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Artist Talk : Michael Leigh

8 July 2021 @ 12:00 - 13:00

Virtual Activity Virtual Activity


As part of the Correspondence Collective Restriction Exhibiton, this is the final talk in a series of Artist Talks, exploring the lives and practice of artists who use mail art within their work.

Michael Leigh

I have taken part in hundreds of mail art shows around the world, printed lots of postcards, little books, pamphlets, made hundreds of rubber stamps etc and made lots of lovely friends around the world.  
Michael was born in London 1947.
Growing up in Basildon, he went to Southend Art School and completed a General Course in Art before completing a foundation course. He enjoyed the time on these courses exploring painting, graphics, lettering, sculpture, printmaking, 3-D design, drawing. He enrolled into Manchester Art School to study a degree in Painting and Printmaking and three years later he went on to Chelsea to study for an MA.

After a short stay in France where he continued to paint and draw, he moved back to the UK and applied for an ACME  house in the East End of London. He got access to a pre-fab in Stepney to use as a studio and living space where he stayed for nearly 10 years. He was painting regularly and having exhibitions in London and abroad at this time, showing work at the Whitechapel Gallery, The Portal Gallery and Holdsworthy Gallery.

Rediscovering his love of collage around 1980, he discovered the mail art network and slowly the mail art took over and the painting decreased. He met his wife Hazel through the mail art network, and they had a son Archie together in 1992. The family moved up to Cheshire in 1998 where they have been ever since.
Seeing wonderful work by many mail artists, he has also enjoyed visiting the Schwitters retrospective, the Peter Blake retrospective, the lovely Joseph Cornell show at the Whitechapel gallery which have all had a direct influence/inspiration on his work.
You can follow Michael on Instagram @snappymickle or visit his blog for the latest musings on his work.

The Correspondence Collective

The Correspondence Collective started as an idea from a postcard-exchange took place betweenbetween two artists at the start of lockdown in March 2020; as a way of staying in touch and acknowledging the joy of receiving items in the post.

This swiftly evolved into a growing collection of postal art collaborations. After a couple of months we invited fellow artists to join this creative conversation and so the‘Correspondence Collective‘ was formed.

Their aim is to keep this growing group of creatives, both local and global, connected through mail art, exhibitions, podcasts and workshops, with theOpen call for miniature pieces of artwork inspired by ‘Restriction’ being its first.

The project is led by artist Amanda Lynch in partnership with Clayhill Arts, Somerset and has been funded by Arts Council England


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Working with Deborah and Michael was such a pleasure. They understood the project from the beginning, what the needs of the makers and our audiences would be, and acted as thoughtful ambassadors for the project when we were not able to be there. Every aspect of the exhibition and events was facilitated in such a calm and confident manner, which made my job of coordinating a group of artists so much easier! The whole event became a pivotal moment for the project, bringing people together in a way I could never have anticipated, and which has altered my thinking about the future of the project. Thank you for making us feel so welcome.


The weekend I spent at Clayhill Arts was a very welcome change of scenery to my otherwise urban setting. I felt calmed yet invigorated by the surroundings, and the accommodation was beautifully tasteful and very homely. The main space is wonderfully considered and very versatile - an ideal space for creativity and dynamic discussion. I left on the Sunday feeling energised and inspired by the experience of staying at Clayhill.


As a singer it has been one of the best spaces to sing in with generous reverberation and acoustics.  It is a space which complemented the type of instruments I was working with and the songs.


I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed being at your venue. It is a lovely and inspiring artistic space. The food was fantastic, homely yet unusual. I really enjoyed the day.


As an artist retreat, the venue at Clayhill Arts provided a warm and welcoming environment, allowing a safe and constructive space where individuals creative needs can be met. 


We were lucky enough to be able to take over the whole venue for a weekend, using the Granary as our base for experimentation, discussion and shared learning. The informality of the accommodation, and the relaxed surroundings, put everyone at ease and offered a space where cooperation and encouragement evolved naturally.


Everything was wonderful! This is a beautiful place. Thank you, we really enjoyed our stay.


Clayhill feels remote which is great but it also is close to Cannington which has everything, so supplies can be bought without travelling a great distance...I also really enjoyed that it is still a working farm, because it feels productive and there is such a lot of life around us which is very inspiring