer-Davies. 

Robert Macdonald is a painter and print maker. He often uses bright colours and vivid movements to depict Welsh Landscapes. However, he does not primarily see himself as a landscape artist. He enjoys creating works that contain inner imagination and mythology or legends. 

Dorian Spencer-Davies again uses bright colour but in a very different way. He uses it to compliment his style in which he stretches reality causing a dreamlike state. 

I was impressed with the artwork of the Greenman merchandise this year, with the bands and T-shirts.

They have almost created their own greenman style and language. Through the festival there are symbols to replicate various marks like waterpoints or different stages. Moreover, there is a giant naturally made Greenman creature, this gets remade every year and each is more impressive than the last. Quite an inspiring and artistic festival. 

Dear Rachel ~ love Beckie x

Postcard VII – 13th August 2017

Today’s postcard was a simple one. This was sent from London, I was shocked by the lack of variety of postcards from the exhibition in Royal Academy. However, thought Rachel would like this one.

This is a piece by Francisco Vidal titled Free No. 6. 

The exhibition itself was different from many other exhibitions I’ve been to. The layout seemed overwhelming almost as it featured over a thousand works in an average sized space. This meant that there was no negative space surrounding the works. I enjoy space surrounding as it lends itself to focussing on each work rather than skipping some due to feeling too busy and rushed. That being said, I felt due to the large variety of works there was always something for everyone, since my dad, mum and me all have different opinions of artwork. 

Dear Rachel ~ love Beckie x

Postcard VI – 5th August 2017

The past two weeks, I have been continuing my part time job whilst doing a two week summer playscheme for kids. I have done this every year for four years and used to do this as child. This hasn’t given me much free time therefore I decided to monitor how often I got painted as it is very common to get paint three or four times through the ten days. 

This year I got pained five out of ten days. 

  • 24th July – Grey and white, over the face.
  • 27th July – Blue, pink and purple paint brush lines, across the face and neck.
  • 31st July – Dark blue, whole body (hair to toes, including clothes).
  • 1st August – Clown facepaint. 
  • 4th August – Spiderman facepaint.

I wanted to replicate the style and colours in which I had been painted onto this postcard. Using facepaint, I sponged some of the basic colours down like gray/white, dark blue and red. As I didn’t want to paint a clown, I sponged the colours used all close together. I then used a paint brush to do spider like web’s on top of the red and I created lines similarly to how it appeared on my face.

I really enjoyed playscheme however exhausting it can make me. I hope this postcard shows how fun and playful it can be. 

Postcard V – 23rd July 2017

This week I monitored my phone usage. For five days I recorded how many times I used my phone. In order to keep track I noted these using gates on my arm.

Moreover I wanted to monitor what I was using my phone for. The categories were as follows:

  • Checking the time
  • Replying to messages
  • Social media
  • No real reason
  • Phone calls
  • Work-related
  • Camera

After half a day, I realised how difficult it was to keep track of how often I checked the time as it was so frequent. I decided to remove this category and only recorded when I unlocked my phone using its password. 

I did test pieces using different ways I could display this; I began with a ring idea.

After seven circles, I realised this was not going to work as there would be five days with on average 40 checks. I then tried a bar graph style.

This would have worked very well if I had also monitored in which order I used the sections; for example messages, camera call, messages, call, work etc. 

This was the finished postcard. This was the most effective and efficient way of reflecting my data. I was disappointed with how often I go to use my phone and how much of an necessity it is to my life.

To Rachel ~ love Beckie 

Postcard IV – 7th July 2017

The purpose of my fourth postcard was inspired by Radio One’s competition week. Whatever the prize or competition it was always involving ‘words’ usually where you were to listen out for a particular word. I decided to use my conversations via Facebook, text, WhatsApp etc. to see how often I spoke about myself, the other person and referenced time.

Time = 56 times

Myself = 61 times

The other person = 83 times

It concerns me how often time was discussed within seven days. After researching, I discovered that the word ‘time’ appeared in the top 50 most commonly used words in the English language. This encouraged me to monitor how often I used it. Although I had to widened this so it became references to time eg. days, months, years and numbers rather than the word time.

To layout this information, I consisted using coloured lines. 

