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art through the letter box

Since it was started by Rudd Jansen in August 16, 1988, I have been a member of I.U.O.M.A, the International Union of Mail Artists. The result of this is that my letterbox is always busy with postcards, envelopes containing artwork and varied items of artistic expression. It is difficult to understand how some of them managed to make it through the post, so unusual are they. From July 2012 to July 2013 I have published all the Mail Art I have received in a blog in the online social network started also by Rudd on November 13, 2008. Now in 2013, the 25th year of the creation of IUOMA, this little Mail Art project is my contribution to the celebrations and my way of showing my gratitude to Rudd and to all my friends in Mail Art.

About me,

in case you may be interested

I prepared this marthafesto for a project by Janus. A most rewarding exercise. It made me introspect and finally discover my stance re Art in the Multiverse. My inspiration came from all those statements I had to write in art school, trying to justify my artwork, as if it were possible. The less the teachers understood my rantings the best I got on, so I drew extensively from the philosophers in fashion at the time, Derrida and all that lot. But my greatest debt is to Dr Zeus.

About the project,

which documents the Mail Art that dropped through my letter box in one year.

Some dropped virtually in my eMail box. I have no problems with that as eventually we will all have to accept the disappearance of the Snail Mail services. They are becoming far too expensive, in some countries they are quite unreliable or indeed practically non existent and it is likely that they will disappear altogether except for the distribution of packets by private firms. In the UK, after years of promises that it would not happen, our Royal Mail soon will be up for sale; plans are being drawn up as I write this.

So this may be one of the last Snail Mail projects in which I will have the pleasure to be involved. No more the surprise on the door mat, the anticipated pleasure of the decorated envelope with its mysterious content, the sensuality of the paper, it smell, the texture of the collage, but above all the amused face of my postman who takes a keen interest in art by now. He tells me it makes a big difference to the usual boring envelopes he delivers.

I certainly will hang on to our dear Snail Mail Art as long as it exists, but in the event of its demise I shall embrace whatever substitute appears, in the knowledge that the contact and camaraderie among fellow Mail Artists will always remain, to be enjoyed by whatever means possible. MailArtMartha July 2013

The art and the artists

A book from Carol Stetser,USA. Carol makes the most interesting artists bookworks full of symbolism, combining graphic art and photography.

This amazing mixed media piece by Martha W.Bush, USA, came unsigned so it was a mystery for a while. I love the textures of the underlying painting.

Vaida adiaV, a new friend from Lithuania, send this original mixed media work combining painting and embroidery. The red circles let the light through and the black circles move freely in them.

From the USA, a compilation of all the Mail Art received during 2012 by Cascadia Artpost, made into a card. Mine is the peace dove in the middle. This is a super idea.

From Linda Pelati, Italy, an extraordinary Christmas card picture, notice the little girl's expression echoing Caravagio's medusa. I don't think she got the present she expected...

And this from Dean the Banana Specialist, France, a collage featuring scenes of Strasbourg and Christmas markets. A very nice and cheerful composition in the inimitable style of Bananaman, but no bananas today...

A super collage, notice the delicate figures inside the windows. XX Jones is, like me, in the Austrian group. XX because she lives there and I out of empathy with all things Austrian. This group is not very active and it was such a nice surprise to meet another groupie.

Valentine Mark Herman's ( Val) painted beer mat and artwork on landing card are both stunning in vibrant colours. No doubt a reminder of the French Mediterranean sun in which he basks

Dame Mailarta, Canada, sent the documentation of her show to which I contributed. It was accompanied by the lovely greeting card shown above. The envelope is made of a page of a book titled 'A Guide to Self Education'. Most useful.

From Mim Golub Scalin, USA, a super collage and a quote from Dr Zeus.

This fabulous collage came from Tere Troya, Argentina, by email, I am glad to see evidence of the acceptance of digital media in Mail Art.

De Villo Sloan, USA. sent a trashpo object poem, a most welcome addition to the project

Diana Keys, USA, sent this trashpo piece. I love the sensitivity of the drawing. With the skunk hair from a real skunk? an extraordinary composition. Above is the see-through envelope in which it all came. Before I opened it, the excitement!

Mariano Filippetta, Italy, threw a coin in this fountain in Ravenna for me to have a wish, a sweet thing to do. I have to consider it carefully.

Bananas all the way from Greece from Momkat, celebrating the 18th November, Banana Appreciation Day. Really, there is one, no kidding!

A super watercolour by Giuliana de Fiori, Brazil.

A beautiful and sensitive computer picture by Bruno Cassaglia

From Valentine Mark Herman (Val), France, a cascade emanating from an envelope made with a placemat from his favourite cafe, including a great red flamingo and some postage stamps with Geronimo Stilton, an Italian mouse that I know well. I am trying to learn Italian reading his comics.

A watercolour collage by Giuliana de Fiori. Brazil, I love it, it is very similar to my own watercolours.

I received this Leaf of Grass from Moan Lisa, USA, from her book project. I am privileged to have had a preview!

Roberto Swierkiewicz sent me this piece from Budapest. The explanatory text is in Hungarian so until I find a translator I can only guess it is, I think, a detail of a large canvas.

Rebecca Gruyer, UK, has made a clever use of the Mail Art postcards she receives. A town of cards which can become an ongoing project or perhaps a new way of making documentations. Think of the fun in building it!

From Carina Grandlund, Finland, who introduced me to Trashpo.

And the reverse is even better if possible. Notice the sheep/cushion/alien being carrying the address!

A long time ago, before this blog existed, Dean, France, sent me this, possibly the longest bar code in the world. This was from his Bar Code Period, which was before his current Banana Period.

A beautiful and curious collage by Val, France.

Trick Sensei, USA, has sent me a large and detailed hand print in a highly decorated envelope. Superb.

Janus, Germany,an old friend from before IUOMA got on the Internet, sent this booklet. I hope the centre page gives an idea of how fantastic Janus' art is.

Hemi, Germany, sent me one of his super artworks many of which I have had the pleasure of receiving for my past shows.

This book came from Cheryl Penn, South Africa. It has the collected work of several of us. A great effort by Cheryl and all the contributing artists and worth to see in its entirety which you can do in YouTube.

The following are the cards I received celebrating Banana Appreciation Day, organized by Dean.

A royal banana with a monkey in attendance came from Lisa Iversen. The gold of the crown (doesn’t show well here) looks so real that I am surprised it was not stolen in the post! Absolutely fabulous! And I love the banana drawing on the address side too.

Momkat, Greece, sent me a sunny happy picture of a banana boat. It seems to float away into the blue of sea and sky, all fused into one. Wonderful picture.

From Lynn Radford, USA, a photo of a collage of banana stickers, lots of bananas eaten for sure, and on the address side an amazing visual poem involving a banana skin and text.

Janine Weiss, Switzerland, has sent me a bookie that has many layers, playing with colour, light and meaning. After reading it carefully this is my conclusion: Eat bananas, they are very good for your body, not so sure if also for your mind.

Valentine Mark Herman's hungry monster is after the banana. This is a particularly lovable monster; I could adopt it if it is house trained and a vegetarian. I don't want it to eat my cat.

A sweet mouse with stuff that got lost en route, it might have been a banana. It still works for me, Angie and Snooky!

This dramatic picture from Dean, the Bananaman recognises my achievements in the field of ripening bananas. It is true I ripen fruit, not just bananas, on the windowsill. It works even in winter as long as there is some sun.

An interactive bookie from Luise Kiner, Canada, it is lovely to see Zombie Kawaii Kitty again, she wrote a book while she stayed with me, here is the link

From Dean, France. A fantastic take on science, the universe and everything else.

A great little bookie from Louise Kiner, the genius behind Zombie Kitty Kawaii

A page from it.

