Postcard Letters by Jeremy Cooper
This is the last of Jeremy Cooper's installations of unused commercial postcards in London cafés, back at the first location, Mario's, where Cooper eats breakfast every day he is in town. The Saggese family have run their traditional café since 1959, a place of refuge for its many regulars, generously priced and full of talk and friendship. Following family tradition, in 1989 Tony Saggese renamed the café after his son, who soon took over and is still there today. Postcard Letters takes its place as one of the regular art displays which Mario encourages locals to mount in his café.
The postcards in these installations have been gathered since the early 1980s, when Cooper began the practice of buying at least two of every postcard he liked, one for keeping the others for sending. Since 1999 he has stored the saved postcards in categories, seeking out over the last decade standard commercial postcards in his favourite fields, while sticking to personal aesthetic preferences (e.g. unposted, no lettering on front, largely bled images, no postcards of art except portraits, no animals etc.) During April and May 2017 at Podshavers, the restaurant in an Edwardian milking parlour which Cooper co-founded in 2000 near his home in West Somerset, he will display all three thousand of the mint commercial postcards from which the London installations were selected. If you know of anyone who would be interested in receiving information on or images of the Podshavers project, please ask them to email firstname.lastname@example.org (the name of the restaurant was adopted from the cricket bat makers who used to work in the barn next door, where willow pods were hand-shaved to make bats).
These installations (see facebook.com/postcardpatterns) take place in parallel with selling shows of newly made artists' postcards, the first of which was The Postcard Is A Public Work of Art at X Marks the Bökship in Bethnal Green in February 2014. A second selling exhibition of postcard work by fifty artists, this time of pieces also from Europe and America, will be presented at Handel Street Projects in Islington in 2017. During 2015 / 16 Art Circuit arranged a touring show of part of Jeremy Cooper's collection of artists' postcards, culminating at Hestercombe House. Dated from 1960 to the present day, the collection receives a major exhibition by the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum in 2019. Provisionally titled The Postcard as Contemporary Art, this significant exhibition and catalogue will mark the BM's acceptance of Cooper's collection as a gift.
The café installations are not over yet, though, as several artist-helpers will now be designing their own postcard pieces - when these are done, a book illustrating all their and Jeremy Cooper's projects will be published, including café information.