Each continuous coloured line being the length of the result. This however didn’t fully replicate the purpose of the postcard or the data collected. Instead I drew from a theme I was exploring as part if my final major project within foundation which involved shape outlines. Moreover, after testing this with felt tips I decided to use embroidery silks sewing the shapes in. I used a different technique for each colour to further emphasise the different sections. 

The green (representing time) is a basic running stitch. 

The yellow (representing myself) is a back stitch.

The orange/brown (representing the other person) is a laced running stitch.

Each of these were basic stitches, I felt this as best as the paper was thick and became extremely difficult to see into. 

Dear Rachel ~ love Beckie

Post card III – 30th June 2017

This postcard was formed using data collected over two weeks tracking my daily emotions. 

To visually represent this, I groupes sets of similar emotions and used a colour to symbolise them. As for the layout I used a “follow the line” theme. Each person will run through a series of different emotions, I have only chosen the dominant emptiness of the day. I questioned the reliability of this as I was only logging at the end of the day. If an emotion was overwhelmingly strong in the last hour of the day this may jolt my judgement of the day. 

I experimented with a variety of ways in which I could layout my findings. The first idea was to have two “meeting” or “middle points”, this became to busy and blurred.

I then tried splitting the two weeks roughly into three, this again looked messy. I realised the issue came from the mixing of colours. This triggered using three meeting points the first being only yellow, the second green and blue, and the third red and purple.

I have been exploring fears and terrors through a Sketchbook this summer, particularly my own personal fears. This postcard has made me feel much more secure and pleased with myself. The majority of these two weeks were yellow which are all positive emotions. 

Dear Rachel ~ love Beckie

Collaboration 

On the 15th July there will be an Open Studios event at Elysium Studios to coincide with the Troublemakers High St Festival that weekend. 

Tegan, Beckie and I have been invited to join Ben (winner of the studio residency) to produce work for his space. We will be displaying our own work as well as certain collaborative projects we have devised. 

We have set ourselves the following collaborative tasks: 

Inspired by a mini project we were given when we travelled to Amsterdam with our foundation course, we will all be taking a photo on disposable/film cameras every day at 3pm. We will then write/draw/document something on a post it note to accompany each image. This will be a fun way to see what we are all up to from now until the exhibition. 

We will be using the final few shots on our cameras to take 4 images that represent the following 4 concepts: 

Line 

Mundane 

Label 

Loss 

We will also be undertaking a challenge on one day to write a list of everything we touch. This will become a study of the objects we come into contact with. The 4 most interesting things will be photographed on our cameras. 

Below is an image of the space where we will be exhibiting. We hope you can all join us ! 

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Postcard II – 16th June 2017

I had spent the day in mumbles and decided to pop into the Welsh tourist shop. After spending a while I decided that this was the doll post card looked the most cute and least scary. Unfortunately when I came to write the postcard, it had been completely crumpled within my bag. Instead of wasting a lovely card, I decided to follow the folds with rips and tairs. Disregarding some pieces, I stuck the remaining onto a card which was covered in brown tape which avoided the clean and harsh white against the original postcard.

I felt this now replicated a broken or smashed doll. This has made me intrigued by the concept of fear involving dolls, often they are portrayed as being supernatural within movies like chucky. 

As I have recently decided that my theme for my personal summer project will be terror and fears, this could be something interesting that I choose to explore. 

Dear Rachel ~ love Beckie

My first postcard! 5th June 2017

This postcard marks the beginning of my collaboration with Rachel. I wrote this the day after I worked as a poll clerk on the general elections in June. Throughout the day I continuously collected data involving three different elements that occurred.

The first piece of information was how often I was delayed whilst eating my meals and snacks. Due to the job, there is a continuous flow of voters which rarely stops for two minutes. Using coloured pencils I was able to visually represent this data as a cover to this postcard. I considered using a set of five flowers, each flower being the meal or snack and each petal being a disruption, however after a few attempts I decided against this. Instead I used a series of flowing lines and circles. 

Each colour is a meal or snack. They were chosen to match a dominant colour within that food. 

Brown = breakfast (5)

Red = dinner (16)

Green = Apple (8)

Yellow = tea (8)

Pink = crisps (9)

The second piece of data was how I marked each x number people entering the station. In keeping with the postcard theme, I folded a post card sized paper to represent each x amount of voters. 

For example the first x was a basic fold in half width ways. 