From Tomo, I wish I had this on my Shopping Trolley Gallery when attacked by the pyromaniac artist. A gorgeous hand made print showing a security guard looking after the Shopping Trolley Gallery, which is now on my front door as the trolley is no more. Details of the tragedy are in ‘ My trip to Retailia’ published also in Issuu.

From Fleur Helsingor, USA, a great mini hanging, the beautiful cat looks like mine when young. I like the play of diagonals in the composition.

A hen with a wise message from Stripygoose, UK, good to be reminded, not one of my strong points.

My first piece of Trashpo from Carina Grandlund, Finland. Made from rubbish left on her table, great way of tidying up.

This is a beautiful, carefully designed and informative book from Cascadia Artpost, USA. Hard cover too!

Inside the pockets there are playing cards with quotes from Bierce's work. This is inspirational; I must make some artist's books myself.

This document from Louise Kiner, Canada, arrived as ZKK left, it made me laugh despite my depression due to missing ZKK

Wisdom and blueness from Suus in Mokum, Netherlands.

My favourite page from Guido Vermeulen's amazing book of collages ...

... sent from Belgium in this giant envelope with the image of a monstrous orange cat, the arch enemy of Guido's felines.

From Momkat, a CD . Very welcomed for my cottage in Cloudcuckooland.

From Yves Maraux, France. Is that Krishna talking with one of his many girlfriends about planning a birthday party for IUOMA? I didn't know the Gods care!

Yves tell me that he is being bombarded with alpha particles emanating from Alpha Centauri. The pink figure bottom right hand corner is him, apparently. Was the Shopping Trolley Gallery similarly targeted? And if so, who, or what, is the personage in the mask?

Catalan art from Antonio Moreno Garrido. Spain. I guess it may mean 'We are here' but is only a guess.

From Rebecca Gruyver, UK. Bad art she says, but I do not think so. Good art I say, full of the last blush of the day.

' ‘Summer Blue Mail Art' written on the envelope hinted at the peaceful seascape inside, from Momkat, Greece.

'Kiwi' by Amy Irwen, scrumptious!

A very decorative horse which would make anyone proud of having drawn it and a characteristic bird on the address side of the card from Stripygoose.

Cascadia Artpost sent this picture to my Post Office box which is closed by now, so the card has travelled back to the States and again here to get to me. All is right at the end.

A great hand made print by Trick Sensei, so very tactile.

Momkat sent a mysterious envelope addressed to Kevin the postman and me, not to be opened until the 29th of June. I opened on that date and it celebrates

the birthday of Antoine de Saint Exupery. Great idea Momkat, we should celebrate our heroes. And I like to add if I may that not only all great persons have once been children but I think that all great persons keep being children at heart for ever.

From Ficus Strangulensis (Fike) who does not indulge in strangling any more, he says. First of the super pictures is 'Garden chive and new maple leaf', followed by 'Buckeye blossoms' and 'Totally tentacular' and finally 'Tardigrade immolation' and 'Ringing'. I confess that I have a favourite, and that is the picture of the siamese twins bears.

One day I received not one but two wonderful postcards from Cascadia Artpost, on their back there are the Cascadia stamps made for the Editions Janus project, A Ray of Light.

The images on the stamps are of recollections of happy things and situations for Cascadia and together with the beautiful flower photos have brightened up this dull English spring day for me too. Thank you so much!

Dean is away, on retreat perhaps? but as a parting gesture and to liven up Kevin my postman's dull deliveries he has sent this belated Christmas card full of gold and fun, seen here held by Becasine. Thanks Dean, and may the Banana be with you.

Momkat sent a super landscape made with collaged sand paper which she describes as Sandpo, very appropriately.

From Rider, aged 7, USA, a great little bookie of tiny poems, my favourite is the above and in the next pagea collage and three beautiful monoprints.

From Pierce's Mom, Jinny. a purple bird for Indigo, my young neighbour who is working on a bookie for Rider. Also a sticker showing a very thin mermaid.

