A RUDHEATH couple have put their globetrotting archive of mail art on display in Manchester.

For half a century, artist Michael Leigh has been creating, sending, receiving and collecting mail art – small-scale works sent through the post.

The extensive archive he has amassed with his wife, fellow artist Hazel Jones, includes worldwide correspondence with more than 50 artists.

The collection encompasses envelopes, rubber stamps, zines, catalogues, badges, artistamps, artist trading cards, add-to and pass-on books, collaborative and posted objects.

Having been stored in a garden shed for years before it was finally sorted through, it is now on show as part of an exhibition at Manchester Metropolitan Universit – where Hazel works as a lecturer.

Michael explained: "The archive started in the 1960s when, as an art student in Manchester, I began decorating the envelopes sent to friends in other art schools around England with collage, rubber stampings and crude drawings."

Michael was unaware at the time that the late American artist Ray Johnson had started up the New York Correspondence School and was exchanging artful gifts through the postal system.

Michael added: "My involvement with mail art grew when, in 1980, I discored the International Mail Art Network and was astounded to find so many like-minded individuals around the world who were exchanging art through the post."

Michal and Hazel met 'through the mail' in 1983.

The collection amounts to thousands of items, with letters from the USA, China and Russia as part of an international network of professional 'pen pals' exchanging work.

The exhibition has been specially curated by the pair, and runs until April 3.

It is based at the Special Collections Gallery, on the third floor of the All Saints Library at Manchester Metropolitan University, M15 6BH.

Admission is free between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, and from noon to 4pm on Saturdays. Call 0161 247 6107.