July 11, 2012

Retrospective 4 – Classified Ad

After 2 weeks of waiting for REAL post to come in, I took out an ad on an online classified ads site that’s really popular here in London called Gumtree.

I decided that if I couldn’t get the friends I know to send me post, then I just needed to make new friends.

At that time, Facebook had just set itself so that all profiles were publicly viewable for the first time (my idea actually preceded theirs but I’m not going to pull Zuck up about it) so the timing was just perfect for an ad like this.

I saved the original wording in an email and the wording you are reading are as close to the words as I could make them so that they still made sense today and didn’t embarrass me too much (another early version of the ad can be seen on my blog.

This is being sent in to plot 45 today.

And in other plot 45 related news, thanks to you lot, my wonderful penpals and reader, plot 45 has outgrown the miniscule foot square cage they’ve given me, not once but TWICE! Where before the plot was housed in the main gallery with the other 100 plot, we now reside upstairs in a gallery on our own!

Keep em coming and I’ll keep the my REAL wall retrospective coming from here!

July 11, 2012

Retrospective 3 – Send to receive

As part of the 3 year retrospective of my REAL wall, I decided to send a postcard to each of the other 50 plots (there were initially 50 plots but they added another 50).

The idea was that after opening my REAL wall, I received no post and decided that the best way to receive post was to send it. This is ultimately the first rule to live by in the world of postal media. You must send to receive, it’s only fair.

At the beginning I really didn’t know what to send and to whom to get good stuff back, so I pretty much sent to everyone.

The first rule of postal networking

There is of course an ulterior motive to this as well.

Some of the other plots at the Real network are empty and I wanted to test to see if their owners were paying any attention, or if they’d just abandoned the plots. I know loads of awesome artists who would love to live in one of these and it kinda sickens me to see a good opportunity go to waste, so I sent a few prods out.

I’m also interested to see whether the organisers will actually put all my post into the boxes. Lots of folk who own plots seem to have taken a very controlled approach to their displays, and you can see why. Some of them are designers or companies and to be honest they haven’t done much but put a single item in, so I wanted to test to see what the limits were. Would they be delivered? Would they be taken out? It’s all part of the fun!

[Update – Real tweeted this part, despite having not put out ALL the cards in the other plots]

[Update – Started receiving things too]

Plot 045: @andytgeezer You have received a message (and two prints!) from Plot 006: @armyofcats #welovereal twitter.com/WeLoveReal/sta…

— We Love Real (@WeLoveReal) July 18, 2012


July 6, 2012

Retrospective 2 – Interactive Tablet edition

In the early days my REAL wall remained empty of pieces from other people for a long time. I knew that I could get people to send things in, as I knew that a wall with post on it would look awesome, but just wasn’t sure how to go about getting that post.

The idea here was to create a piece that conveyed the potential that I felt that my REAL wall had in the early days. I knew that the idea of sticking posts on walls was a great idea (heck it worked for Facebook!), so even though the wall wasn’t getting any post I still soldiered on.

To convey the feeling, I created a blank wall by using a glossy piece of laminated wood salvaged from my next door neighbour’s garden. I sawed this so that it was a nice size to hold and cleaned it up a little, before taping the edges with parcel tape.

The blankness of the wall and the invitation to write on it, complete with pens is designed to simulate and stimulate that creative urge I felt and still feel to fill that blank canvas with stuff!

I do hope loads of people do send in their statuses, and I’ve created a page on my REAL wall to display them all when they come in.

On a related note, the REAL wall was too big to fit in an envelope, so I had to create my own, using a large bubble wrap envelope from the neighbours house again. The Real network has provided me with a number of envelopes, which have the FREEPOST address printed on them. However, I wasn’t too sure if you could just write “Freepost [code] etc etc” on any envelope and have the same effect. It should go for free right?

So, I went with the written version to the Post Office, with a cunningly drawn-on 1st class symbol, in the hope that my neat plan would get by the Post Office counter managers eyes. On asking, the postmaster did say that it was ok to post this large, heavy block of wood freepost without a stamp. He took the package and sent it.


