Does anyone swap art with prisoners (either prisoners of conscience or others) or other "outsiders" to society? I'm really keen to hear about how mailart is applied to these marginalised groups. I think that it has huge potential for rehabilitation of prisoners and in art therapy, as well as bringing a ray of light into some lives.



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This is a really good point. 


+' we' have so much to receive from 'them'  


i did go art class once + the teacher did a lot of work in 2 prisons near Manchester - she d have been good contact - a wonderful woman --- but i don't now see her.


I hope this may take off or be a seed that comes up


I wonder if 'iuoma' - us  could appraoch prisons + hospitals somehow ?  .......


icertainly feel Both freed + better for iuoma i myst say...


good luck


you have a lot of gr8 idea andyg 

(gosh ive never edited 1 of me posts before !!   :)

Thanks Laurence. I have been considering talking to the art therapy department at my university about using mailart and it's potential benefits. 


Not sure if you saw it, as you are also a Londoner, but every year, the Koestler trust run the annual Art by Offenders show in London's Southbank. It's great. Some of the artworks are stonking. I wish that there were more prison groups on mailart networks, as I think that mailart's "No jury" ethos is particularly relevant to this group. I get loads of art in the post and because I don't know anything about the artist, I will always look at the art on it's own merits. 


As you say Laurence, it's a freeing feeling

Thanx very andy.


I will look linc for the K trust.


Yes, wonderful ethos for prison + hospitasl + other outsider groups.


The art therapy dept good idea. -- i must try speak to some art therapist friend / ex colleague about this.


I love the o art book - most not in book of course. Jean Dubuffet a great one -- 'patron saint' for all outsider artist of all kinds.


all best


I'm sure that there are many outsiders, and I think that the beauty of mailart is that you never really ask or delve into the background of the sender. As far as I am concerned you could be prisoner, patient or alien I will not judge you as a person, to me the sender of mailart is an artist first and foremost. Through mailart that connection is made, which does not necessitate social graces.



I write to animal rights prisoners (mostly American), but I've hesitated to send them mail art because each prison has different restrictions on mail. For example, some prisons do not allow stickers on the mail or handmade paper. Nonetheless, I'll look into sending art to the prisoners I write to.

Ah I hadn't thought of that Erica. Can you tell me where you find out about the activists? 


I have sent some of my 365 to prisoners, whose contact details I have found online in very random places. I will also start sending some to political prisoners via the amnesty Greeting Cards site


This also looks like it could be promising  - 

Hey Andy!


I joined a political prisoners email list a while ago. It's called the ELP Prisoner's Network. I don't know if they have a website anymore. However, here are some websites you should check out:


I hope that helps!



Thanks Erica that's really helpful! I think I'll put my money where my mouth is and start sending out! 


I think an issue with starting a thread like this is that it perhaps seems voyeuristic, but I'm genuinely interested in using mailart as a way to reach out and effect change. Let's give it a go

I work at a university and have thus got access to some of the finest academic minds (apparently) all day. I just sent an email to the Art Therapy department and mentioned that I'd be interested in seeing what I could do with them with mailart. I've got a meeting arranged with them next week. This could be very interested
In the 90-ies I was in contact with someone on 'deathrow' in the USA. We exchanged a lot of letters. he was a poet and actually managed to publish his book which he sent me. Somehow the contact was broken after a few years and I lost cotact. Still remember these times and the need to reach out for everybody.

I find great encouragement in this message, + the link with the person on 'deathrow' + terrific that that person made book + sent to the world + to Ruud  -


-  especially in a nutshell these words :


'Still remember these times and the need to reach out for everybody.'

I also find the need to reach out to those incarcerated and suffering to be a really valiant use of mailart. I know at the moment that Amnesty are running their annual Human Rights postcards drive and think it would be great if we used art to bridge these gaps. 

Personally I think it would be a bad thing if art was labelled as art "by outsiders" as such, and like the idea that mailart is totally inclusive, and that we write to each other as fellow human beings and artists




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