Curious Things: A glimpse into the International Mail Art Archive of Michael Leigh and Hazel Jones
16 September 2019 – 3 April 2020, Special Collections Gallery
For more than forty years, artist Michael Leigh has been creating, sending, receiving and collecting Mail Art, small-scale works sent through the post. The archive he has amassed with fellow artist Hazel Jones includes worldwide correspondence with over fifty artists and encompasses envelopes, rubber stamps, zines, catalogues, badges, artistamps, artist trading cards, add to and pass on books, collaborative books and posted objects.
The archive started in the 1960s when Leigh, an art student in Manchester, began decorating the envelopes he sent to his friends in other arts schools around England with collage, rubber stampings and crude drawings. He was unaware at the time of the American artist Ray Johnson (1927-1995) who had started his New York Correspondence School and was exchanging artful gifts through the postal system with his artist friends and acquaintances.
Leigh’s involvement with Mail Art grew when, in 1980, he discovered the International Mail Art Network through an exhibition at the Greenwich Theatre Gallery and was astounded to find so many like-minded individuals around the world who were exchanging art through the post. He met Hazel Jones through the mail in 1983 and their combined archive has continued to grow.
The exhibition features a selection of material from the archive and has been specially curated by Michael Leigh and Hazel Jones, Senior Lecturer at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University.