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10th October 2011

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Harriot Allsop investigates the latest in interactive throwbacks

The Postal Project Tour is a UK touring postal exhibition that was displayed within our very own John Ryland’s Library in Deansgate last week. Jade Blood and Melanie Alexandrou, the curators, warmly invite visitors to become a mail-artist as part of their ever-expanding project. The Project encourages post enthusiasts to collect addresses of people they wish to mail-swap with and then create their own postal art in the ‘mail-making section.’ And this all in the spirit of the Free for the Arts festival, a weeklong series of events that seeks a unique and meaningful experience with its audience, asking nothing from them except participation and engagement.

Walking in and out and the various nooks and crannies of the Library, along the Hogwartsian corridor beneath the fan-arches, the Postal Project leaps out in its surprising location just before one enters the Reading Room for long hours of post-less labour. And participating in this surprise visitor encapsulates that special feeling you get when a hand-written letter comes clattering through the post-box a hundred times-fold. There are various homemade stamps, empty postcards, pieces of scrap paper, a real authentic typewriter all just inviting you in to create. The project is ‘interactive’ without the touch-screens and computers and graphix that we’ve all come to associate with the word. The main focus of the exhibit is the pin board, filled endlessly with smile-inducing postcard art. The whole exhibition offers up a sense of community and personality through the ancient art of handwritten mail, and all this achievable simply through leaving your stamp (apologies for the pun) on the Postal Project.

The Postal Project is the perfect medium through which to creatively connect people from a distance, without relying upon the, dare I say, impersonal nature of the internet. So if you’re meandering around Deansgate, chatting to your friends on your interactive Blackberry and you spy John Ryland’s, take a look inside. You might just be inspired to become part of the Postal Project.

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