a step back.

new ideas:

  • posters on the windows. take phrases from the letter and display them for the community to see. could replace with my own phrases (actually related to our flat ie. “greeny has come back from NI”)
  • developed: could change the poster every hour and update our neighbours on our lives, just like nanny updated avi.
  • leave letters on park benches/in public spaces for people to find
  • make prints/resolved images based on phrases. text layered with photographs? could even be made into a book.
  • project phrases on to the flats opposite my window? very Jenny Holzer but also very impactful.


artists to look at:

  • Alexa Hare (collage, text)
  • Kevin Harman (doormat project, community-based art, almost performative?)
  • Matthew Sawyer (‘hidden’ public art, ‘documentary works’)
  • Sophie Calle (almost like a detective, engrossed in other people’s lives)
  • Jenny Holzer (text art, small and large scale)


things to remember:

  • don’t worry about where it goes. don’t worry if it gets far away from the letter. make work. learn to draw a line under the sand.
  • do something fun. do something lighthearted
  • the simplicity and perceived ‘mundaneness’ of the letter is what makes it work. play with that.



Dear Nanny

Katie made chicken pie for dinner on Sunday and it reminded me of you – can we make one together when I’m back? I’m sure it would cheer Dad up. Don’t tell him, but I found an old Led Zeppelin tee in the Oxfam down the road which I’m going to bring down for him. 

I’m writing to give you a bit of an update about university. I guess this could all wait until I’m home but maybe it’s easier for me to start writing about it before I start talking about it. The truth is, I’m really not enjoying my degree. And to some extent, I think that’s okay – we don’t always enjoy every minute of everything. But sometimes I wonder if I only wanted to study international relations because Dad wanted me to, which makes it even harder for me to speak to him about this. I’ll obviously wait until he’s a bit better to bring it up, but I can’t keep ignoring it any longer.

In other more lighthearted news, Andrew took up my offer of him stopping off at ours for the last few days of the easter hols on his way back up to Edinburgh, so you’ll get to see him again soon. I’ll probably ride back with him too. 

Must go now – Tilly is nagging at me to finish washing the dishes (again). 

With love, 




Dearest Nanny,

So lovely to hear from you again!

I hope Alex did good job for you both, cannot wait to see the new kitchen!

Andrew is coming round again tomorrow – I will tell him you send your love. I cannot remember if I told you already, but he has invited me to his parents’ for Easter break whilst Mummy and Buba are in Seoul, so I’ll get my train ticket refunded if I can. It will be lovely to see Pete and Siân again. They got a new rescue pomsky recently that I cannot wait to meet – he is also the spitting image of Kasha, Nanny, I swear.

Send my love to Grandad, how has he been coping over the past week? Alex was saying he managed to make a cup of tea for them both which seems to be great news.


Ava-Mae <3




Dear Nanny

Pass on my thanks to Mummy for the Tesco vouchers – I cooked a lovely salmon risotto for the girls, and stocked up the baking cupboard. 

I have just returned from a hike up Blackford Hill, and will spend the rest of the day making a head start on the essay.  

How is Grandad? Has he managed to play any more golf recently? I hope Chow Mein is recovering well. 

All the best to the family, give the dogs a cuddle from me. 


an ordinary letter

letter transcript (PDF)

a letter i found in my new flat, between a student and her grandmother. dated from over 13 years ago, this correspondence provides a small snapshot of someone’s family relationships. on one hand, the physical qualities of the object are interesting, such as the illegibility of the handwriting and the way the text on the back shows through the letter. but even more interesting than its formal qualities is the story of the characters within the letter, and the way your imagination is instantly sparked as you try to envision these people going about their daily lives.

some initial ideas of experimental work include dressing up as the characters and acting out the letter, possibly making it look like a kind of movie trailer where the characters and the premise of the story is introduced; writing back to the grandmother (i could even send the letter to every ‘garden cottage’ in the UK); rewriting the letter as a screenplay, continuing the story of the characters, and making a short film about it; and even staging the moment all these characters come together (as is foreshadowed in the letter). there is definitely a storytelling/performative aspect to this object and i think i could have a lot of fun playing dress up and seeing where the story and the characters take me.