A set of Postcards from before

About this project

More than nine years ago, I sat in a cold upstairs room on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, in Melbourne, and asked visitors to tell me about the places they’ve lived: loved, left and missed.

In return for stories, I promised to make something for each visitor. Something like a memento. That’s how these postcards came about.

It took me nine years to get around to making the postcards. I’d hatched and discarded so many other ideas for things to make. Nothing seemed right. What could be more than an unnecessary footnote, a distraction, from a good story?

Now (and, finally, this seems right) I’m sending fragments of those stories back to their owners – in their words and mine – as postcards from the past.

Maybe they’ll be sent on again as postcards, and find new homes. Or perhaps they’ll go into a drawer to be forgotten, or on to a wall where they’ll slowly fade.

2 thoughts on “About this project

  1. Madeleine

    “Was it really 10 years ago, dear friend? Say it isn’t so” I imagine an artist often wants to know what a person’s first reaction is to their work, and that was mine.

    The arrival of my postcards (am I right to feel a sense of propriety about this work in a way I have not felt about your projects before?) made me prod for reminiscences. I was immediately stuck by their disjointed words, and how they reflect what my memories of those times have become: fragmented. Was that the day you introduced me to Mario’s on Brunswick Street? Did we take the 86 tram? Was it the day after I had worked an all-night job, but set out defiant of sleep…nothing was going to stop me from tea and sympathy with my friend, nothing, especially not something as wasteful as sleep! How young were we then? How old are we now? All I want now is a good night’s sleep.

    I know you may not have intended this project to span 10 years, but as an accidental work of chronicle rather then current reflection, the words of the postcards seem uncannily well timed for me. We are of course far from having our journeys done, but paradoxically I feel old lately because of all the things I have not done rather then the things I have done. Is it not meant to be a figment of youth that one has yet to “accumulate” life moments to speak of? Isn’t aging suppose to come from having busied oneself with more rather then less? Are we not meant to fill out our lives? Are they not meant to become less “sparse”. Education, experience we have come to know, but endeavour and enterprise are bottomless vessels that never seem to be filled.

    In my cards you wrote of me moving to a new dwelling, which while a small place, was nevertheless unfilled. I told you it felt like I needed to “magnify” my existence, which up until then had been small like the child I was. Stunted by a noble, but inflexible education.

    Ten years later, I have lived in this place and a couple of others. I have been through the act of leaving, I have been through the act of returning. I have lived in other cities and other countries that I would call home as much as this one, mainly because they are as full or fuller of memories and meaning for me. Some places where I have spent but weeks in a hotel room, I find call out to me like a home because of the sense of living life that they evoke. Reading the postcards I find myself regarding all these places like “boxes within boxes”….each fitting into the box of things we label as our experience of “home”. I find myself wondering, hoping, that there is still room for more boxes within this box.

    Self conscious of the lack of creativity or artistry in my world, I always chased after your every new venture. Forgive me, but I won’t, can’t, post the postcards. I can’t let them be broken into pieces that never find each other again. I have hoarded away every little piece of your work from our earliest days of friendship. I got them out again when your postcards arrived. They were waiting for us to claim them, along with everything they represent. Why did I keep them? Maybe I thought their artistry would rub off on me somehow. Maybe I thought they would appreciate in value, not monetarily, but rather in the way that artifacts are made priceless by their time being irretrievable. Maybe I secretly and sadly realised that one day we would all be lost to each other’s company, and these would be the tangible proof of those moments that are now so fragmented in my mind…that they would help join up the words to allow us to resume the conversation.

  2. Pingback: Ruth and Pip, 11 years on | Postcards from before

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