Envelope @ Mailbox 141

My show at Mailbox 141 is up for just a few more days. Following the State Library’s curatorial example, I’ve had three changeovers of the show, so that all thirty-two of the pieces I made have had a turn on display. (A heads-up for writers – this week’s changeover is for you!)

With all the busyness of getting the show up, and then getting myself off to India days later, I haven’t had a chance before now to show you any of the before or after.   

Sometime in July or so, I realised that I was going to have to pick up the pace if I wanted to have work to show by September. Last Christmas, September seemed such a long time off in the distance. By July, not so much.  

My solution, implemented temporarily, was to get into the studio just before seven in the morning, work for an hour and a half, then come back after my day job to clean and set up for the next morning’s print run. Somewhat surprisingly, I loved this schedule. I was alert, the mornings were clear and calm, I felt I’d achieved something before the real workday had even begun. 

It was such a pleasure to be working on a project of my own for the first time in a long time. And as is often the case, after following a few unsatisfying trajectories, I found myself with an idea I was very happy with. It was a wonderful moment to realise that I didn’t need to search all over town for envelopes with security linings. I have boxes and boxes of letters sent by friends over the years – the designs all came from inside these. 

Mailbox 141 is in the foyer of Pawson House, a lovely Deco building opposite the Scientology headquarters. I love incidental art spaces. The morning I installed the show, a man was cleaning the glass front door and I brandished my Windex in greeting. As he passed by on his way to the elevator, he asked What’s in here now? It’s always interesting.  

As you can tell by the clock on the wall behind me, I was still unwrapping fortune cookies ten minutes before the opening was due to start up the street.  

Champagne was had and fortunes discussed. Twitter friends might be interested to see @virginia, @lucytartan, @artyfufkin and an obscured @sophiec discussing something serious. 

The studio was sparkly, the show launched. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to see it.


Oh noes! I’m desperate to see inside the boxes and read what you have there. What is happening? Will there be an edition of books from this? Are they bound or loose? Questions! I’ve got lots of them. I wish I could get to Melbourne, but it’s assessment time in these parts, lots to do. Still, this looks sooooo beautiful, very tempting to jump a plane…

Posted by ampersand duck on 28 October 2009 @ 12pm

Missed you tonight at the Zygote fundraiser: there was a letterpress demonstration. Also, I wonder whether you are the originator of an unsigned print with a rose on it has something that looks like your handwriting. Congratulations on the envelope show; impossible to get a feel for the work from the blog, but it looks like a nice space. All best from the (american) midwest.

Posted by halfclevelanddad on 31 October 2009 @ 11am

just stumbled upon your work from twittering about and realised I have sadly missed this showing Hopefully next time round I get to see. All Best, love your work, Natalie.

Posted by Natalie on 22 November 2009 @ 12am

Hi Carolyn, I was interested to see the article about you and the photo of you working at the platen press in the Age Nov 21 2009.
From 1951 to 1955 I was a maintenance fitter apprentice at Spicers, Moreland Rd East Coburg. Melb.repairing, amongst other things, several platen presses used for small run jobbing work. I actually bought an Arab platen press, surplus from Spicers, for 10 pounds. I got new rollers made, and bought some type etc, but sold it again when all my friends expected me to compose their invitations, and print them for free!! The buyer roped it into their car boot and left with the front wheels almost off the ground.

Cheers, Stan Gower

Posted by Stan Gower on 22 November 2009 @ 6pm

hi carolyn i am a printer in richmond . the company i work for has a large collection of old presses and letter press type. you would be very interested in im sure they would be williing to part with. feel free to contact meat my email.

Posted by joe demanuele on 22 November 2009 @ 8pm

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