#Letter365 – The Installation

All mystery is born here. Ink drawing by David Smith
All mystery is born here (detail)
Field Drawing series: Ink on Somerset paper 559x762mm

The #Letter365 project has been a daily, repetitive process of creating and dispatching individual pieces of artwork every day for a year. The culmination is the Installation in the Allsop Gallery of Bridport Arts Centre from 7 March to 11 April 2015 where for the duration those daily creations become part of one larger piece.

Much of my art is about the interplay between chaos and control, emotion and the intellect. Much of my work is created through repetitive actions on a grid structure. The #Letter365 installation is very much part of that stream of work. The envelopes will be displayed in a regular grid structure down the two long walls of the Allsop Gallery. Only those which are sold will be opened out and the artworks displayed next to the envelopes they were posted in, disrupting the regularity.

In #Letter365 my aim is to convey the randomness of our experience within the apparent order of things. Chaotic elements will be obvious from the outset. Because the envelope and contents was handed over nearly every day to  a third party for delivery – in most cases Royal Mail – there is no knowing what happened to it on the way to the Arts Centre. It could have got wet, folded, opened, stained, stamped and soiled. They may have got lost on the way. Even those I delivered by hand may have been damaged or mislaid in their storage time at Bridport Arts Centre.

#Letter365 No115 gets posted
No115 gets posted with a note to the postie

Just because the envelopes are all C5 size doesn’t mean the contents are A5. Differing sizes of artwork will further disrupt the regularity.

Over the duration of the exhibition the work will gradually change and unfold as more pieces are sold and opened. The observer has to become a collaborator for the work to be finished. Eventually, at the end of the show, any unsold pieces will be publicly burned without being opened.

I will also be exhibiting a small selection of other pieces, most of which I created during the year of the #Letter365 project, which may help to place the Installation in the wider context of my work. These will be from my “Field Drawings” and “Tidelines” series which are inspired by the interaction of these disruptive and ordering forces in the landscape.

We all like to believe we live in an well-ordered world. We have grown to rely on things behaving in the same way each day, day in day out. From our earliest history it seems that mankind has built systems and structures to make sense of, to record and, ultimately, attempt to control the natural rhythms of the planet and the heavens. Eclipses, comets, tides, stone circles, the Mayan calendar, atomic clocks – the recurring cycles of Nature and our attempts to understand their patterns has, in a way, been at the core of our development as a species: giving us better hunting, enabling us to develop agriculture, to keep safe, to travel, to think, to create.

It is so comfortable for us to rely on these systems and repetitive patterns that we assume they really are fixed and unchanging. we don’t even notice if there are changes or if we do we immediately compensate to put it all back in order. Most of the time this is healthy and useful but we also can just stop noticing things.

Collage by David Smith
#Collage365 – 045 a crab or a stone
Paper, printed elements and watercolour 229mm x 152mm

In reality, the patterns and rhythms of Nature are riddled with anomalies and without chaotic elements evolution cannot occur. The basic laws of the Universe are quite few but the elements at play are so vast that random is the norm and everything moves towards chaos and, in the end, entropy. My work tries to goad people into noticing the things they had stopped noticing and to question what it is they are really seeing.

That’s why this blog has a photo each day of pretty much the same thing, an envelope held up to a postbox. Every day the same mundane action: over and over repeating yet everyday just a bit different. Occasionally there will be something a bit different that happens and every once in a while a noticeable difference. In the prolonged processes of the mundane we sometimes find promptings towards the profound.