Wish you were here! Conference celebrates the postcard

One of the postcard entries, by Paul Radburn, which illustrates a short story about love and loss and a museum painting

A lament for a long-dead hamster, a tale of gondola-travelling geese and a humorous SOS from a plane crash survivor at sea are among the weird and wonderful entries to a unique postcard competition at the University of Sussex.

The competition is part of a conference that celebrates the art of postcards and letters that includes talks and workshops as well as the competition to find the best pieces of creative writing produced on the back of a postcard.

More than 100 writers, artists, publishers and academics will be attending Picture this: Postcards and Letters Beyond Text (25-26 March) to consider letters and postcards as literature, art and cultural phenomena.

The conference, organised by Sussex students Katie Reid and Bethan Stevens, will see leading researchers share their knowledge with research students in talks, seminars and workshops on archive collections, fiction and literary criticism and art.

The postcard competition exhibition (Friday 25 March), run in collaboration with publishers Myriad Editions, is one of the highlights of the two-day conference.  The varied entries feature poems, short stories, original artwork and photos and humorous collages.

The entries were judged, by correspondence, by the novelist Nicola Barker, whose latest novel Burley Cross PostboxTheft  is a comic tale told in letter form. The best entries will feature in the exhibition, which will be open to the public, in the University's Creativity Zone. The winners will be announced on the day of the exhibition.

Katie Reid and Bethan Stevens organised the event through correspondence, as Katie is researching at Sussex and Bethan is lecturing at Nottingham Trent.

They say: "The art of letter-writing seems to be in danger of changing to the point of dying out - even sending a postcard is less popular than it used to be.

"We hope that this conference will celebrate the true art of letters and postcards as repositories of wit and reflection, revelation and original thought and that, alongside the competition, we can re-make and talk about them in new and contemporary ways.

"Judging by the enthusiasm of our competition entrants, the Postcards Competition and exhibition might become a regular event."

Conference participants will be able to join a Research Skills Seminar at Brighton Museum, Creative Practice Workshops for writers, talks and seminars. Speakers include Ann Dumas (Curator of The Real Van Gogh for the Royal Academy), University of Sussex professor and author Nicholas Royle and University of Sussex Professor of English and artist Marcus Wood.

The conference was organised with help from the University's School of English, the University's Doctoral School and the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Beyond Text programme.

Notes for Editors

 Home page image by Sarah Kelly.

Picture This: Postcards and Letters Beyond Text postcard competition and conference exhibition takes place on Friday March 25 and is open from 11am to 5pm. All welcome. Entry free.

For maps, directions and further details, see www.postcards-letters.org.uk

Competition held in collaboration with Myriad Editions.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £112 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,300 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

The Beyond Text research programme aims to support a multidisciplinary community of scholars and practitioners drawn from Higher Education, museums, galleries, libraries, business, policy, media, technology and the law to explore the ways in which communication is articulated, transmitted, received and controlled. It also aims to enhance the connections between those who make and preserve works, and those who study them.  Beyond Text centres on five thematic, interdisciplinary areas: Making and Unmaking; Performance, Improvisation and Embodied Knowledge; Technology, Innovation and Tradition; mediations; Transmission and Memory. These themes provide a framework to investigate the formation and transformations of performances, sounds, images, and objects in a wide field of social, historical and geographical contexts, tracing their reception, assimilation and adaptation across temporal and cultural boundaries. The programme has a budget of £5.5 million over 5 years and runs from 2007 to 2012.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Daniëlle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email: press@sussex.ac.uk

View press releases online at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/

Last updated: Wednesday, 23 March 2011