Return to Sender

‘To enter into dialogue presupposes equality amongst participants. Each must trust the others; there must be mutual respect and love (care and commitment). Each one must question what he or she knows and realize that through dialogue existing thoughts will change and new knowledge will be created’ (Freire, 2012)


This portfolio is a record of research into 7 collaborations artists undertook with a fellow artist or with others from differing disciplines. The purpose of the portfolio is to establish a personal deeper understanding of the terms used and the working practices and processes employed in the success or failure of the completion of collaborative artworks.

Using the quote from Paulo Friere as a thought catalyst it is hoped that a realisation will occur that communication or collaborative artwork will cause artists thoughts to ‘change and new knowledge will be created’.

(Fig one Archer and Et al, 2016)

Example one - Return To sender (‘Macao-Elsewhere’ (2010-2011), ‘Elsewhere: Home’ (2012-2014) and ‘Somewhere’ (2015-2016).

Return to sender was a 6-year, collaborative project between artists and students, split into pairs, separated by long distances. Using postcards as a canvas one artist would, without words, communicate to another, the other answering by return mail, completing the artwork. (Archer, 2016)

Reciprocal Interference

The term ‘reciprocal interference’ or mutual intervention is thus defined aesthetically through the lack of control in the completion resulting in altered conceptions and dialogue (Archer, 2020). The final piece being influenced by the initial work received as a surprising, finalized work to the initiator. (Livingston and Archer, 2010)

Hard Copy Communication

This retrospective way of communication steered clear of the context of digital messaging culture apparent during the period 2010 to 2016; the participants looked forward to receiving a physical, hard copy communication. The surroundings of each participant were often included in the imagery; this theme of home and surroundings bares relation to my current practice of using location and home as inspiration.

In Context

Archer reflects on the current restrictions in Hong Kong on student’s communication (Archer, C. (Ed.) (2014)).; this draws me to compare constraints imposed on social interaction and the resulting social isolation during the current pandemic.


Archer, C., 2016. Return To Sender – Collaborative Postcard Exhibition (July 1-7, 2016) – Carol Archer. [online] Available at: <>

Archer, C., 2020. Reciprocal Interference – Carol Archer. [online] Available at: <>

Archer, C. and Et al, 2016. A Group Of Postcards Sent Between Artist Collaborating On The Resulting Piece. [image] Available at: <>

Freire, P., 2012. Reading And Writing Reality. [book]Teynampet: Indian Universities Press, p.5.

Livingston, P. and Archer, C., 2010. Artistic Collaboration and the Completion of Works of Art. The British Journal of Aesthetics, 50(4), pp.439-455.


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