Image: Jane Gibson, Restriction. The artist uses embroidery and photomontage on khadi paper to create portraits exploring the physical and emotional constraints we've endured through mask wearing, connecting via screens and separation.
Inspired by the Mail Art movement in the 60s - when artists sent postcards inscribed with poems and drawings through the post rather than exhibiting or selling them through conventional commercial channels - Correspondence Collective in collaboration with Clayhill Arts are displaying an online exhibition of miniature artworks inspired by experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The exhibition, which was live- streamed on Tuesday 23 March 2021, marks the anniversary of the first UK lockdown and brings together the works of artists created in response to the theme ‘Restriction’ and the constraints many of us have experienced throughout the pandemic. As well as being available to view virtually until 6 April, the new works are also being displayed in a set of old printer’s letterpress drawers at Clayhill Arts in Somerset; the drawers tiny compartments, which originally housed print typefaces, and their varying restrictive dimensions also provided a stimulus for the exhibiting artists.
Image: Sarah Turnbull, Restriction. The artist often works in multiples, using the same image in this context to depict that the feeling of restriction at this time is universal. She finds the process of hand stitching calming and serene – much needed at the moment.
The idea for the miniature exhibition was devised by artist Amanda Lynch who became fascinated by the Mail Art Movement as a way to share art in an unconventional way — made especially pertinent now due to necessity. She said:
“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.”
As well as curating the exhibition, Amanda has set up the artists network Correspondence Collective to bring together creative people to share knowledge and inspiration at a time when many artists are feeling isolated.
Video: Restriction. Film of Correspondence Collective exhibition at Clayhill Arts, Somerset. Filmed with the help of Ignite Somerset.
Miniature pieces of mail art have 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.
The exhibition was launched online by Clayhill Arts on 23 March and is available to view on their website until 6 April.