As regular readers of the blog now, in October, I presented my first ever mailart lecture to a group of secondary art teaching students, and worked with their tutor to get them sending mailart to each other through the course of their placements in schools.
These days it's not unusual for students to have to put together an electronic portfolio of their work, and we had initially planned to do this but when I happened to start talking about my REAL wall with the head of art and design education, we came up with a plan. REAL portfolios. Why would you let all this artistic talent go to waste, let's send mailart instead! This seemed a much more appropriate (and fun) way to put one together over the course of the term, while inspiring and supporting each other. And it seemed a pretty odd bit of advice from the e-learning advisor too...
After a term in schools we wanted to put the pieces together that came out of this project and put on a show to showcase how the REAL portfolio project went.
It went brilliantly.
I cannot begin to get into words how exciting it was to see all the students looking through each others works and going "WOW!" and the feedback I got from the students was phenomenal. It seemed that all the effects that mailart has had on me, uplifting, supporting, inspiring, developing and so on had all happened to the students.
It was so great to hear that people would actually look forward to doing their weekly assignment, they loved to receive this little personal snippet from another student and know that while they were out in schools they were not alone in their experiences. It was great.
That's quite enough chatter from me, but I wanted to include the blurb that accompanied this show, which was written by Jo Davies, the head of Art and Design Education at the university where I work
PGCE Secondary Art and Design 2010-11 Mail Art Exhibition
The PGCE Secondary Art and Desgin MailArt group has been set up in response or rather to counter the online networking communication that prevails in all workplaces and institutions of education and is inspired (ironically) by Andy Hoang, E learning advisor and artist, who is involved in a wider global mailart group himself.
The aim of the project is for students to keep in touch while out on school placements and boost each other's morale through what can be a very isolating experience in a creative way. It was felt that this practical, 'hands-on' approach to communication and sharing of ideas and experiences through the PGCE course would suit Art and Design students better than a social networking or other online form of communication. The personal time and attention given to this craft based task may be seen as a reaction against the distance and virtual forms of communication increasingly used throughout the rest of the students' training and a recognition of the need to acknowledge and support each other in a more meaningful and tangible way.
The PGCE Secondary Art and Design students sent one postcard to each of the rest of the group once a week throughout the Autumn term. A timetable was to make sure that everyone in the group makes and sends a postcard as well as receives one every week. The postcards are handmade or at the very least hand altered so that some art practice is going on as an antidote to all the other less inspiring paperwork they are filling in and include messages of support and inspiration to remind each other that they are 'all in it together'!
The exercise will be repeated during the Spring and Summer terms and the long term aim is for students to carry this oninto their NQT year and beyond. The group already has an offshoot with two of the students running a mail art club sending postcards between their two placement schools, linked to a self portrait/identity project! The project has also 'caught the eye' of the National Society of Education in Art and Design who will be including the project in an article in the launch of their new magazine, AD.
So that seems to have gone well enough. Want to know what it looked like?
Barely 2 years after starting my REAL wall I seem to have started something I could never have dreamt of. I can hardly believe it.