January 30, 2012

my REAL wall – 30 January 2012

Gosh what a year 2012 has been and it’s barely started!

Already this month, I’ve taken 4 mailart-related lectures, with another one scheduled tomorrow. Tomorrows talk is part of a big event i’m helping to run at Roehampton university called Teachmeet, where teachers come and share ideas on teaching. Everyone gets 7 minutes to talk about anyidea they’ve used in class, and I’ll be talking about how students at our university used postcards to keep in touch during school experience while teacher training, an initiative I led last year. I’m pretty nervous, as usual, but I’m sure it will go fine.

How is this all related to this wall you may be wondering. Well that postcard in the middle (Getting into Literacy) came from another teacher, @jodieworld, who ran the last Teachmeet I was at, where I talked about my educational postcard project Schoolswaps. I talked about how we still need the postal service despite all these advances in technology, then managed to forget my USB stick in her computer. This postcard accompanied the USB stick in the post, which neatly proves my point.

That lovely pic of a happily married couple comes from my best friend at University, Jay, and shows him and his wife, who really is just perfect for him. Me and Elena went to see them last Wednesday as it was my birthday and we went go-karting, which was great fun.

In the right hand corner you can see a runner drawn by Dewi when he came to stay at our house and went walking in Richmond Park. His eye was caught by the strange hand position of this bearded runner and made him his 365th piece in Mailart365, which he then gave to me by hand in my house, from Canada via Tuscany. now THAT’S dedication! Wish you could join us in France Dewi!

Next to that is the 2nd 365 by Katerina Nikoltsou. She actually got to 365 and sent it to me, but I didn’t get it as she’d put the wrong number on the envelope. So they sent it back to her. Meanwhile she made an exact replica of her 365th piece and sent me that instead. That arrived to me and the other arrived back in Greece. Not wanting me to miss out, she sent me that one too, so i can now say I own 2 #365s from Katerina. Yay!

January 27, 2012

My REAL wall – student school experiences part 1

A couple of weeks ago I presented a lecture to some students at the university where I work on the use of postcards as an expressive tool for an assignment they were to be set.

The idea was that the students were going to create 5 postcards on which they were to tell of 5 incidents that stand out in their memory from their school days.

After introducing my REAL wall and talking about postcards in schools and how they had been used to tell stories from my experience, the students were asked to create their first ones and bring them in this week. This is by the first class and there are some cracking stories here!

The class was such a pleasure to attend. When the students came in, they dropped their cards into a “postbox” by the door. This mean that the students could remain anonymous if they wished. The lesson commenced and halfway through the lesson the students took a break, during which time the postcards were all put up on the board as you see them here.

On the return from their break, I took the students and we took a look at the postcards submitted. Students were asked to look at the postcards and discuss what they thought each one meant and if they related to any of them. They were told that they didn’t need to say which was theirs if they didn’t want to, but pretty soon we had explanations coming in from every student about what their postcards represented. It was GREAT! There were so many experiences, and so many nods from people who had been there.

In the flickr version of this photo (which you get to by simply clicking on the photo), I’ve done my best to recall which stories went with which, so if you hover over the images you’ll be able to read the stories. If you don’t read the stories, do just enjoy the images and ask yourself what they may mean.

At the moment the students are collecting these images up on a class blog, which is private, and at the end we hope to put on a little show, which should be a real gem. It would be really nice for teachers to be able to see the sorts of memories that the children go away from school with. I will also ask the students to upload any images they want to share with readers of my REAL wall so that they can share their experiences with you directly. You all have a treat in store believe me!

A little note for the Thursday group – I’m so sorry I didn’t manage to get a photo of the wall at the end of the lesson as I was chatting and by the time I remembered the postcards had all gone! 🙁

January 25, 2012

Plays the Thing postcard show in conjunction with Escape Artists


At the end of last year, I teamed up with a UK charity called Escape Artists, with whom I helped run a postcard show called “A good day looks like…”

The show was part of a conference called “Plays The Thing“, which was about exploring creative approaches to wellbeing, and so we asked for people to consider what a good day looked like in the spirit of exploring and expressing creatively what wellbeing meant to them.

