James Gillen and his father Kevin co-run an international community art and design project Mail Art. James’s dad originally had the idea of creating Mail Art back in the early 1970s (completely unaware in the pre-internet age that Ray Johnson had already invented the concept) and exhibited some of his envelopes in the Ferens Gallery Hull, where he was reviewed in the Hull Daily Mail with the headline ‘It’s nicely framed but is it art?’ (click here to see the 1973 article).
In 2013 (shortly after his retirement from a 40 year art teaching career) Kevin decided to commit his time to Mail Art and his son, James, suggested to create a Facebook page to build a community of artists working in the format. Since then father and son have built a large dedicated international audience, who send them Mail Art in the post towards their gallery exhibitions (the first two shows were held in Folkestone’s thriving creative quarter in 2014 and in July 2015). James and his father Kevin receive artwork in the post from a wide variety of countries, including Brazil, USA, Croatia, Turkey, India, Finland, Netherlands, UK, Japan and many more. As well as the physical gallery exhibitions, all the work received is also exhibited digitally on their Facebook online gallery.
James and Kevin Gillen are a completely non-profit project and their ethos is to continually build an inclusive and encouraging community of artists worldwide, inclusive of all levels of artistic education.
The project is always ongoing. So, if you want to get involved (either by sharing Mail Art work with your friends and sending to James and Kevin an email with a photo of it which they’ll upload on their page, or by sending your work directly to them in the post which will be added to their continually growing collection).
Click here to find out more about the project and how to submit your Mail Art work.
From Belgium, towards July 2015 exhibition (Artist: Servane Morel)
From Brazil, towards July 2015 exhibition (artist anonymous)
From USA, towards July 2015 exhibition (Artist: Care Hanson)
From Netherlands, towards July 2015 exhibition (Artist: Christine Van Der Burg)
From India, towards July 2015 exhibition (Artist: Pramod Patil)
James Gillen’s Mail Art designs
From UK, towards July 2015 exhibition (Artist: Jon Howe)
From the UK, towards July 2015 exhibition (Artist: Keith Bates)
Kevin Gillen’s Mail Art designs
From Scotland, towards July 2015 exhibition (Artist: Mohd Nidham)
From USA, towards July 2015 exhibition (Artist: Joseph Razook)
Mail Art Gallery
photos by Andrew Laferme