South College Street, Edinburgh


For my first postcard I decided to expand on work from my FMP at Foundation, ‘Post’. I was interested in the materiality of a postcard, as it is an object which is meant to be touched, felt, something which has been undermined in this project by the nature of the coronavirus pandemic and our lack of communal studio space. The commercial postcard is also often originally something of little value, produced in bulk and sold in tourist shops for often less than a pound. Value, in my view, is only added to these objects once they are taken by a person and changed, written on, sent, collected. I wanted to experiment with this idea of attributing value to otherwise unloved objects, as well as looking at my interest in place and material. Using the water soluble “sandwich” technique and a web of machine embroidery I combined pieces of detritus sourced from the street to create a postcard reflecting the nature of my address, South College Street.

I spent around half an hour collecting materials, using disposable gloves and freezer bags, and found the process quite enjoyable, peaceful even as I got lost in scanning the floor. The most plentiful items were cigarette butts, followed by a large amount of feathers, but there were also gleaming jewel wrappers, coins and half a cassette tape. While the process of collection was fun, upon returning to my room I quickly realised that I hadn’t accounted for the smell that I had invited into my space – largely wafting off of the damp cigarette butts.

The sewing process was surprisingly easy, this is probably due to the new, thicker water soluble fabric that I used for the two sandwich pieces. The machine handled the varying textures and heights very well and didn’t put up a fuss about being asked to allow freehand embroidery. Next time I wouldn’t trace the postcard shape onto the fabric in pen as this was visible after dissolving.

The above images show the piece after the water soluble fabric has been dissolved and it been given time to dry. After dissolving much more colour and detail of the materials is visible through the stitching. I am fairly happy with how the piece turned out; the process is both enjoyable and feasibly repeatable and the outcome mostly lives up to my idea of portraying the location through what is found there. I really like the variation in materials height on the back of the card, as I think the lumpy bumpiness has more visual impact than the flatter front. I would really like to improve on the thread used in the piece, either making it less prominent by finding a thinner or transparent thread, or using a less foreign material on the piece, perhaps by sourcing thread within the location. I could also ham up the involvement of the thread, playing into the lace-like texture and then the  juxtaposition of lace and street rubbish. I would also like to make the embroidered location name neater, smaller and more uniform.

The postcards final resting place – stuck to the side of one of the large bins on the street (around which I found most of the materials it is made from). The back of the card was still sticky from dissolving the water soluble fabric, so I was able to stick it to the metal part of the bin without extra materials. I hope it will stay there for a little while as a small piece of public art commemorating the street. In any case, it has been returned to where it began, and is out of my hands now.

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