During her residency at the Midlands Art Centre in Birmingham, Amy McCranor explored handwriting, poetry, romanticism, analogue techniques and indie publishing, sowing the seeds of an idea that grew this year to become Woe Is She stationery.
I've always been a pen and paper sort of woman, so Amy's thoughts on letter writing really resonate with me, especially when she talks about the relationship between head, heart and hand.
Letter writing has an inherent romanticism. It is so easy, so tempting, to imagine oneself discovering a hidden, dust covered box of love letters or secret correspondence, kept hidden for years - waiting to be discovered.
They come back to life when their words are read. They can overcome the reader with aching nostalgia and longing. Longing for another time, another place; memories and emotions may be lost, but their records remain.
The tactility of letter writing is what makes it so powerful. Putting pen to paper, pouring thought and feeling through ink is visceral and meaningful. You share your handwriting, something so personal and intimate, with another.
Every niche and idiosyncrasy engraved, etched into paper to be read over and over. The medium is infused with heart, and executed with the hand.
If this sounds overly romantic, maybe that is because it is necessary to persuade its benefits; for what is arguably an antiquated format may be more needed now than ever.
In a time where we're chronically reeling and closed off in our own minds, the mindfulness of handwriting reunites us with our bodies. Our temporary and insincere digital communication is made tangible and permanent in a different way - it requires care and intention to retain it here with us, rather than up in the cloud.
It forces us to slow down in a way that is sorely missing from our modern lives, as well as ritual and intentionality.
Woe is She stationery is designed with all this in mind, with its three founding principles being romanticism, analogue and slow practices.
Including hand calligraphy and stamping, analogue processes are prioritised over digital as much as possible.
Quality tactile materials encourage touch and care, with elegant and classic design inviting writing and re-readability.
Sending, and receiving, hand written letters is a truly unique yet sadly forgotten art unlike any other - there is a reader waiting to receive this most treasured correspondence.
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