Jinny Pierce sent some very original puppets and has written a few lines of poesy as well. I shall try my best to be Beauty and Rhythm and may take them out dancing in beautiful downtown Snailmail-on-Sea, the capital of Retailia, when the weather improves.

From Nelda Louise Harris, USA, a striking piece of eMailArt celebrating the Year of the Snake. This is a photo she took of one of her neighbours, as she lives in Snake Country!

An artist self portrait of the geious behind Cascadia Artpost made in Amsterdam when on his European Grand Tour.

A fine decorated envelope from Richard Baudet, France. Richard works with Mail Art envelopes.

A birdie, jet propelled? Arrived from Spain, an example of the great and cheerful art of Stripygoose.

Rider, who has the good fortune to be the son of a Mail Artist, has sent me a very clever and beautifully composed collage.

He is obviously interested in science which is so exiting now; no wonder it inspires art. I also am fascinated with it but haven't found a way to turn it into art; Rider has beaten me to it.

'Legs, what do I need you for?' My translation of 'Pernas, pra que te quero' I hope it gives de gist of the saying which is the inspiration for the lovely collage sent by Ana Marta Austin. (In Spanish, with which I am more familiar, the expression is used when one is obliged to take to walk. Like in: The bus was late so I went legs, what do I have you for? )

From Mim, USA, a lovely minimal picture that suggests a lot more, just beautiful!

Fleur Helsingor, USA, sent a super springtime photo with a flower added for good measure. Just what I needed at the time, here the sun was scarce, the East wind blowing from Russia and the flowers were very shy to show themselves.

A fantastic piece of art found by XX Jones, within a decorated envelope to match, well spotted Double X!

Marguerite Keen, USA, has sent a blue little beauty with loving hearts, gorgeous.

A sad landscape, as Sue Vallance, UK, describes it. a good reflection of the winter we had and were still having in spring ...

Yet another fantastic and huge postcard from Dean Marks, an enormous collage including even a broken pair of glasses, how do they survive the cares of the post is a mystery. I love the stitch work.

From Moan Lisa, USA, a beautiful folder with a great image of a swimming turtle inside. This is from an artist who is not afraid to use the computer as an art tool, I am very happy about it.

And this superb drawing is not for me, boo hoo! It was sent by Frieder Speck to Mailarta but with my address. Frieder has told me that if it found its way here it must be because it was meant to be, so I get to keep it, sorry Mailarta.

A beautiful photo of a shop window from Fleur Helsingor, a piece of material for a butterfly covered curtain? I would love one!

Dean cannot refrain form making Mail Art even when travelling. This great collage was created on the ferry to the UK.

The US postal service has joined the Mail Art A package arrived and in it, after much unwrapping, I found a banana. It was in very good condition, surprisingly, but before I had time to taste it Darwin grabbed it and it needs a braver woman than me to prise it from him. It was of course sent by Erni Bar from Germany. A great photo of Erni being held at gun point is on the reverse of the envelope, above. I hope they didn’t take all of his bananas.

The US postal service has joined the Mail Art community! This is what I got the other day. Notice the tear on the plastic envelope, circled in red. When I read the message I got worried and opened the wrapping expecting to find a mess.

Not so, Dear Reader, the superb fe-mail art message of Marguerite E. Keen (sadly not a member of IUOMA) was impeccable as usual as you can see.

A Twee bit of Mail from XX Jones and an Edelweiss as well from Austria. Beautiful fun.

From Ficus Strangulensis, with whom I exchanged many an art piece in the prehistory of Mail Art, a collection of superb postcards in a fantastic envelope. Including a self-portrait, saying Boo! (next page) So Fike, so great!

Boo! By Fike, very scary!

An image by Viviana Maria Cernjul, Argentina, absolutely lovely. It came by ePost which is fine with me. I think it is probably a photo or scan of a paintingbut it may have been painted directly onscreen.

