Young and not so old take part in the WW1 Mail Art Project

The latest contributions (21st March 2014) to this International collaboration of Mail Art come from Charlie and Ty (age 7), Grace (8), Ellie and Connell (12) and PetrolPetal, a regular contributor to projects world wide.  The young people working with visual artist Michelle Wood enjoyed making the Mail Art and will soon be receiving some Mail Art in the post – thank you all for your contribution.

WW1 Mail Art

WW1 Mail Art

Mail Art

Mail Art

I met Dieter Lochle the other day in my studio at 36 Lime Street.  He arrived with his long standing collaborator Gavin Mayhew  It is always a treat to meet other artists, particularly from other countries.  Both artists will be exhibiting at Hartlepool Art Gallery in July & August. Dieter plans to make work that addresses issues around Reconciliation, Gavins practice responds to the work of Dieter, using non traditional sculptural techniques. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibition.

Its useful to see the work the young people have made, it makes me question my own visual response to this project and search for meaning and understanding. I am interested in unearthing the ‘hidden’ stories of WW1, challenging the mainstream nationalistic interpretations in the media and finding parallels between German, Belgium, French, African, Australian etc stories.

Mail Art

Mail Art

I like the use of the images here, I wonder if the young person who made this piece understands the significance of the picture of Lenin and the ending of WW1?  The Mail Art made by these young people is very thought provoking and the empty envelopes signify to me a vacuum in the current mainstream commemorations of war that killed so many people.

mail art6Poppies have such resonance with WW1,  the Peace Pledge Union use the white poppy to not only remember those who died, but to challenge the continued drive for war.

mail art5

Mail Art

Mail Art

mail art2

I think the map used here gives a good background to understanding why WW1 started.  Africa is carved up by the British & French (traditionally long standing enemies), Portugese, Dutch – by 1900 90% of Africa was under European rule.  This was just part of a general arms race by European countries in the lead up to 1914, military spending was increased, the industrialisation of arms manufacturing was beginning to reach its peak.

mail art1

PetrolPetal  presents a delicate response to the Mail Art project – this time with fine paper, instructing the viewer, ‘Handle with Care’, something forgotten during WW1 apart from moments that some would like us to forget, such as the 1914 Christmas truce.



Haiku poems from Guido Vermeulen

12 Haiku poems (in Dutch) for all that were killed during the wars 1914-2014, so for each month of the year


voor alle gesneuvelden van 1914-2014

en in het bijzonder voor de gefusilleerden bij wijze van voorbeeld

Ik zie haar wenen

de hartstochtelijke vrouw:

mijn schildpad is dood!

In de herfst sterven;

wat is er natuurlijker

dan een vallend blad?

Hij bloedde zachtjes

leeg naar een vallende ster.

Aarde schreeuwde dicht!

De oorlogsschepen

strandend op koraalriffen.

Het einde nabij …

De weerstand van slijk,


in het Vlaams, misschien?

Een brandende god

veroordeelt op het schavot

der geschiedenis.

Lijken spoelen aan,

lossen nooit het geheugen

op der getuigen …

Beenderen spreken,

het gebit niet verdronken,

roepend in de zee!

Woorden liegen steeds

in de monden van de macht;

maan herhaalt lachend.


lachend in de warmte

van sluitende hand.

Tegen de wanden

huizen stil de vleermuizen,

hun honger huivert!

Laat drogende oogst

is het lot van mijn ogen;

blindheid doet mij zien.


Maart 2014

Pub New Benfica

en discutant avec Boris

Mail Art in, from Hannover & Rossignol

Receiving a beautifully typed piece of Mail Art from Astrid Jahns made me think about the words used and the barriers crossed through sending Mail Art around the world.

astrid 3Astrid’s approach is no different to the collection, mainly visual pieces I have received as part of the project.  What struck me most about this piece is the opportunity to engage in the work in a different way, asking the viewer to create their own narrative within the framework of WW1.  I think it is beautiful and I will certainly find a place for it in the Mail Art project.  Thank you Astrid.

5astrid 4

Fabienne Gonay – I hope I am spelling this name correctly, presents a part of history on the outside and inside of an envelope.  Based in Rossignol, scene of a horrific massacre during  WW1.




Fabienne has the most amazing spidery writing, not only am I set the challenge of translating and understanding the information, but I have to adjust  my eye to reading the ‘hand written’ note.  Thank you Fabienne, I will read and re-read the information and certainly include it in the Mail Art project.  There are many stories and reflections unearthed during this period of remembrance.  A recent email from a German Mail Artist has raised the idea of Volkstrauertag – People’s Day of Mourning, a German National Day of Mourning is held in November commemorating those from all countries, military and civilian, who have died either in or as a result of armed conflicts. Or as victims of violent oppression and tyranny separate from a war situation. And it includes those left to mourn.  

Those left to mourn is an interesting thought.

WW1 Mail Art, Pecha Kucha at the Tyneside Cinema

A Good Yarn knitting group based at Tyneside Cinema kindly invited me along to their Tuesday evening session last week.  I had the opportunity to talk, ‘Pecha Kucha’ style about a WW1 project I am  managing with International contributors, such as Eni Ilis based Brazil  This superb photo collage arrived very recently.

Eni Ilis1

eni Ilis2

Mail Art made by participants at the Pecha Kucha.

Mail Art made by participants at the Pecha Kucha.

A Good Yarn knitting group had the opportunity to take part in and make their own Mail Art, contributing to the project.  The group meet regularly swapping knitting patterns, drinking wine and chatting!

WW1 Mail Art project has many contributions from members of IUOMA.  Guido Vermeulen, is an active contributor offering ideas for discussion and reflection, such as ‘Who sponsored WW1?’

1914-2014 Exodus of the peoples

Collage with original photos of 1914 (photo in bottom of the collage: exodus of Jewish people persecuted by the Russian tsarist regime, this photo has been translated into a painting by a Russian Jewish painter but I forgot who that was) The works I am producing now are collages and handpainted photos, orignal photos of 1914, published in the weekly zine Illustrierter Kriegs Kurier, Illustrated War Mail.  This was produced by the Germans in occupied Belgium in 3 languages (German, Dutch and French). I have a whole collection of these zines, heritage of my family in fact.  The paper is of poor quality and 100 years old. The positive side of that however is that is easy to paint on the photos.  Guido Vermeulen

Collages and hand painted historical photos.

Mail art out2

Much of the work I am making in response to WW1, is inspired by historical references from Hartlepool and is developing alongside the research I am exploring for the project Personal Histories,

We all have tales to tell.
Interesting snippets about ourselves, those around us, our forebears, our culture, the times we have experienced and the world we live in.
Our tales can be fascinating not only to ourselves but to others as well.

International Artist Book Exhibition 

Bringing together artists from around the globe to share their own stories in artist book form.
Sharing similarities, diversities and individual perspectives.
Highlighting the dynamic world of artist books.

Exhibiting at various venues in Australia 2014-2016