Featured artist: Benjamin Shaw designs

I first came to know about Benjamin Shaws envelopes when I got one through the post from Benjamin last year. I loved it, and made sure to send him some post back to say so. Next thing you know, I received a neat little package, lovingly wrapped of blank envelopes that I could send out myself!

Inside the package was a lovely handwritten letter too, in which Benjamin talks about his love of post and how by day his work leaves him yearning for a creative outlet and how he recently started making envelopes to fill this gap.

Intrigued, I took a look at Benjamins facebook page and saw some of the other envelopes too, and I decided to send the creator a quick message for an email interview. Here's what he had to say...

Receiving mail is such an intoxicating joy, and to get mail, I have needed to send it. As long as I have been old enough to write, a favourite past time of mine is to write letters and send notes. Anything postal, including stamps, postmarks, messages in bottles, parcels, postcards, greeting cards and letters have all interested me. I have had many pen friends over the years and have written so many letters. I think letters are so personal and make such intimate time capsules, and personal letters also bring lots of pleasure and happiness to the recipients.

For the people I really cared about, I started making and decorating my own envelopes and being creative with the letters themselves. Cutting out images and making a collage or just making an envelope from a page taken from a magazine. Sketching something or painting something here and there. When I saw some mail art at an exhibition once, I immediately hit upon the idea of drawing pictures on envelopes that made the address interesting, or putting it differently, writing the address on something interesting that had been drawn on the envelope.

It was only a matter of time before this idea transitioned from one off, hand drawn envelopes, sent on their way, to drawing on the computer, so I could start sharing them with other people. All the subject matter comes from my personal experiences, travels, hopes and dreams. My desk has a typewriter and a red phone so makes for easy inspiration. I have an orange alarm clock on my beside table. Many of my friends have young children and so dinosaurs and octopus scenes always go down well. Everywhere I go I am thinking of an odd perspective for a new design. I actually have 100s in my sketch books. I just haven't translated all them onto the computer - give me time.

The best thing about my envelopes is that they are sent easily and mean that not only one's thoughts can travel, but so do the envelopes themselves.

Check out Benjamins envelopes on his facebook page


My REAL wall - 9 July 2011

Todays REAL wall features my first ever audio post. You'd think that in an age of multimedia that these "wall" things would be a little more media-rich, so I'm surprised it's taken me this long to get my first audio posting, and thanks to Hackman for this and the great Ska Man envelope it came in too!

Also on the wall is a number of pieces from I'm a superhero and can like fly and shit, from his Free Art Foundation and Zombie angles, and the first piece from Mabb.

Other mailart365ers on the wall include Katerina Nikoltsou, whose daring pencil shaving landscape made it through intact somehow all the way from Greece and excited me and Elena no end. Even more exciting, is the fact that we may be meeting Katerina later this year, as it looks like she may be paying us a visit, making her the 5th mailartist we'd have meeten this year!


My Extraordinary Imagination opens at The Penny School Gallery, Kingston

IYAF - My Extraordinary Imagination, on the walls of the Penny School Gallery in Kingston

On Wednesday 29th June, 2011 The Penny School Gallery in Kingston had a special preview of our postcard show, My Extraordinary Imagination as part of the Kingston International Youth Arts Festival. This show was the first to be put on with the educational wing of my REAL wall, which is called Schoolswaps.

The turnout was good, with invited guests from the local area including Robin Hutchinson, the director of Creative Arts, who are the lovely people responsible for putting on the Kingston International Youth Arts festival. He's the one below gesturing, and he's gesturing at Zoe Thomas, the person responsible for coming up with the idea of the show and getting the team together to make it happen with me, Andy Hoang of Schoolswaps.

Opening Night 3

The postcards were mounted on boards and hanging strings, roughly in age order around the gallery starting from the 4 year olds in one corner and going up in age to include some work from 17 year olds and included work from as far away as Australia, Germany and Korea among others. There are still artworks coming in to the IYAF offices every day, and the postbox remains open to entry for another week. We will try and get as many of the later entries on the wall as we can, but can't promise anything. However, I've heard a rumour that there is interest from abroad to show the cards on a wall in another show, so watch this space!

For those of you not able to come to Kingston who have contributed from far off countries, I've taken quite a few pictures for you to see. OK, I got a little excited, and actually took a LOT of pictures for you to see, but with more than 600 cards on display, make sure that if you can get to the gallery you do, as this is by no means all of them!

And here's me and Zoe with the address for you one more time...

My Extraordinary Imagination postcard at Kingston Penny School Gallery


my REAL wall - 2 July 2011

What an exciting year this is turning out to be for me and for mailart in London. I can hardly believe that this project that I started off just over 2 years ago has grown so big!

This week, Elena and I attended the opening of our THIRD mailart show in 2011, in Kingston. I'll write more about this in my next post, but we've been working hard on the show and on the website at as well as on the huge school swapping project I set up at so I'm falling behind a little on sending and posting here on my REAL wall.

That's not to say that I'm not still hugely excited about the stuff I've received. Far from it, and it's seeing stuff in my mailbox every day that fires me up to get others sending mailart.

This week we've seen some wonderful stuff in the REAL wall inbox, including a great big card from Elena's best friend and some ATCs that have come in for her from Swapbot pals. Elena is going through a huge Swapbot phase at the moment, and is signed up for about 15 so if you're on Swapbot and involved in papercrafts, watch out!

Mailart has come in from mailartists from far and wide. Some names on the wall this week are Farmageddon from Petaluma, Pierpaolo from Italy, who is a fellow 365er, Strenikov, Maygirl from Sendsomething, Mary England, Madmadge, mabb, Molly from Australia and Hope.

There are some great mailart projects in there, do click on some of the links and see them. I love Hopes project, The instant storybook at - it's an 8 picture story done in collaboration with someone else on a postcard. Take a look at her site and see for yourself, as she explains it a whole lot better than me!