The final data collected was the number of dogs brought into the polling station. In total there were 32 dogs that entered. Each was a different breed bar two which were Labradors. 

Dear Rachel ~ love Beckie

Our Project

Inspired by artists Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, Rachel and I will be communicating through postcards as well as relevant objects or inventive ways in which we can share. These will be a mixture of recording ourselves, as well as the space and culture around us.

“Dear Data” (http://www.dear-data.com/) is a year long project in which Lupi and Posavec collected weekly data and represented this in a hand-drawn post-card. As the post-cards would travel between America and Britain, they described this process as being: “a type of ‘slow data’ transmission”. They learned from collecting weekly data to live in the present, to be more aware of their surroundings and their behaviours.

Unlike ‘Dear Data’ Rachel and I will be choosing our own topics to write and document instead of having a weekly subject. This will cause us both to learn more about each other however personal or distant.

As Rachel will be travelling throughout the Summer, her postcards will be focusing on the settings surrounding the different places and people. However, this Summer I will be at home working and spending time with family and friends which may result in some local day trips. Due to this, I would like to look at myself personally and look at my every day lifestyle. By recording mundane tasks I will hopefully learn traits and quirks about myself. These can then be depicted in a variety of visual formats, I would like to include my passion for both tonal drawing and sewing if possible throughout this project.

The attached photo are some examples of Lupi and Posavec’s postcards from their Dear Data project. Both would present the hand drawn representation of their collected data on one side, with an explanation and a key to understanding the diagram on the other. 

And so it begins!

 

Hello!

I am Rachel, one of the recipients of the Jane Phillips Digital Residency. This summer I will be working on a number of art and design projects and sharing them here. As well as working individually, I will be working in collaboration with Beckie Mitchell. To begin I am sharing my application with you. This outlines some of the projects I intent to work on. I sent my application in the form of a giant postcard. The above image was on the front. This is a photocopy of some of the tools Beckie and I like to use in our work. On the reverse was the written explanation. This can be read below:

 

Beckie and I were both intending to apply for this award. In order to utilise the space to its full potential, we are proposing that we work both individually and collaboratively.

I am a designer and maker who works in a range of mediums such as textiles and photography. I have a graphic approach to my work but do not want to be defined as just a graphic designer. Much of my work is about combining images, text and various materials for interesting effect.

I would like to use this opportunity for the following:

My work is often in response to the social and political landscape. I would love to use this opportunity to contact local charities and organisations to see if I can perhaps create an infographic or a piece of social design.

I would love to develop my own personal practise as an art and design professional.  I would like to refine my personal  blog and develop an instagram account to present my work digitally.

Next year, I will begin studying a BA in Design at Goldsmiths, University of London. I want to make a good start on the reading list and work with new materials such as wood and metal. Also, practice skills such as book binding. 

Moreover, as my collection of art materials and odd bits and bobs has been depleted over this year, I would like to start an inspiration hoard that I can take to university with me. I will be collecting magazines, leaflets, textiles, photographs, buttons, packaging and various other ephemera.

I have always loved post. I recently started recreating some of the challenges found in the book “The Englishman who Posted himself and Other Curious Objects”. This is an ongoing project and I would love to create more postal work and display it all.

For a while I have wanted to start a fashion infographic magazine. This opportunity would give me the time and space to launch and complete this project.

Beckie and I are both moving away from Swansea to study our degrees. We would love a community based outcome to be our legacy. Our individual practises have both similarities and differences. We found while working on a International Women’s Day project that we work well together and have a passion for our community.

Inspired by the designers Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec who constructed a way of conversing visually in the “Dear Data” project (http://www.dear-data.com), we intend to devise a similar method to share and communicate our ideas. This will include sending and leaving postcards, drawings, objects and any other relevant paraphernalia in the space.

We would love to meet artists and use the expertise of other creatives to help us as we start our creative journey and our projects.  

 

 

 

 

Residencies & Opportunities for Swansea College of Art Students

Mission Gallery is pleased to announce the 2017 recipients of the Jane Phillips Award Residencies for Art & Design Students at Swansea College of Art, UWTSD. We are proud to be working with our partners at Swansea College of Art, UWTSD and keen to shine a light on the high standard of work being produced by students across all disciplines and courses.

Art & Design Foundation Residencies Summer 2017.

