July 27, 2012

Featured resource – Postcrossing

As part of the 3 year retrospective sent in to the Real show, I wanted to cover some of the resources that have made my REAL wall the place it is today and the first resource I was told about where people meet to swap post was Postcrossing

The Postcrossing project is a great starting point for anyone wanting to get into post. The setup is very intuitive, you just make an account and send post, and as a result of sending you will get one back from someone else.

In the early days, Postcrossing was how I found other people to send to, so I spent more than a year sending out Postcrossings and made some very good friends via the site who I still send to today.

My REAL wall owes a lot to Postcrossing, as the constant, reliable stream of postcards from postcrossers kept me going in the early days when I wasn’t sure that people would really be up for this postcard thing. It was good to know, from seeing how enthusiastic postcrossers are, that people were still keen to send postcards. I wasn’t just imagining it!

In October after starting my REAL wall, my project was featured on the official Postcrossing blog, which was a huge thrill and drew in even more post. I have always been able to rely on Postcrossing for a fix of postal goodness!

July 20, 2012

my REAL wall Featured Artist – Gareth Hopkins

As part of the 3 year my REAL wall retrospective, I enter the Featured Artists galleries and the very first artist to step up to the wall is Gareth Hopkins, a UK based artist and illustrator. The reason he’s the first featured artist in the retrospective is because my REAL wall would have not been nearly as interesting a place so fast if it hadn’t been for him.

Gareth was the first person to respond to my Gumtree ad for post and slowly introduced me to Postcrossing and mailart.

This is by no means all the artwork and post he’s sent me, as I reserved some of his artworks for other galleries I’ll be sending in, notably, Send me your Status, but this includes some important works, including the original letter and the one in which he introduces me to The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon and mailart, as well as 2 copies of the Intercorstal, an ongoing comic that he has produced.

To see more information on the pieces on the wall, just click on the wall above, which will take you through to flickr where you can hover over the image for more detailed information.

I’ve met Gareth a few times and he still continues to stay in touch and inspire. In fact, he’s the one who introduced me to the Real Gallery, where he lives in plot 25, so ultimately it’s down to him that I’m doing a retrospective at all

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 Retrospective 1 – The Final Status

This month, my REAL wall is in residence at the Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, courtesy of the REAL network.

As a result, all post sent in to my REAL wall will go straight up on my plot there, so if you are sending in, keep an eye on Plot 45 which will be updated daily by the lovely staff at the gallery.

Meanwhile, back here at my REAL wall HQ, I will be preparing the pieces that go into my plot from me. Yes I find it odd too, sending post to myself. As far as I know, the only person who does this on a regular basis is Valentine. Personally I can’t see how this is going to work for the other plots, but for me, the idea of sending something to myself for display presents a new challenge, and I thought that I would make use of the space to create a retrospective of my REAL wall, in chronological order. I’ll send them in and post them here a few days later.

This first piece shows my decision to quit facebook and the small number of comments I received, which mainly suggested that living without facebook was not possible.

I went a year without it and in that time my life changed irreversibly for the better…

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

June 27, 2012

REAL Social Networking – Your mailart needed for a BIG London showing! URGENT

I’ve been given a public space to display mailart at a new mail project that’s opened in the very centre of London. The project is called Welcome to Real, and bills itself as the physical first network to be run in the post. Regular readers of my REAL wall may have a little something to say about that…

my REAL wall - It's elementary you know

Anyway, the idea of this project, sponsored by Royal Mail, is that they have a public display space in a pretty prominent place in the centre of London and they are giving a number of lucky folk “plots”, which are little pieces of space to display stuff that is to be sent in by post. I’ve been given plot 45 to display in and I shall be running my REAL wall at that address until the end of the show, which runs til the 27th July.

I shall be doing a retrospective/live performance of my REAL wall, showing all the awesome stuff I’ve been sent over the years. You of course can take part and fill up my plot too mailartists and readers, just send all your mail to me this month at my plot address, which is…

my REAL wall, Plot 45, REAL, The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, 1-2 Royal Opera Arcade, London, SW1Y 4UY, UK

If you’ve sent to me in the past, keep your eyes on www.myrealwall.comand http://www.welcometoreal.co.uk/plot/plot-45/ to see if your post makes a reappearance and if you’re sending in you will definitely make an appearance!


June 24, 2012

REAL to Real

Earlier this week I heard about a new social network that really tickled me. Called Real, the physical network, this new social network can be found at www.welcometoreal.com.

So what makes it different from other social networks, you may be wondering. Well Real is a project sponsored by Royal Mail which gives a select few people some wall space in a premium location in London. All that the people have to do in return fill that space by sending in Real post.

It’s a real wall to be filled with real post. Sound familiar?

Anyway, i’m not bitter, even about the bit where they say they’re the first real social network as I applaud any effort to connect people, especially using post, and i’m throwing my full support behind the project.

I’ve been given a plot to fill, plot 45, and the lovely folk at Real have sent me a welcome pack, complete with lots of awesome pre-paid envelopes. I have some ideas and will probably ask for your help to fill my plot, so watch this space!

I’ll get started on my first pieces for the plot tonight. In the meantime, I decided to take all the post out into the real world, so here is the contents of my inbox on the tube between Hammersmith and Goldhawk Road. I think it all looks very happy there.

if you want to help new full my plot and show London what postal social networking is really all about, drop me a line!