This guest post has been written by London based artist Riitta Ikonen. We first met Riitta in 2008 when she installed a giant worm at our studio. We love her work and are very happy to be sharing her ‘postcards’ with you. The cards are now on display in YCN’s window at 72 Rivington St, London.
In 2004 a holiday project titled ‘Location Vocation Vacation’ called for mail art. One post card per week was to be sent as a document of experiences to Margaret Huber, my then second year Illustration tutor at the University of Brighton (Margaret’s thoughts on being the project’s official recipient follow below).
Around a hundred and fifty A6 sized cards have since been sent (and received) from all over the world. Hair, fish, a sachet of white powder, a piece of broken record, mossy bark… all dutifully delivered by postal workers. Only five cards have never reached their destination, (a few of those due to very poor crocheting). Margaret still receives mail at irregular intervals.
A selection of the cards have been published in the book ‘POSTCARD’ by Laurence King Publishing in 2008.
Sent as is from Exmouth in England.
Carved on a lovely afternoon at Fragrance Lake near Bellingham in Washington State in the US.
Christmas present red leather gloves.
I was very surprised to see this made it. The whole lump from Exmouth beach.
Chinatown, New York. The salesperson was very worried I’d eat these seeds unboiled.
See all of Riitta’s cards on her website: http://riittaikonen.com/projects/mail-art
Margaret Huber says:
Riitta started the postal project when she took part in a student exchange programme with Nagoya University during her second year at the University of Brighton. At the time, I was her second year illustration tutor and before she left for Japan we discussed ways to keep her own work going while studying in a very different educational environment. A postcard project that I had previously set as a summer project formed the basis of the idea as Riitta felt she could develop it further as a way to document her experiences abroad.
As the postcards began to arrive in Brighton I soon realised that Riitta was not only recording her experiences, but also using the postcards to test the dedication, patience and humour of the postal system. Somehow circumventing official rules and regulations, the safe arrival of a clear plastic bag full of suspicious-looking white powder, or a neatly sewn cloth postcard with my address on a slip of paper carefully tucked into it’s pocket, was evidence of postal workers who were willing to participate in the game.
Being asked to choose a favourite from Riitta’s collection is difficult. In the years since the project began I have received postcards from all over the world. Each is a new and surprising treasure in it’s own right, but is made even stronger and more valuable when seen as part of a series. Whether constructed from bits of hair from a recent haircut or a piece of tree bark found on the northwest coast of America, all are true reflections of Riitta’s creative ingenuity and her unique view of the world.
Riitta’s postcards are a reminder that sometimes, small ideas can lead to an amazing body of creative work. I feel privileged to be the official recipient of Riitta’s extraordinary ongoing postal adventures. The project is an inspiration to everyone who sees it.