On 1 September 2010? I started a project called 'An Envelope a day/Une Envelope par Jour' that lasted a calendar year. Every day for a year I mailed myself a different, brightly coloured 16.5 square centimeter envelope. On the front of each envelope were different themes, images and configurations of stamps, pictures, posters, paintings and other collage material. Each Envelope was a unique example of what I call 'Envelope Art'.
The project had four main objectives.
First, it kept me busy on a daily basis, and that was no bad thing -- especially as the long, dark winter nights drew in. It also provided a little excitement every day as I waited for the postperson to deliver my mail. It also caused some anxieties, as I worried when there was a delay in the delivery of an Envelope – has it got lost? What's happened to it? Where has it ended up? etc
Second, it allowed me to explore the artistic and design potential of the Envelope. One Envelope is, well, just an Envelope, but in their tens, hundreds, and eventually all 365 of them, they become -- when suitably arranged -- a work of Conceptual (Envelope and/or Stamp and/or Mail) Art.
Third, this project brought me into contact with other Stamp, Envelope and Mail Artists in the International Union of Mail Artists. Yes, there really is such a thing: see iuoma-network.ning.com
Fourth and last, I was genuinely interested to see what the French (and other) postal authorities would accept on an Envelope -- why should an Envelope only contain a name, an address and a stamp (or two, or more), when there is a lot of space that could be (artistically) used? (I only used the front of the Envelopes). Remarkably, and whatever artistic and postal license I took with the Envelopes, all of them were safely delivered to me. So my thanks to La Poste of France, the UK's Royal Mail and the Dutch PTT for your patience and tolerance.
There were no "Return to Sender"s, but Elvis was, and is, of course, relevant:
I gave a letter to the postman,
He put it his sack.
Bright and early next morning,
He brought my letter back.
She wrote upon it:
Return to sender, address unknown.
No such number, no such zone.
Laid end-to-end the Envelopes would have formed a chain over 60 meters long – but in my Exhibition they were arranged in chronological order on 20 panels, and formed a brightly-coloured Mail Art mosaic. All 365 of the Envelopes can be found in the 'Envelope a Day' section of this website.