Picture Postcards (2012) is an artist's book; a one off bound collection of 21 of the many postcards I have received whilst living at Plumtree Cottage. Both image and message sides of the cards are reproduced in double page spreads.
These cards speak of holidays certainly but of much else besides and chronicle time passing in a blend of part photograph album, part diary.
With all collections it is the variation between the items which is interesting. The cards themselves differ significantly in size, image and the layout and typography used on the reverse side; no two the same. Postcards are not intended to be seen ‘en masse’; they drop through the letterbox singly and unexpected, unlike birthday or Christmas cards they are not usually seen in numbers. The reverse sides are more like pieces of art than are the image sides, being composed of a collage of different layers of printed lettering, stamps, postmarks and the handwritten message of the sender, built up during the journey from sender to recipient. The personality of the sender is embedded not just in the choice of image, words and message but also in the handwriting and type of pen used. A ‘saw this and thought of you’ certainly but also a gift.
In the same way that digital photographs are largely stored on hard drives rather than printed out and shoved into drawers any more, texts and social internet sites are replacing the sending of postcards. It is easy to see why. The space on the back of a postcard is confined, as is the space for a text message. The same message can be sent digitally, instantly and without the need to buy and post the card. But whereas the words might be the same, there the similarity ends; all of the visual codes, which enable us to invoke the memory of person and place are missing. So, too, are the historical records of stamps, country and place names, also embedded in the card through the captions and postmarks.
One problem with digitally sent messages, is that there is no original copy. An old friend used to complain about the disappearance of handwritten letters. People stay in touch, I would reply but now they send emails and texts. It’s not at all the same she would say and of course she was entirely right.