When you buy a #Letter365 day you will get the original piece of artwork created by me on that day plus the envelope it was sent to Bridport Arts Centre in. There may or may not be additional packing that was included to protect the artwork or deceive the viewer of the envelope, It will be my decision at the time of the installation if this is relevant or part of the artwork. If so you will get this as well. The envelope of each is unique, numbered, often annotated and usually sealed with wax.
More importantly you are buying a small piece of a much larger artwork – the #Letter365 Installation at Bridport Arts Centre. So you are buying a piece of art with a story which is an integral component of it. Your piece also has a history: its creation on a particular day, its journey to the Arts Center and its public display.
So you mustn’t expect a neatly turned out artwork, it might have been through the wars! Like the patina on a piece of Sheraton; the bullet-shaped dent in the cigarette case from the Somme; or pin holes on a Matisse cut-out, any “distresses” your piece has sustained are part of that story. Talking of which, your piece will definitely have pin holes in it!
Sure, wherever possible I have used good quality materials in the making of the pieces: acid-free and sometimes hand-made papers, good quality inks and paints, high quality inkjet inks and papers, long-lasting non-staining adhesives etc. BUT there may be things that are not anywhere near archival quality in some pieces. Because of the huge range of styles and techniques employed you may get something pretty ephemeral – that is part of the work. Remember, my abiding interest is the interplay of chaos and control!
So what is in the envelope?
My only rule was that it must be able to be sent by Royal Mail as a standard sized letter. Basically it means a C5 envelope no more than 5mm thick. So it is fair to say that many pieces will be pretty flat and around A5 size. Some may be bigger some smaller.
They could be drawings, paintings, prints, collages, photographs – well any form of visual art really. I say visual art but I wouldn’t totally discount the possibility of poetry, music, sound, video or anything else you could describe as “art”. The key things are can it be made to fit in the envelope and will it take longer than a day to make from start to finish? I can tell you for nothing there are no bronze sculptures or etchings. And everything is unique and one off.
The point that I have made there – no longer than a day to make – is at the heart of this project. The whole idea is that each piece is substantially made from scratch each day. That means I do not plan or make stuff in advance. Now, as an artist I have a continual flow of ideas and I keep sketchbooks to record these ideas. So I may use ideas I have been exploring elsewhere or, at times, look to my sketchbooks for inspiration but each piece I put into a #Letter365 envelope has been made that day without forethought. I am always preparing materials for use in collages and sometimes for paintings so I have used my stock of materials for this project too. The distinction is, if I have produced a photograph as the day’s piece I would have taken and printed that photo that day. If I were to use my photography in a collage I may have created it that day or used it from stock. If I were to create a digital collage it would be made and printed that day. In all cases where it would be possible to create a multiple I have destroyed the makings of it after making the piece: deleted files, defaced plates etc.
I have tried to maintain a high quality throughout the project and have never had a “that’ll do” moment. My rule has been that I would not put anything in an envelope that I would not be happy to have on my walls. I believe that every piece is of at least the quality of my work for the #Collage365 project I completed last year. Well that is how I felt when I put the pieces in the envelopes. It could be that my critical faculties were skewed in some way on some days – sometime it takes a while to know if a piece is resolved – but a recent scan through my photographic record leaves me pleasantly content. In fact there is some really cracking work in there!