This was a particularly interesting show for me, because among other things, Escape Artists do a lot of work with prisoners and young people, so this show had many contributions from people I don’t often see in my postbox.

Can you guess which ones were done by prisoners, which by children and which were done by mainstream artists?

I didn’t manage to get too many photos on the days the conference was on of the photos on display, but here are the 2 photos I took on my phone of all the postcards up on display at the conference

Another unofficial REAL wall (www.myrealwall.com) of post put... on Twitpic

My REAL wall put together with @escapeartists for #playstheth... on Twitpic

I’m looking forward to working more with Escape Artists in future and hope to use the post to bring people together, regardless of their backgrounds

All the images can be seen in all their glory on my flickr site, where I lovingly scanned and archived them. I’ll add descriptions when I get a chance.

January 23, 2012

my REAL wall – 23 January 2012

“Why the long delay between REAL walls at the moment?” you may be wondering. The answer is really simple. Winter.

Our present house is rented, which means we can’t just stick up willy-nilly as we did in our own house previously, as the adhesive we use, Blu-tac, sometimes rips off the paintwork and we would rather like our deposit back.

So the wall I’ve chosen as my main REAL wall is in the conservatory, and most of your postcards are opened then put in the conservatory in an ever-expanding pile waiting for it to be warm enough for me to bear to go out and stick them up on the wall. December and January have been WAY too cold for my pathetic little body to take, not to mention the winter hibernation, but this weekend was finally warm enough to get some postcards on the walls.

The large painting is a long-overdue posting which came from Clohn Art to me while I was still at my old address. The reason it’s taken so long to go up on the wall is that I thought it was so good, I couldn’t help but take it into work, where it’s been next to my desk for the last 4 months. Check out the Clohn art site, where you can pick up a sample of trash art for bargain basement prices.

The 4th wasp in Cornpone‘s series is next to that, and those pieces are joined by some of my favourite mailartists of all, JJ, Heleen (complete with Postcrossing stamps! Yay) and Katerina Nikoltsou, who I will be seeing next month in Paris as part of the Mim mailart meetup.

Other gems on the wall come from Kerri Pullo, Mim and Hope, whose Keep writing project is well worth the asking price on Etsy I can tell you.

Thanks to everyone on the wall for contributing your fabulous art and post from all over the world as ever.

If any mailartists do happen to be in Paris in Mid-October, do drop me a line, as I’d love for Mims mailart meet to be HUGE!

January 18, 2012

Your REAL wall by Stimpdawg – House of wall art

The House of Art Wall by Stimpdawg
The House of Art Wall, a photo by Stimpdawg on Flickr.

This is the first House of Art Wall. I borrowed the idea from my friend Andy’s my REAL wall. He posts mailart and postcards that he receives on a wall in his house. He even told me about the adhesive board you see my postcards on. It allows you to stick paper or photos onto the sticky board without any tape. For some reason I could only find it available in England and not in the USA.

The postcards are some I’ve received and a few are ones I have collected during my travels. The postcard on the top left is a postcard that Lil Dave wrote to his dad Big Dave when we were traveling. It’s a picture of a boy holding a monkey in front of the Seashore Temple in Mahabalipuram, India. The next one over is from a Sichuan Opera that we went to in Chengdu, China. The next postcard is from Andy from my REAL wall which contains many pictures of him. The last one in that row is a postcard from a Couchsurfing Spanish couple who stayed with us – it’s from where they live in Spain.

The first postcard in the next row is a friend Raynell who I met on ICQ years ago. She sent me a postcard from her backyard in Waimānalo, Hawaii. I recently reconnected with her on Facebook after finding this postcard when I was packing up my stuff in my old room at my parent’s house. There’s a postcard of the Capuchin Crypt in Rome, Italy that we visited. It’s a creepy, but cool crypt where skeletons and bones are placed as lamps, monks and in patterns. The last postcard in that row is from Keep Writing Postcards project. It’s a homemade postcard that I receive monthly. You can receive the postcards from her Etsy shop.

