Well, we received 240 pieces of mail art, held three exhibitions, and created and released a new book. We also raised a lot of money for charity and launched MMA4. It was a very busy six months with several months of pre-planning! Mail Me Art: Short & Sweet (the third Mail Me Art) was a success and fantastic adventure.
All of the mail art for MMA3 was from artists we had invited to take part rather than doing an open call, with the artists also paying a small fee to take part. There were a number of reasons for asking the artists to pay a fee, but one of them was to make sure we could afford to get a copy of the book out to every one of the artists involved. We see illustration projects come and go all the time, with lots of them based around producing a book or item, and a some of them fail to deliver on their promises to the participating illustrators. Not that they want this to happen, but I’m guessing they run out of money and the cost of things like postage and actually producing a book isn’t something to be sniffed at. Would you believe the MMA3 project actually cost over £10,000 to run, not including personal expenses and time! It all adds up very quickly, especially considering MMA is still just a small personal project. Luckily we’ve been doing this since 2006 and when we say we’re going to do something we do it. A project like MMA takes a lot of trust on behalf of the participants and trust is something we’ve worked very hard to build over the seven years we’ve been doing MMA and running The Little Chimp Society.
This year we had three consecutive exhibitions. The first and biggest one was in London at The Framers Gallery in the Fitzrovia area. It was a brilliant location to have the London show and we’re hoping to exhibit there again in the future. The opening night was ram-packed with guests coming from all over Europe and as far away as Japan. The second show, only one week after the first, was in Hinckley at Factoryroad Gallery with our friends Inkymole (Sarah, Leigh and Graham). The Factoryroad Gallery is a private gallery, so wasn’t open to the public, which meant it was a lot less manic and bit more intimate. Plus there was the added bonus of homemade vegan cakes compliments of our host! The third and final exhibition was in our hometown of Market Harborough at the Croft Wingates Gallery. We showed as much of the mail art as we could (wall space allowing) at the last show, and it was good opportunity for the locals and anyone who missed the other shows to check out the work in-person before it was boxed up.
One of the things about the exhibitions this year was that I made an effort to say hello to as many of the participating artists as I could. I got photos of them next to their work (pointing at their work, much to their embarrassment) and got as many as I could to sign their page in my copy of the MMA3 book. I’m very happy that did this as it gets so busy at these sort of events and I always regret not having taken photos or getting signatures after the event. We also designated a pub called the Fitzroy Tavern as the place to go after the London private viewing if you wanted to chat with the mail art artists. The pub was less than 100m down the road from the gallery, it was a very nice place to hang out and I’m glad we did it.
Come back on Thursday for part two.