Creating artwork posted through 10,000 doors in Blackburn, artist Amy Pennington explores the manufacturing journey of an unassuming everyday object – the envelope.
Setting herself at the heart of communities, Pennington makes people the core part of her practice. Often using such mediums as performance, drawing, film, events and conversations, Pennington works with accessible materials to bridge high and low art. Partnered with Heritage Envelopes in Blackburn, Pennington took inspiration from the manufacturer who produces 2.2 billion envelopes a year, to explore themes of work with the community of Blackburn.
Asking the general public to look out for the makers initials printed on the envelopes Pennington encouraged a dialogue between strangers, from the ‘return’er to the sender’. Usually a one sided conversation, questions posed to the factory workers explored the theme of ‘work’ and revealed the perspectives of the machinists. Return to Sender is a sensitive look at how to subvert a mass produced object to create an intimate exchange.
Pennington works collaboratively with people as participants or co-creators, often in non-art spaces including hairdressers, care homes, parks, and a working men’s club.
I’m absolutely amazed by what goes into making envelopes on this scale – the engineering is something else. – Amy Pennington
We are a sleeping giant that not enough people know about. It will hopefully highlight manufacturing as a career opportunity, letting people know it’s not a dying industry. – Mark Sears, Heritage Envelopes
Amy Pennington makes people the core part of her practice. Often using such mediums as performance, drawing, film, events and conversations, she works with accessible materials such as cardboard to bridge high and low art, while also having turned walls, shops and arcade machines into socially-engaged artworks.
Producing 50 million envelopes a week from their Blackburn factory, Heritage Envelopes is part of a global brand operating across 50 sites in 23 countries. Specialists in printed envelopes for business as well as retail stock for high street stores and people’s personal letters, the company is an undetectable presence in many households every day and offers a rich vein of inspiration to their artist collaborator.