There’s a few more postcards that I found along my travels. There’s a Salvador Dali postcard from Australia and The Colosseum from Rome, Italy. I like the Dream Bangkok postcard that has a pink trailer on it. This modern hotel has the best free postcards that I’ve ever seen and I’ve been to many hotels traveling around the world for 3 years. There’s also a postcard from the Sydney Underground Film Festival which has a picture of a lady with windows of men in them which reminds me of Dali. The last one is a picture of the Mena House Oberoi in Cairo, Egypt taken in 1920. Joy Loves Adventure is the second homemade postcard I received from the Keep Writing Postcards project.

The washboards are around The House of Art Wall. My fiance Ivan bought the washboard on the right for Christmas. It turned out to be the wrong color and type. The company said he could keep it and then sent the right one which is listed on the left side. Now I have to learn to play it! Ever since I saw a girl playing it in a band on the street in New Orleans, I’ve always wanted one.

I would love to receive a postcard or mailart from you. I’ll send something to you! Go here to contact me with your information.

January 16, 2012

Using postcards in the classroom – my REAL wall/Schoolswaps presentation at Teachmeet London

In November 2011, I attended Teachmeet London and gave a brief presentation on the use of postcards in teaching. I referred to my REAL wall, so here’s a link to the presentation a little belatedly


This year I’m looking to get more young people sending postcards, connecting up my hobby of sending and receiving post and my job in education, so you’ll see more stuff happening over on www.schoolswaps.net as well as here on my REAL wall

January 13, 2012

my REAL wall presents…5 picture story

In my day job as an e-learning advisor at Roehampton university, my role is to advise lecturers on the best technology to use for teaching their subjects. Most the time this is something electronic, for example a forum or a blog, or a video camera, but sometimes the best technology is the most basic and I never draw the line at electronic learning tools.


This term I was asked by a lecturer to suggest the ideal tool for getting students to express their feelings about an event that happened to them at school when they were younger. I wanted for the students to be able to reflect on this experience and to use whatever they had to hand to express how the event made them feel, without fear of criticism.

For me, postcards have been an ideal vehicle for learning to express myself. The almost-anonymous nature of postcards (you choose whether to sign them or not) and the idea that the recipient is separated from us by time and distance has this effect of freeing the artist to express themselves in a way that real-time social media and face-to-face interactions can’t, yet it still reaches out and makes a connection. For some applications, like Postsecret, this is perfect, and so I decided to suggest postcards for this project.


The idea is for students to illustrate on 5 6×4 inch postcards an experience or series of experiences which happened to them in school that they can remember. After they have done so, they will send these images in to their lecturer and share the experiences if they wish.

This idea came from a lesson I taught while I was schools, and so I showed pictures from this to the students and postcards which have been sent by you to my REAL wall to illustrate what kinds of stories you could tell using the limited size of a postcard.

Uni talk

I volunteered to introduce the postcard picture story project to the students and on Tuesday and Thursday, I went in to the classroom to present to 2 sets of classes, starting with an introduction to my REAL wall and human-human communications in the digital age and moved on to tales of teaching from my past, finally ending up on the task at hand, which was the creation of the 5 picture stories.

The students were really excited at the prospect of sending post and the talks seemed to go down really well. I was asked by the students for some tips on how to get into sending post and I recommended Postcrossing as a good place to start as well as of course, looking on the sidebar of my REAL wall for some great postal folk. In addition, I’ve added a link to my article “How to make your mailbox more interesting” in the sidebar, so if anyone does want more than bills in their postbox next week, why not give it a read.


Looking forward to seeing what delights the students produce and if I get permission I will stick some of the best right up here on this site.

When I was at school, I used to love writing stories until the day that I wrote a literary criticism of Macbeth for English literature, in which I drew parallels with the Ninja clans of ancient Japan. My English teacher ripped it to pieces verbally and I never wrote again. Perhaps I’ll make a mailart piece about that some day…

January 4, 2012

Just in time for 12th night!

I’ve been way behind on posting, but had a deadline on this one as it’s bad luck to leave your Christmas cards up after Twelfth Night.

Happy new year!