In this digital age, the world needs Artists, Writers and Photographers now more than it ever has before.
In my attic, there is a box, which is covered in dust. It’s a box full of old letters. And I don’t mean the kind that you type out and print. I mean the handwritten kind. And for some reason, I kept every single letter I ever received. Now I realise just how precious those letters actually are, since the handwritten letter is now almost a thing of the past! And did I ever keep an email? Nope! As soon as I have read an email and responded, they are deleted.
So what is it about a handwritten letter that compels me to keep it and yet I find it so easy to press the delete button on an email without a second thought? The fact is, some effort has gone in to it. It seems almost like an art in itself to me. And for some reason, it holds a kind of connection that an email never could.
Preserving our History
I have another box in my attic, also covered in dust. It’s a box full of old photos; photos which once in a blue moon I get out and look through. They document my life and those around me. From bad perms to poor fashion… from milestones to madness… Every photo documents a moment in time to be looked back on in years to come.
But I also know that my parents have similar boxes in their own attic, only they have three. One, full of old letters written back in the 40’s, another, full of black and white photos of their own young lives and those of their parents…. And a third box, this time of drawings that I did as a child and better still, even some that my Mum drew too. How precious is that? One day I will be looking through them, thankful that they wrote with a pen, drew on paper and printed their photos.
What’s the big deal?
What’s the big deal? You might ask. After all, we now have digital photos, right? Well, yes we do. But what do you do with them? Put them on Facebook? At best put them on a stick? Well, it’s a lot harder to lose a photo album than a USB stick and who really knows where our photos will end up when Facebook/Instagram has run its course?
And now, of course, there is ‘Digital Art.’ And there is nothing wrong with that. But let’s not let it take over the sketchbook… the kind you can open and touch. The one where you can feel the marks and smell the pages. The one where you can see the grubby charcoal fingerprints and see the mistakes.
And can you remember the last time you received a handwritten letter? The excitement of trying to work out who’s handwriting it was on the envelope? Studying the stamp for a clue as to where it had come from?
If we let the handwritten letter, the printed photo and the sketchbook become a thing of the past, what will our own children have to find in our attics when we’re gone? A bunch of USB sticks (if they are lucky)? An old iPad which no longer works? Some printed emails???
The world really does need your art now more than ever. So whether you draw it, write it or print it out, you are doing your bit to preserve our own little bit of history for our future generations.