February 17, 2013

my REAL wall on the cable car in Hong Kong

Elena and I have just come back from Hong Kong, where we were for 5 days. We were very very lucky to have been given the flights and our accommodation by the Hong Kong Tourist Board and Cathay Pacific, because we went with our carnival group, Sunshine International Arts and danced in costume in the Chinese New Year festival.

The whole thing was an incredible experience, but 5 days in full costume, dancing on the road meant we were exhausted when we came back. We did however, get a few half days here and there to get out and about, so I took the opportunity to take your postcards out for a little tour of the country.

It’s been a while since I posted in public, and I must admit I was a little too shy to post in downtown Hong Kong, where the whole of humanity would have crowded around curiously asking questions, but when we got the cable car in Lantau Island up the giant copper Buddha on the mountain we found ourselves alone and I took the chance to get a couple of pics.

my REAL wall on the cable car in Hong Kong


As a little bonus, here’s some footage of me and Elena and our group on the road in Hong Kong. Elena is the one in the silver butterfly costume at the front and I am controlling the big black rastaman puppet. Enjoy!

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!

December 13, 2012

Your REAL wall on tour with Rejin Leys in New York

Whoop whoop! Always love it when mailart goes out on tour. Recently, in response to a tweet from regular REAL wall contributor Rejin Leys I decided to send a photo from an earlier REAL wall. Little did I know, that my little piece of mailart would go and have it’s only little REAL adventure. So, hang tight folks and lets go around New York with Rejin Leys!

The first tweeted pic was on November 21st, reporting our first field trip “together”


May I say, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and I’m very glad that Rejin kept me wrapped up warm

Then, on the 26th November we went out again, around NY

What a thrill – I’d never been to NY before and now I was going and seeing all the sites!

The last place we visited in November was the Unisphere, which I think was in Men in Black

Now, my little pic is probably up somewhere in the house on a REAL wall where it belongs. What a lovely trip. Thanks Rejin!

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 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