August 14, 2013

Presenting my REAL wall at Techjam

I’ve been pretty busy learning to code recently and have been attending informal coding meets called Techjam run by a very cool group called Freeformers. These guys teach young people how to take bits of the web and “remix” them to make cool new things and encourage young entrepreneurs to make their ideas happen on the web.

Tuesday nights are one of my reserved evenings as Techjams run on Tuesdays. Having attended for a while, I was asked to share a project that I’ve been working on and I decided to present my REAL wall, not because it’s in any way a startup, but I just wanted to talk about how working with your passions means that creating on the web is effortless.

Apparently, my “elevator pitch” went down really well and one of the guys videoed the back end of it, which I figured to upload here and share.

January 10, 2013

my REAL wall and Stripygoose present 5 postcards 2013 (Introduction lecture wall)

Stripygoose and Andytgeezer present 5 Postcards 2013

2013-01-09 12.14.23

Over the years, I’ve been getting involved with mailart shows and projects with my REAL wall and it’s been such a hoot. Some shows and projects are now going into their second year, which I think is very flattering and this is one of those projects. 5 postcards was a project dreamt up by me and a lecturer at my university, Sue. I have always liked mixing business and pleasure and believe deeply in the educational benefit of tangible objects being exchanged between people, which is why I set up Schoolswaps.

We wanted to use postcards to get students thinking about school experiences. The idea was to get students to think of 5 incidents that happened to them in school, either as students or as teachers, that stuck with them. They then have to create 5 postcards illustrating these experiences.

Last year, the postcards blew us away. We were taken on quite a journey and found that the exercise really opened students up and got them expressing themselves. In the end we even collated all the postcards into a book, which we distributed to the students and done all sorts of extra work as it was such a thrill.

As a result of all this excitement, Sue signed up for Mailart 365 and has been steadily creating all year.

Oh yeah and on the subject of MA365…

I MADE IT! I just completed today!


Aaaaaanyway…Todays REAL walls come from the introductory lesson to this years project. It’s a new class with new students but we wanted to build on last years success and do it again. So in todays lesson, Sue and I brought out some mailart from our collections. On the wall you can see some of the mailart that I’ve received since the last time I posted mingled among some of Sue’s own collection. I’ve never actually rifled through Sue’s collection and I have sent her one or two pieces. It was quite strange to see my works again that I had sent off but always a pleasure to see artists that I know in her collection, like Cornpone and Mim and she recognised works from Suus in Mokum and Rebecca in my collection.

Artists that Sue had never seen from my collection include Hope. There’s lots of post from Hope, who’s artwork I always adore. She’s an artist I will tell you time and again that you should subscribe to, because her letterpress is AWESOME!

Students picked out favourites from Angie and Snooky and Boo Cartledge as well as saying they loved Sue’s style.

So now the students have to go away and think about their experiences and start their creative process. I can’t wait to see what they create!

July 6, 2012

my REAL wall presents – The Portrait Room

Following the success of the 5 postcards show, I was asked by the head of the department I look after, Education to put up the postcards in one of our most prestigious rooms in the university, the Portrait Room for an Education department meeting.

Me and Sue were superbly excited by the chance to get that sort of exposure, as the whole department we work for would get a chance to see our project, a project we strongly believe in. So we took the postcards down from where they were in room 122 in the library, and moved them all across to the Portrait Room in the morning.

With 230 cards, we managed to fill the entire room, and it looked AMAZING.

So, with a real sense of accomplishment after spending the whole morning posting the postcards on the wall, we slipped off to lunch.

When we arrived back, we found that some jobsworth properties/estates person had removed all the cards. Apparently the building is a listed building and no blu-tac was allowed on the wood panelling. Hmmmm Thanks. We were going to take them down straight after the meeting. Now, with 20 minutes before the meeting started, we had the task of getting all 230 cards back on the windows, and the cards were now a mess.

We were fuming.

We did manage to do it with a few extra hands, but ultimately the effect was lost and we had to live with the postcards no longer having the impact we expected. Sue has a much more pragmatic attitude than I do (I just wanted to punch someone in the face) and assured me that the unexpected does happen and we need to accept these things sometimes. I still want to punch someone in the face.

The presentation went pretty well and some of the lecturers were really inspired by what we had to say about postcards in education, so we were grateful for the exposure even though some things did go wrong, but I guess that’s how it goes sometimes

March 3, 2012

my REAL wall presents…Using Postcards on the Art Education PGCE at TMRoehampton

I had a hand in putting together the first Teachmeet at Roehampton, the university where I work and decided that doing the tech bits and the organising wasn’t enough work for me, so decided to present 2 presentations too. One of the presentations was on the use of postcards on the secondary art PGCE (teacher training course) last year.

The original post, with video and powerpoint presentation slides is up on the teachmeet site at (yes I put this up too – can’t get enough of all that lovely work)

I mainly yabber on about how postcards are a modern day alternative to all that electronic noise our children are used to these days. As much as I love the internet, I do still strongly believe that REAL tangible communications are key to a happy life as humans

March 3, 2012

2012 MA Art Education presentation REAL wall


For the second year running I was asked to run a talk to the MA Art Education students at my university on mailart in education. For me this is a hugely exciting lecture that I do as a favour to the art education lecturers, who I get on very well with.

This years cohort were a lovely bunch of girls who were really interested to hear about how mailart changed me from physics teacher to artist, and from artist to postcard swap coordinator. In short mailart has changed my life and I’m not afraid to admit it!

After talking at length about my REAL wall, mailart 365 and schoolswaps, the students were let loose to create their own mailart and they took to it like fish to water. In about an hour we had at least 2 pieces each ready to be let loose into the world.

All in a days work at my REAL wall 🙂

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 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 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…

June 5, 2011

my REAL wall presents – The first ever joint mailart talk by Andy and Elena at Pimlico library!

On 27th April 2011, Andy and Elena gave their first ever public mailart lecture at Pimlico library together. As part of the graphic novels season, we put together the Little Big Stories show, and the librarians thought it would be a good idea to include a talk about mailart in the season as it is a relatively unknown artform.

We agreed to run the talk together and the library bought the stamps and postcards for the participants.

Pimlico Mailart Workshops (3)

The talk was modestly attended but those who turned up were treated to a feast of mailart. We talked about the history of mailart, how it came about and how my REAL wall came into existence. After a look through some of the gems that have appeared on my REAL wall, we got the participants making their own, which they addressed to some of the people who had sent some to us in the past

Pimlico Mailart Workshops (2)

By the end of the session, everyone had made at least one piece and put a stamp on it to post. I’ve since heard that some of the pieces have been received.

If there’s anything more satisfying than making a piece of mailart, I think it’s watching those first pieces of mailart go out from people who have just discovered the medium. It’s just great!

Pimlico Mailart Workshops (5)

The Graphic novels season was a huge success for Pimlico and I want to take a moment to say thanks to them for putting on such a great programme of events and for including us in there (I would never have ever thought i’d have my name on the programme with Helen McCarthy and Paul Gravett! Wow! fanboy geekness heaven!). You can read a writeup of the night on their blog. It has been excellent and I can’t wait to get involved again next year!

Thanks to everyone for sending in your pieces for Little Big Stories. Keep your eyes on this site to hear what happens next with those, you’ve not heard the end of these yet…