‘Reach Out’ – A Collaborative Art Project 

by Claire Hankey and Shilpa Agashe at the Clifftown Telephone Box Museum, Essex, UK

April 2024. 


The installation is a celebration of the power of ‘reaching out’ to others, particularly in tangible forms of communication. It seems fitting that this installation is within a telephone box, itself a symbol of analog communication.


The two artists have been exchanging postcards since Summer 2023, working collaboratively using their shared love of nature to inspire their compositions.

They met in person for the first time last month to prepare for this exhibition. The installation features a selection of their new, original artworks and a curated collection of postcards and letters. Some of these postcards and letters were generously lent by friends and family for this installation while others were sourced from vintage shops. While going through their personal collection of letters and postcards, collected over time, both artists realised how important these mementos were to mark personal and family milestones.


The artists also conducted a survey on the prevalence of written communication in today’s age of digital dominance and the impact of a physical note or letter on our lives. The survey received over 130 generous responses where people shared their thoughts about the role of written communication in their lives – whether it has retained importance or diminished in importance with the growing convenience of digital communication. The results of this survey will also be shared as part of this project.

Collaborating on these paintings, delving into our troves of letters and engaging with loved ones who graciously shared their handwritten histories has enriched us. Reading the survey responses, ranging from practical to poignant, have opened our eyes to various factors surrounding written communication – from learning disabilities such as dyslexia to social compulsions, loneliness and nostalgia.

Through this installation, we invite you to reflect on and explore your own life stories and connections and perhaps forge new ones by sending a note of your own!

We hope the installation will encourage people to to think about reaching out to others, whether it be to collaborate on a project (like we’ve been doing), to offer support, congratulations, comfort or simply get in touch.

The artists are giving away some original postcards to visitors and asking them to send them on, in the spirit of ‘Reach Out’. To enter, visit the Clifftown Telephone Box Museum and pick up a free postcard with original artwork in a stamped envelope. (Envelope for UK domestic posting only) Visitors are requested to choose only one postcard to allow as many individuals as possible to receive a postcard and send it on.

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