I had a burning desire to give a hint on the envelope of the contents. It’s sometimes nice to give a little jokey teaser on the gift tag of a present, so people give a puzzled look and the go “aah” and smile weakly when they get it. However, I have my hands full as it is.
The first thing to get out of the way is the # (hash) at the beginning: this comes from Twitter and my year of creating a collage every day under the hashtag #Collage365. If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, the # symbol is used as a device to make searching easier and associate tweets with a specific subject. Web design uses hidden lists of subject words, metatags, to help search engines find and index content. With the rise of blogging these hidden index phrases became public and visible and became just “tags”. Twitter’s limited number of characters meant that users needed a way to highlight a word as a “tag” and suffixing with a # was the solution – the “hashtag” – subsequently taken up by Facebook and others. So by using the hashtag #Letter365 as the project name it links it to my successful history of a publically-proclaimed, daily discipline and makes a mark in social media as well as causing a little curiosity.
Well 365 is pretty obvious. I will be creating a new, unique artwork each and every day for one whole year with the last one being created on the preview opening of the installation in the Allsop Gallery at Bridport Arts Centre on 6th March 2015.
That leaves us with Letter. Why Letter and not Mail or Post or Package or Parcel for example? Well Mail and Post suggest the process of delivery and only by inference the items so conveyed. #Letter365 is not principally about getting posted and delivered by whatever means. Putting it into a post box or arranging for its delivery in some way is principally a device to ensure and document that I keep up with the daily discipline of creating the work before midnight each day.
It is also important to me that I get it out of my hands and into a place where I – and for that matter anybody else – can not tamper with it further. Each piece is a product of the day and reflects that day’s process. The brilliant thing about a daily process such as this or #Collage365 is that it sharpens the critical faculties and the decision-making processes. I cannot afford to get caught up in reviewing pieces on another day and wanting to change or touch up work later. I aim to ensure that I am happy with each piece each day and stand by that.
So why not a package or a parcel? I am already wondering how I can get round the self-imposed rules of the envelope having to be no larger than ordinary letter size! If I had not imposed some size discipline I could easily end up sending large pieces causing an even bigger storage problem for the Arts Centre across the year.
In any case, I have a great fondness for the letter. Everyone likes to receive letters and yet few of us send them anymore. Verbal communication over distance is almost exclusively electronic and digital for most of us and visual communication is going the same way. We demand instant gratification of our desire to know what is going on with our friends and family. We can barely resist the notification tone on our phones for a minute or two. Nevertheless, many of us remember the sweet anticipation, an anticipation that lasted days, of waiting for a reply to our letters. For anyone involved or interested in #Letter365 the anticipation is pretty long! Everyone wants to know what is in the letter you received.
The letters I loved most often included pictures, drawings, maps, photographs, plans, recipes, cuttings and more. My friend Anita in Minneapolis wrote letters that would take your breath away – and still do when I come across the ones I kept. Most of these things you can append to your emails or stick on Pinterest or send a link to.
So what I aim to do is to create something each day that we can’t easily do electronically and digitally: something personal, intimate and largely hand-made; something that reflects each day of my life for a year; something of value worth waiting a while for.
So #Letter365 seems an ideal title.
I am starting to settle down to this project now. I am feeling relaxed and creative about it and I am losing the apprehension I started out with. I am now confident that each day I can create a new, unique artwork to a good standard: something of quality and value that I am proud. But please do not think that it means I’m regaining my sanity for every day I continue proves that something is amiss!
Now I have begun to get into a routine I’m starting to do the planning and thinking and preparing I had hoped to do in advance of the project.
While the lambs in the field opposite chased madly round and round, and my neighbour sat in his car listening to sport on the radio, I popped this one in the box. It’s been a beautiful spring day and I have been working in the garden for most of it, but the beautiful work inside the envelope has nothing to do with any of the subjects mentioned so far!
I have also changed the colour of the sealing wax – I don’t like this wax either. I must get some proper wax if I am to continue using it – or, as I have said before , make some!
I hope tomorrow i can find some time to develop some of the rules of engagement for this project and fill out some of the basic notions I am working through.
#Letter365 did a tour of Birmingham today. Here the picture shows No8 with Antony Gormley’s Iron Man behind with Birmingham’s beautifully restored Town Hall as a backdrop.
Today’s piece was a challenge for me. Last night I realised that I had forgotten to take the materials I wanted so changed to plan B until I realised I hadn’t got the makings of that second idea. It turned out well in the end and was something totally new to me in one way!
For those falling in love with the post boxes here’s a picture of a modern Birmingham facility:
No8 goes in the box in Redditch
I managed to get this done on my phone (sort of). So much for the connectivity of my camera and tablet!
It’s a bit like taking an unwanted dog a long way away and dumping it and seeing if it gets lost. I’m taking this one with me on the way to the West Midlands to post from a far away post box and then wonder at how great it is that it will find its way to the right destination.
Which all gives me an idea: I might just leave some pieces, from time to time, in a busy place – all stamped up and ready to go – and film from a distance if people post it for me!
Depending on the G3 signal I may not be able to post the picture of me posting in some alien post box and so you will have to trust the date on the photo as evidence when I can get a connection.
I have already prepared my envelope for tomorrow’s and the surbstrate for the work while I am away – only one shot!
This must be terribly exciting for someone. Yes it’s a different post box and for all I know it may be of particular interest to post box aficionados. I once thought I would do a photographic book about post boxes and still occasionally take pictures of postboxes in unusual situations or with various creatures in the frame. I hasten to add that I am not so sad as to know anything about the different models – yet!
The pale ghost that is #Letter365 No7 is ready to go, but as I have to go to Dorchester this afternoon I’ll post it there. Quite pleased with today’s piece in the end, though it was a struggle before I was quite happy with it.
The envelope was a struggle too. Even though I have the saved artwork on my screen with No7 on the top left, somehow I managed to use an earlier saved version to transfer to print! Ah well, that’s all part of the unfolding process of things.
I have been out all day and didn’t manage to finish my piece before I left this morning. I set to work as soon as I returned and thought I had missed the post. When I got to the box it had already been emptied but the postman was just coming out of the Post Office and agreed to take the letter.