As of 2 days later (when I’m writing this) the package doesn’t seem to have arrived, whereas all the stuff sent in the official envelopes have got through. We’ll see what happens and I’ll keep you posted right here on the blog

[UPDATE – The package has arrived!


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

July 3, 2012

my REAL wall photobooth edition

I met an old university friend this weekend who I haven’t seen for a few years and we went out to the South Bank to catch up on old times.

I knew I had some postcards to put up on my REAL wall, so they came with me, and we went to the Festival of the World exhibition, which was running at the Royal Festival Hall.

They have a really cool little machine there, like a retro 4 photograph passport photo machine, but inside it’s got a digital camera and it prints the 4 photos really quickly.

Anyway, they have this machine and a wall with plastic photo pockets, where people would put their photos after they were taken. The machine is free to use and the wall is rammed with photos, it’s great.

I realised that we could make an artwork within an artwork with this, so me and Dave grabbed your post and read them in the machine as it took our picture – Lovely!

Can you spot yours on here?

June 28, 2012

Real Network Profile Timeline

I’m currently taking part in a postal project in the centre of London called welovereal. They give me a “plot” and I need to fill it by sending post in. My first piece of post has to be a profile, for which the organisers have sent a preformatted profile page requesting a name, location and bio.

I’ve decided that my plot will be a pretty thorough history of my REAL wall, so I wanted to get off on the right foot with the profile, giving the audience not just the information requested, but a neat biographic preview of what is to come over the month.

Facebooks timeline format suited this idea and approach perfectly, but I did have to totally ignore the layout provided.

It was such a lovely trip back down memory lane to dig out these major events, and the whole thing took just over 4 hours to complete

July 29, 2011

Featured artist: Benjamin Shaw designs

I first came to know about Benjamin Shaws envelopes when I got one through the post from Benjamin last year. I loved it, and made sure to send him some post back to say so. Next thing you know, I received a neat little package, lovingly wrapped of blank envelopes that I could send out myself!

Inside the package was a lovely handwritten letter too, in which Benjamin talks about his love of post and how by day his work leaves him yearning for a creative outlet and how he recently started making envelopes to fill this gap.

Intrigued, I took a look at Benjamins facebook page and saw some of the other envelopes too, and I decided to send the creator a quick message for an email interview. Here’s what he had to say…

Receiving mail is such an intoxicating joy, and to get mail, I have needed to send it. As long as I have been old enough to write, a favourite past time of mine is to write letters and send notes. Anything postal, including stamps, postmarks, messages in bottles, parcels, postcards, greeting cards and letters have all interested me. I have had many pen friends over the years and have written so many letters. I think letters are so personal and make such intimate time capsules, and personal letters also bring lots of pleasure and happiness to the recipients.

For the people I really cared about, I started making and decorating my own envelopes and being creative with the letters themselves. Cutting out images and making a collage or just making an envelope from a page taken from a magazine. Sketching something or painting something here and there. When I saw some mail art at an exhibition once, I immediately hit upon the idea of drawing pictures on envelopes that made the address interesting, or putting it differently, writing the address on something interesting that had been drawn on the envelope.

It was only a matter of time before this idea transitioned from one off, hand drawn envelopes, sent on their way, to drawing on the computer, so I could start sharing them with other people. All the subject matter comes from my personal experiences, travels, hopes and dreams. My desk has a typewriter and a red phone so makes for easy inspiration. I have an orange alarm clock on my beside table. Many of my friends have young children and so dinosaurs and octopus scenes always go down well. Everywhere I go I am thinking of an odd perspective for a new design. I actually have 100s in my sketch books. I just haven’t translated all them onto the computer – give me time.

The best thing about my envelopes is that they are sent easily and mean that not only one’s thoughts can travel, but so do the envelopes themselves.

Check out Benjamins envelopes on his facebook page