Chuck Welch AKA Cracker Jack kid, said ‘Mail art is whatever you want it to be… the work isn’t fine art the person is fine’. I was first introduced to mail art nearly one year ago by a good friend. During the first lock down of 2020 I was struggling to make art, to make anything and just to generally keep going.
During the start of the UK lock down I joined IUOMA (International Union Of Mail Art) and Pandora’s box was opened, I discovered artists from all over the world who are making art and shipping it via the postal system to other mail artists. Some of these works are add and pass, this can be anything from an artist book to a blank piece of paper, artists are asked to add a piece to the work sent out and then send this onto another person or person’s. Mail art is open and encourages all art forms, something I absolutely love about mail art. There is no judging or fees to take part in mail art. I started to send out postcards to people I didn’t know, this was extremely nerve racking to start with, lots of questions such as should I send this, what will this person think, will I hear back were all things that rushed through my mind as I was standing in front of a post box. But taking the leap of faith I sent out the mail. To my surprise I have received mail from all over the world near and far and the artwork is so different from each person, this enabled me to respond to these works and no have to worry about sticking to a theme of work, material or thought.
Mail art has been influenced by the DaDa movement and Fluxus movement from the 1960s. Ray Johnson influenced this hugely by sending postcards to friends and sharing his work with others via the postal system. Artworks included instructions on how to draw images, and mass produced posters a way of expressing artwork on a mass level, in a way becoming his own factory.
So what is mail art, mail art can be anything that can be sent in the post, large or small, handmade or found object mail art is anything you want it to be. Over the last year I have found mail art to be freeing and has opened up connections with others I wouldn’t of have been able to make in person. This is strange since we have spent a large amount of time in doors and yet I have built a network of people to send mail to in a time that I am physically restricted in doors my art work has no bounds. I would encourage anyone to send someone a piece of art in the post, a postcard falling into someones letter box during these strange times has an immense power. Whenever I receive some mail art in the post it starts my day with a smile, a fresh new starting point to make art, no restrictions, I feel free.