The Atossa Press is a new mentoring project, connecting an international artist(s) with an undergraduate student studying Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth (UK). Through the slow correspondence of letter writing, the artist will take on the role of an invisible & silent mentor, guiding the student through a series of tasks & engaging in discussions about their work interests, contextual references, shared concerns, hopes & dreams.
The project responds to the over-saturation of digital communication, which has been particularly heightened within the context of the global lockdown; instead favouring the slow correspondence of hand letter writing & the irregular rhythms of the international postal service.
Around 500 BCE, the Persian Queen Atossa (meaning ‘skilled or learned’) is cited to have sent the first recorded handwritten letter. What was communicated & to whom can only be speculated upon, however fragments of preserved manuscripts from the ancient historian Hellanicus testify to the event.
Throughout history, letters & stories have been inscribed on clay, stone, the leaves of plants and the bark of trees; the linden tree with its pliable bark was particularly suitable for folding. Papyrus, a pithy, paper-like material became so popular that a shortage in the West led to the production of parchment & vellum, made from the stretchy membrane of animal hide. Paper today is mostly produced industrially, by chemically processing, squeezing & pressing cellulose fibres derived from wood, rags, grasses or other vegetable sources, through a fine mesh, which is pressed & dried.