People + Place (Mail) is a multi-artist project initiated by Laura Eldret of More Than Ponies, with the support of A Space Arts, Southampton.
I and the other artists involved (Laura Eldret, Harry Meadows, Annabel Pettigrew, Gemma Gore and Lizzie Jones) have been exploring the role of Correspondence Art in place-based practice at a time of social distancing. We’ve been taking it in turns to initiate some kind of creative exchange with the rest of the group, via the post or email.
You can find further information on the project and the artwork made by the different artists by visiting the People + Place (Mail) page on the More Than Ponies website.
In this post I wanted to share the group’s responses to my own provocation – a package of materials sent out to each of them via Royal Mail. Each of these packages were the same apart from a section of map, with each artist receiving a different page from an old road atlas, covering the South of England, to link with the geographical area of the group.
The invitation read as follows…
‘Hello PaPers, I’m inviting you to use the contents of this bag, and the bag itself, to interact with and document your experiences of a room in your house or flat.
Pick a room and a day during w/c 1st June. Use any media that you have available to record your sensory, emotional and imaginative response of the place, onto/into the bag and its contents.
When you’ve finished (take as much or as little time as you like), please take a photo of the results and email it to me.
Please include the name of the room and the date in your email. I’ll then collate them and share (if everyone is happy) via my blog/instagram as a group experiment.
Here is a taste of what each artist got up to in their own words and photographs…
‘So my two children and I got quite involved in this sensory experience of our kitchen. Dexter (5) and Zadie (2) helped shred the contents of the bag, make a ‘potion’ boiling together with a range of spices (fenugreek, turmeric, curry powder and mustard seeds) with a squeeze of lemon juice. After leaving to soak all night the potion was then sieved and the mash rolled flat and dried in the oven to produce a rough paper object that was then pinned to the fridge door. We present this residue of our experience as the documentation.’
‘I have the experiment results! It was from today 7th June 2020. I was sat in the back room of the house. I found it uncanny as the places on the map you sent have strong personal resonance for me, so it turned into an exercise of summoning memories.’
‘Thankyou for the mail and mission. I had a nice time thinking about a space here and will attach some pics of that fiddling. Maybe I’ll do more with it at some point though just thought I’d send you something for now. It was nice how the bits you sent fitted easily into/ onto what I was doing. Size wise and themes. It was fun to see how much musing and ideas can come of the suggestion and materials and was nice to use other materials for a change. Then I reverted to a bit of drawing too, think the collaged bits have probably got more scope / interest.’
‘I was going to choose a different room as I’ve made a lot of work in my kitchen during lockdown, but then I woke up early one day and decided to make the most of the time by myself downstairs whilst my boy and husband were asleep. I started cutting one of the pieces of paper/card into a long strip – I wanted to explore the spaces of the kitchen and expand on the small scale of the post-able materials. As I worked a pigeon appeared on the bird-table outside so I wrote about that. Then drew around my hand, added some flowers that had dried up on the windowsill, and gradually extended the artwork until it hung down into the sink, linking with cutlery on the draining board.’
‘Conceptualised in the kitchen, inspired by your kitchen sketchbook (and of course the envelope content), made in the studio as kitchen always too busy!’
‘I used my sitting room, and sat at the bar where we play games, whilst waiting for Rob to finish up working…
I had this familiar feeling or idea of being sat at a bar waiting for someone – a feeling I hadn’t experienced in an age! If I still smoked, I would have smoked, but instead I played games with the contents of the package; cats cradles with the hands, a mystery identity tag. I was apprehensive, as if going on a first date.
I wanted to send it back to you like a message in a bottle – but I only had a spare jam jar, which wouldn’t fit in the bag.’