I've been working hard on a new collage. I covered a sheet of paper with random pieces of magazine, no real thought, just following the fancy. I had three copies of the same issue of a supermarket give-away and, for some reason that I will probably never fully understand, a picture of a humble bath-brush caught both my eye and imagination. I tore them out, halved each in a different way, then added them to the work in hand; and that was as far as it went. The muse left me and my creation seemed as flat as Google earth.
Then today I noticed, amongst the debris of another job, three words: change, choice and destiny. The light of inspiration flashed, the heart missed a second beat; I reached for the old, dead piece of 'nearly art' and added the new finds, labelling each brush with its hidden meaning. Success!
This afternoon I will complete the second 'Grand Act of Creation'. The walk to the post office, the perplexed look on the clerk's face, the randomly placed stamp and then the void; the journey begun.
This for me is what mail art is all about.
In a fortnight's time, a month's, or maybe a year or so, I might get a response. It will probably be a total non-sequitur or merely a mystified silence, but there is always the chance of something unimaginable arriving that brings with it enlightenment or inspiration or perhaps even delight.
Once, when I had only recently dipped my toe into the ocean that was 'The Eternal Network' I answered a call for a project somewhere in Europe. I sent something or other and, a few weeks later received a reply. The artist I had sent to had scribbled all over my poor little offering, had torn it to pieces, reassembled it and stuck his own work over the result. I was a little put out but sent him something else anyway (though nothing precious). Again a received my work back severely maltreated and all but destroyed. I'll 'ave 'im, I thought. I tore up what he had sent and mangled it, rubber stamped all over the pieces and stuck it all back together with extras. That'll serve 'im right!
I had never had such a swift response!
Without realising it I had joined in the conversation, started a dialogue, engaged with the process of creation. I had been pushed out of my comfort zone and had started to do undreamt feats of creation. It turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my 'career' and lasted for several years.
The rule book of mail art has many pages but they are all blank except for one. That page shows a detailed map of the world with instructions for getting to your nearest post office.
It is the only rule worth not breaking.