An exhibition of miniature artworks will be displayed in a set of old printer’s letterpress drawers.
The drawers’ tiny compartments – which originally housed the print typefaces – have provided a stimulus for the exhibiting artists. Inspired by the restrictions many of us have experienced due to covid-19, more than 200 artists from all over the world have produced work, including a four-piece jigsaw, tiny books, a decorated coin, and small shell sculptures made out of old maps.
The new works will be exhibited at Clayhill Arts, Bridgwater, Somerset and showcased online.
The idea was devised by artist Amanda Lynch who became fascinated by the Mail Art Movement which began in the 1960s, when artists sent postcards with poems or drawings through the post rather than exhibiting through conventional channels.
Amanda used the restrictions of the pandemic and the idea of Mail Art as inspiration for the exhibition.
“I’ve been sending postcards through the mail since the first lockdown began. It’s a good way to keep in touch, and it brings such joy when people receive a piece of art through the letterbox.
“One of the things I wanted to do with this exhibition was to include some of the people who sometimes find it harder to get their work exhibited, so I’ve reached out to disabled artists and to emerging artists and encouraged them to take part.
“I wanted to share this creative conversation with others, so as well as inviting people to send their tiny pieces of art, I’m setting up an artists’ network so that we can stay in touch and learn from each other.”
Work has been sent through the post from all over Britain, and as far afield as New Zealand, Japan and the Faroe Islands.
Benji Appleby-Tyler used his work to show that under the current restrictions, many of us do not feel ‘whole’. He created a small jigsaw with each of the four pieces displayed in a separate compartment. The work aims to show how people’s mental health is affected by the imposed restrictions which force many people to be alone.
The link with the letterpress drawers has a personal significance for the artist whose grandfather worked as a typesetter at the Weston Mercury for many years.
Michelle Wood is based in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside. She has created small shell-like forms from vintage maps, and a concertina folding book containing delicate drawings and prints of shells.
“My work is inspired and sustained by our coastal location. Throughout the past year, I have been beach walking, scouring for shells and stones and dipping in the North Sea, with a view of the horizon and what lies beyond. There is a new and real tension between keeping ourselves close, with that of looking outward beyond our horizon. We are tiny creatures in a vast sea.”
Ruth Barrett-Danes is a print maker who has created tiny books reflecting the images from her window. Until lockdown, Ruth was very active, teaching printmaking and working with adults with learning disabilities.
“I never regarded myself as “vulnerable” until suddenly I found myself labelled as such and robbed of my ability to be able to interact within a vibrant community with shared interests and passions.”
Ann Mansolino is based in Blairmore, Alberta, Canada. The letterpress drawer compartments reminded her of the appearance of a Zoom call.
“A computer screen full of faces in little Zoom boxes has become, for me, one of the enduring symbols of this strange time and of the restrictions and limitations and alternate ways of communicating with others associated with it.”
She has made four photographic images showing herself playing different roles, fighting against the restrictive space of the boxes. Each image is framed with the Zoom interface – the box with buttons for mute, screen sharing, etc.
Kaoru Shibuta is from Kyoto, Japan
Through his art, he translates musical notes into images and contemporary installations, creating a poetic symphony composed of images, colours and harmony, fusing nature, music and art.
Toni Mosley is an artist and printmaker based in Auckland, New Zealand.
She has used prints bound up with thread so they are restricted – they cannot be opened and unfolded to their full size. Her idea relates to the lack of movement, isolation and of waiting for someone to cut the thread and release.
Sharon Gale and Jason Gale (known as Quiet British Accent) have painted a face mask onto the image of the monarch on a pre-decimal penny along with a slogan referring to our current times, specifically lockdown.
Theresa Kohlbeck lives on the Faroe Islands in the middle of the North Atlantic. She creates tiny tondos – circular works of art. One shows a heath orchid, restricted in its own space of a mossy meadow. This reflect the way that people are restricted to their homes during lockdown.
As well as curating the exhibition, Amanda has set up the Correspondence Collective to bring together creative people to share knowledge and inspiration at a time when many artists are feeling isolated.
Contributed artwork will be archived by Clayhill Arts as a record of work created about this unusual time.
The exhibition will be launched online by Clayhill Arts on Tuesday 23 March, a year on from the start of the first lockdown.