The proposals submitted by Foundation students were of a typically high standard and three residencies have been awarded throughout Summer 2017. It was open to everyone studying on the Foundation Course at Swansea College of Art. This is the only Award & Residency that we are aware of, which offers a bridge and continuity between Foundation/Degree courses and we look forward to continuing with the residency into the future. The 2017 Recipients are;

Studio Residency: Ben Dawson
Based at Elysium Studios, in High Street, Swansea, this is fantastic opportunity to gain valuable experience in managing a studio for 6 weeks, before moving onto University or other study/work related focus. This unique opportunity provides complete freedom for a Foundation Student to produce, develop, explore, research, display their practice with complete freedom and support.

Collaborative Digital Residency: Rachael Orphan & Rebecca Mitchell

Digital Residency: Tegan James

These residencies will provide an online space within the Jane Phillips Award website to display and develop work, ideas and research, while offering support and promotion through our networks. Residencies will take place online between June-August 2017, with each selected artist(s) having 6 week residency.

Other Opportunities & Exhibitions in 2017

Mission Gallery and the Jane Phillips Award, will be offering other opportunities to Art & Design Students at UWTSD at all levels in 2017 including selection in our Graduate Showcase at Mission Gallery in August 2017; an offsite exhibition of student work across all disciplines at National Waterfront Museum curated by UWTSD Alumni Jason & Becky and a Graduate Residency in Autumn 2017, responding to our international region wide project, Ephemeral Coast.

Jane Phillips Award

The Jane Phillips Award was set up in memory of the late Jane Phillips (1957 – 2011) Mission Gallery’s first Director. Launched at Mission Gallery in 2011, the award is intended as a legacy to Jane’s passion for mentoring and nurturing talent, consistently supporting the professional artistic growth of emerging and early career artists across the Visual and Applied Arts in Wales and beyond in a variety of different ways. We have developed and broadened the scope of the award recently by introducing more initiatives to assist artists at all stages of their careers. This includes a yearlong programme of Residencies which support students and graduates of UWTSD as well as emerging/early – mid career artists. These exist alongside and complement, the Jane Phillips Exhibition Award; a Curatorial Award and an International Residency

Past winners of the Jane Phillips Award Art & Design Foundation Residencies were; Madeline Tomalin Reeves (2015); Molly Pickering and Keely Hohmann (2016).

“I was thrilled to accept the residency. I had just finished my art foundation and was starting my Degree in Fine Art and History of Art in September, in the summer break it is hard to keep being creative and productive so the opportunity to have a studio was fantastic. The residency has been the perfect opportunity for me to explore myself and my art further, I am very thankful to Mission Gallery for supporting me in my progression as an artist.  I think my time at the studio has been vital for learning and being surrounded by creative people in a creative space, I couldn’t ask for a better environment. I have enjoyed working in the space, meeting people and having the time to really be productive over my summer. It has been a brilliant opportunity that has helped me grow and progress.”

Madeline Tomalin-Reeves, Foundation Student 2014-15

Jane Phillips Award Artist in Residence June 2015

Quote from Foundation residency winners 2017:

Ben Dawson:

“ I am looking forward to having a physical space to continue my practice in painting large scale. The space will allow me to push the boundaries of my art in a new direction. It will give me an understanding of how to run my own studio in preparation for next year. The opportunity to work with the gallery and professional artists as mentors will be incredibly insightful and allow me to reflect on the future of my practice and career.”

Rachel Orphan:

“ I am looking forward to having a chance to continue experimenting and creating work alongside my fellow students. This exciting opportunity will allow me to leave a legacy in my home city before I continue on to University degree. We are one step closer to becoming professional artists and designers!”

Tegan James:

“ This will allow me to maintain a working link with the artistic community in Swansea. It is exciting to be able to create art through a new platform and allow you to potentially show work to a wider demographic.”

Rebecca Mitchell:

“ I am excited for the opportunity to work beyond an educational environment and grow my portfolio over the summer ready for University life”.

Quotes from Foundation team:

“As a team we are thrilled to be working with Mission Gallery again as part of our on-going collaborative relationship with the faculty. This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to embark on their artistic careers before they embrace life at degree level. We look forward to seeing the work that develops from this and would like to take this opportunity to thank staff at Mission Gallery for selecting us to be part of this brilliant award.”