13 March 2012

Blue Penny Museum

Emmanuel Richon
Curator, Blue Penny Museum

26 February 2012

Dear fellow Mauritians, at home and abroad, and
all lovers of art

The Blue Penny Museum is celebrating its tenth
anniversary this year. To mark the occasion the Museum will be organizing a wide-ranging
exhibition of folk art that will revolve around our world-famous philatelic heritage,
the Mauritius ‘Post Office’, Blue and Red Vermilion, stamps

These two philatelic jewels are admired by
collectors from around the world, and so afford incredible visibility to our
country without us realizing it. A square centimetre apiece, they represent
three centuries of European engraving and are an unparalleled symbol of postal
history in colonial times.

You may be surprised to learn that philately is
in fact far more popular in the world than football. According to the famous philatelic
firm, Stanley & Gibbons, China alone has over 60 million philatelists! The
postage stamp is a worldwide product whose use is part and parcel of our daily
lives. So, we can easily say that our two stamps are in fact the pinnacle of a
vastly popular art form. Their aesthetic value is almost iconic.

The Blue Penny Museum is the only place in the
world where the two jewels can be seen by the public on a daily basis. It is
thus duty-bound to bring these stamps closer to the local population, and, in so
doing, celebrate our chance of possessing the most sought-after philatelic
objects in the world. Showing these stamps as part and parcel of our national
heritage is a challenge that will enable the museum to serve as a link between a
supposedly elitist art culture and contemporary artists. The solution to this challenge
can be resumed in a single idea: MAIL-ART.

Mail Art or Postal Art is a form of art that
combines the basic elements of postal correspondence with the major artistic disciplines.
The term encompasses artistic creations travelling uncovered through the Post Office,
with their address and stamp being cancelled in the normal way. In fact, a
proper definition of the term Mail-Art requires quite simply a better
understanding of such key words as popular,
simple, daily, diverted, free, international.

We are therefore, inviting you to express
yourself through a popular art form, which, by the mere fact of its passing
through the postal system, receives the seal of official approval. Let us thus express
our Mauritian culture in a multitude of forms through a simple artistic
envelope defined according to the choice and format of the artist, but with one
fundamental constraint, namely:

The compulsory journey
through the postal service to reach the museum.

Each artist is free to create as many artworks
as they wish. Depending on the number of entries received, we will set up a
temporary exhibition at the museum to create a cultural event around the works
sent through the postal service.

Apart from one major constraint mentioned
above, the choice of subject remains totally free, humour, politics, diversion,
cartoons, abstract. All means are good to pool our views on the postal mode,
and at the same time, create an extraordinary cultural event.

Each work/envelope will be exposed on the front
side. Packages are also most welcome, as they will give a three-dimensional
perspective to the exhibition. The only common point is the route through the
post office.

Since none of the
letters or packages will be opened, given that their content is not important,
the sender’s details should appear on the letter or package.

Upon receipt, the Museum reserves the right to
select the works to be exposed, not for censorship purposes, but rather to
ensure fairness between the exhibitors and also a certain level of quality in
the exhibition itself. It is to be noted that the works will not be returned to
the artists after the exhibition and the references sent by the artist will be
those used during the exhibition.

Should some artists want to ensure the safe
receipt of their works, it is recommended that these are sent registered post with
acknowledgement of receipt. It goes without saying that an item that has not
been received cannot be displayed. The originality of the art work or its
format should in no case prevent its safe delivery to the Blue Penny Museum.

Mail Art practiced on a large scale by many
Mauritian artists through a major exhibition dedicated to a postal art that is
admired all over the world is a cultural challenge that we are sharing with
you. Depending on the number of art works received, together with the
seriousness of the intent, the Museum will make a point of finding the means to
publish a catalogue for this occasion. Every artwork exhibited will appear in
the catalogue if the necessary funding is obtained. Entrance to the exhibition
will be free. We thus make a special appeal to our Mauritian compatriots
residing abroad to use this opportunity to express their commitment to their

All entries must be addressed to:
Mail Art Exhibition
Blue Penny Museum
Caudan Waterfront
Port Louis

The deadline for submission is Thursday 31 May

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