Steven how did you decide what to pull out of the archives for the show? Did the size limitations impact on your decisions?
Size was a big consideration and also the condition of the material. We didn’t want to include really fragile material. We would have liked to include some catalogues with reproductions of Pat Larter’s mail art, but these were too large. We chose a variety of works representing Pat’s practice, including photographs, objects, etc.
From researching online I can see there are 48 boxes in the Larter Archives. What else is in there? What is your favourite item in the collection?
There are many pieces of mail art from artists all over the world, things that were sent to Pat or that she collected. I really like the works from artists working behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ at the time, as they were often quite severely censored in the public sphere, but could express themselves as they liked through the mail. Perhaps one of my favourite pieces by Pat is the ‘feminist bra’. Your exhibition had a photograph of Pat wearing this. We have the original bra in the archive. It is a clever and humorous work typical of Pat.
You have said this archive is the largest collection of Mail Art in Australia, are there others you know of?
Some of the artists involved have collections. Terry* would have a good idea of this. Also some museums have small collections which they have accumulated over the years.
You organised a mail art exhibition from the Pat Larter archives at the Art Gallery of New South Wales Research Library in 1999 can you tell us more about this?
This was a few years after Dick Larter donated Pat’s own archive and her mail art collection. I was so impressed with what was included that I wanted to let people know about it. Bruce James, then an art’s writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote a major review of the show, which was pretty good for an exhibition in our archive.
Did you ever meet Pat or were you aware of her work before working at the archive?
Yes I did meet Pat at Watters (gallery) a few times. She was an exceptional person and very much loved by all her friends. I knew Dick quite well also. I approached Dick about their archives as I had enormous admiration for them both as artists.
Any upcoming projects that you’d like to share?
Some works from Pat’s archive are currently included in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW entitled See you at the Barricades. The younger curators are very interested her mail art archive. Also within a week we will put up online a complete listing of Pat’s archive. This will let people know just what is included in those 48 boxes.
*Terry Reid -interview coming soon on Mailbox Art Space blog.
Steven is Head of the Edmund and Joanna Capon Research Library and Archive at the Art Gallery of New South Wales you can find out more about the library and archives here: