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Dialogue as Art

This evening, thanks to my friend and colleague Natalie Shell, I learned the story of two Irish artists who have created an unusual work of art …

Here is the story in their own words:

In April 2009, we sent a personal, handwritten letter to each of the 467 households in the small Irish village of Cushendall. We hoped these unsolicited letters would prompt neighbourly discussion, spreading across the town, promoting community curiosity.

The art work consists solely of the discussion between the recipients about what on Earth these letters are, who sent them and why, etc.

Lenka Clayton & Michael Crowe

Owritingn their blog website, Mysterious Letters, you can watch a video news story about their venture and also see a number of the letters – in themselves also a work of art. :) You’ll need to be patient, because it’s a long page and will take some time to load – but it’s worth the wait!

A fascinating story that left me with many thoughts whirling around in my head tonight.

Encouraging folk to talk to one another as a form of art. I love that idea.

I imagined folk who previously hadn’t exchanged more than a word or two with one another finding themselves in longer conversations – connecting, speculating and wondering. I imagined a buzz of conversation filling the air across the village, helping folks make connection and find synergies with one another beyond their shared experience of the letters.  Like an electric current of energy travelling through a grid and lighting up the atmosphere.

But isn’t it kind of sad to hear some folk were ‘scared’ to receive a friendly letter because it was from someone they didn’t know?

I also find myself wondering how many of us actually know enough about our neighbours to personalise a letter to them – let alone to do so for over 400 people in our neighbourhood.

And how many of us take the time and trouble to hand-write anything these days?

But … creating curiosity, wonderment and conversation. From where I sit, that is indeed art.

How would you have reacted to such a letter?

Talk to me ...

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