A Mail Art History (Book 1). An Encyclopedia of Everything- The Expanded Version

A Mail Art History (Book 1)

TMail Art - A History - Cheryl Penn - An Encyclopedia of Everything

MAN! I had much on my plate and in the middle of all this decided to clear up and try catalogue the cut-up paintings I have done to-date. This was in part due to a collaboration with the title “Writing” – the 15th collaboration I have organized on Robert Heathers artists books website.

AND it was a task I had set myself a LONG time ago, but never completed. I am a natural hoarder (a Cancerian trait apparently) and this works in ones favour when making books.

I started cutting up paintings in 2011 when I needed to find a quicker way to produce Mail Art.

Mail Art - A History - Cheryl Penn - An Encyclopedia of Everything 1

One way to accomplish this was to cut-up paintings into post cards and send text, a piece of the image and a photograph of the full image.   All paintings are done on paper pulp – a gift from Anthony who works at Sappi. Paper pulp is PERFECT conceptually for what I was about to do. The sheets are either cut – 60cm by 80cm (some were a little larger in the early days, or it comes on a roll which takes about 3 men to carry – its REALLY heavy.  ”Pulp is a lignocellulosic (any of several closely related substances constituting the essential part of woody cell walls of plants and consisting of cellulose intimately associated with lignin) fibrous material prepared by chemically or mechanically separating cellulose fibres from wood, fibre crops or waste paper. The wood fiber sources required for pulping are, “45% sawmill residue, 21% logs and chips, and 34% recycled paper” (Wiki).

Mail Art - A History - Cheryl Penn - An Encyclopedia of Everything 2

This means it’s a product in process – it’s still going to be something else – something like my paintings. The completed painting is just the beginning of the work – its end is to be disseminated throughout the world and exist in pieces. I have used these sheets as mail art and all my book covers are made from these paintings. Having begun in 2011, (the Jackson Pollock was an old experiment, and not part of the ON-PURPOSE conceptual art practice), I sit at 78 cut-up paintings, some of which came off the roll. The Bridge for example (number 7) was 5 meters long by 80cm high. That’s MANY meters of paintings!

The freedom this practice gave me is an experience one can only have by DOING. And it ends up being quite compulsive. Some paintings were done on Mtheni board, some of A0 350gm card stock. but in the main, on paper pulp.   (Test for this book continues in Book 2).

The Library/Shelf Life Rod Summers/Cheryl Penn

The Library/Shelf Life including (VEC Publications)

Limited Edition of 5 chapbooks, 1 book.

Shelf Life.  Rod Summers:Cheryl Penn. An Encyclopedia of Everything.  Collaborative Writing.

Correspondence with Rod Summers (a conceptual artist from the Netherlands)  began via email on 4th December 2104, and according to my records was finished a month (abouts) later.   That’s quite some going! We worked together – that is, words/lines/phrases were altered as we progressed.   Its a challenging way to work for me, as different voices have their own tones/word and rhythm colours, and successful collaboration demands a sensitivity to this. We did another set of verses titled BOOK BINDING FOR PARASITES, but I will publish them separately as The Library fitted neatly on its own in the Encyclopedia of Everything format. Serendipitously, Rod’s VEC publication of the same poetry arrived on my door on the day I began printing my version. This spurred me to FINISH my chapbooks. Rod titled the two poems collectively Shelf Life – and I have used this designation as the overall title for both poems – and who knows – there may be more?

The VEC publication of our collaboration (THANKS Rod!) fits the Encyclopedia of Everything Format so both these versions will form part of this installation. Rod – many thanks – cheers – here’s to numerous other chapters in this Saga (to borrow from Helgi…)

For further information on VEC and Rods enormous repertoire see http://www.vecworldservice.net/index.htm

Shelf Life.  Rod Summers:Cheryl Penn. An Encyclopedia of Everything.  Collaborative Writing. 1

As Rod likes birds, his personal copy was tailor made JUST for him, while the rest of the chapbooks are made from a digital print of the Archimedes Palimpsest – a canvas I was going to work on as a scroll called (On Floating Bodies). The only known copy in Greek of this work is on this scroll. I think its better suited here.

For a full version of the poem see:



I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it

Part of  Blue Black Semantic and The Curious B series. (The Authentic Massacre of the Innocent Image – Painting number 78).

Cheryl Penn Asemic Writing

Blue-Black Semantic had been stationery for over 2 days, silently evaluating the person of Probability Theory. As a random subset of  Planes in the Boolean Fields, it was difficult to set activity parameters for further moves forwards (or backwards for that matter). The Continuum of Percolation was serving no one any good, least of all  Curious B.

That’s the difficulty with theoretical bounds of information capacity – the Grammar Rules were unruly and generally extremely excitable (something to do with compound possession?).  Further problems were alternative subjects and verb agreement – no wonder the Curious B had wandered off with a tattered and battered map indicating overlapping sets of realisations.

3.0 # 15 (Writing) Dorothy Orange

Dorothy Orange. Aleatory Verse by Cheryl Penn.  An Encyclopedia of Everything.

Dorothy Orange:

To recap –

Free Verse a·le·a·to·ry ˈālēəˌtôrē,ˈal-/adjective:

depending on the throw of a dice or on chance; random, relating to or denoting music or other forms of art (in this instance writing) involving elements of random choice (sometimes using statistical or computer techniques) during their composition, production, or performance.

These chapbooks afford me the opportunity to commit my words to paper and collation – to produce evidence that thoughts/notes/scribbles can become more than that. The point is not always to produce a work of excellence – how few there be of those, but to work towards one.   There are often moments of clarity, – like the last verse of Dorothy Orange which resonates with the disjuncture of existence I think we all find ourselves in. These verses for me hover between narrative and poetry – possessing the formal elements of neither. As I’ve commented before – I’m in no-mans-land right now – and I had the thought that those plowing the ground are not those that reap the harvest – I guess that’s how it is with many experiments. It certainly feels like that with my own.  For the full ‘poem’ see


Last Verse:

Dorothy Orange we were so SPECTACULAR                                                                                                             on supersonic skateboards.                                                                                                                         Come my beauty, rise,                                                                                                                                              though your underbelly                                                                                                                                                 lies exposed.                                                                                                                                                                Vodka anyone?                                                                                                                                                             We’re on our way to Mars                                                                                                                                          flying clockwork pieces

(Not Orange).

Dorothy Orange. Aleatory Verse by Cheryl Penn.  An Encyclopedia of Everything. 1