From Lynette Killam, stupendous artwork and subtle haikus, very much to my liking. The top picture will be my daily inspiration from now on. The first Artist's Trading Card is called 'Times ripens all things' and the second ' Solitude'. Simply beautiful.

Commemorative stamp from David Dellafiora, a very suitable homage to Shozo, who will be always remembered in Mail Art

A fantastic envelope with lots of IUOMA goodies from Ruud Jansen. Fun to see the Ex Libris I sent him on it.

A bunny from no other than Lazybunny

This cute lion, came with no return address, no signature. Eventually Stripygoose has claimed this beautiful piece.

Two beautiful collages from Momkat, all about Easter eggs and egg making.

From Momkat two great cards chasing each other to my mail box. A gorgeous Valentine day greeting with Love in Greek and also a collaged Banana Valentine card, beautifully put together.

A pink heart from Moan Lisa, USA, entreating me to grow. That I shall do, if not in stature at least in girth, I cannot help it... That was a joke; I know what you mean and shall strive to do it.

Mary Grellner sent me a collection of work by her friends in an envelope that she had received and turned inside out, showing the nice pattern that lines it. That's a novel and practical idea.

Marguerite Keen sent me a transparent envelope, too beautiful to be opened but as they say, one destroys the things one love most, so I did open it, carefully, and two small and empty envelopes, two labels and lots of pink and white hearts were set free. A lovely experience.

A fantastic bookie from Suus in Mokum, which bowled me over, amazing and complex work the likes of which I cannot achieve in a million years. It is built around the postcard I sent her for Banana Day. I am so honoured.

Fleur Helsingor has sent me a beautiful photo of a Christmas window, I wish I could enter that shop, it seems magical. And a Fluxus Buck, it's been ages since I have seen one. I shall carry it with me for a while, add to it and then sent it on its way, as tradition dictates.

And another one from Dean. Three artworks in a month, and that is just to me, my! this boy has superenergy! Must be all those bananas ... A great dotty picture and a funny bit of writing too. I love his literary efforts, always bring a ray of sunshine.

From Dean a composition with those attractive dots that appear alongside sheets of stamps. On the other side of the postcard a hilarious piece of writing.

Et les artistes postales, d'ou viennent - ils? Mercury I assume. Merci, Val!

From Janine Weiss. Switzerland; an intriguing collage. I am watched now, I shall have to behave...

From Richard Canard, USA, a 1975 invitation to an exhibition of the art work sent to him. Richard participated in the original art movement initiated in the 60's by Ray Johnson, which is known as the New York Correspondence School and from which Mail Art was born. I am so honoured to have this historic piece in my collection.

An Artist Trading Card with a superb heart made in wood from Piccadilly Post, Marguerite E. Keen, USA, with a sheet of stamps to match. I love the feel of the wood on the brown card and the old yellowing book insert.

Elizabeth Zois and I are friends of long ago and now IOUMA has reunited us. In celebration this beautiful image of a cardinal with hand made frog stamps came through the post. Fabulous and funny!

Fleur Helsingor, USA, sent me a super photo as a Christmas card!

From Pedro Bericat, Spain, a refreshing bit of Spanish Trashpo, juicy oranges and grapes!

More inimitable work by Val, France, all in the envelope used for the cutlery at La Rotonde. Too much time spent in that cafe, methinks.

From an old friend, Guido Bondioli, USA, a mixed media collage, very beautifully composed and worked on both sides.

Moan Lisa, USA, has sent lovely and very elaborated images of original digital Fe-Mail Art, a lot of feeling there expressed in beautiful colours.

Dean, in France, has made an stylistic leap in his artwork from representative towards a sophisticated abstract imagery with this very creative use of the paper lining that some envelopes have. Dean certainly can do anything.

A welcomed message of hope from Elizabeth Zois, USA, at a time when it seemed that our very English grey and cold spring time would never end.

But it did! And we had a few weeks, which is all we can expect in Britain, of sweltering heat, celebrated by this postcard of Rebecca Gruyver.

Art through the letterbox