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Cambridge artist Nathan Huxtable’s Daily Postcard Project has wide-reaching appeal

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Artist Nathan Huxtable kept himself very busy during the first lockdown by painting a different postcard every day and sharing them on social media, before sending out physical copies to people.

Nathan Huxtable by his shed from where he creates his artwork. Picture: Keith Heppell
Nathan Huxtable by his shed from where he creates his artwork. Picture: Keith Heppell

Nathan, who is originally from Scotland but has lived in Cambridge since 2005, started his Daily Postcard Project (#thedailypostcardproject) in March last year.

Throughout the first lockdown period, he painted a new postcard each day and, on request, sent it out to someone in isolation. He ended up sending postcards all over the world, eventually painting more than 100.

His postcards are now in a number of countries, including Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Iceland, Canada, the US, Scotland, Ireland and England. One has been taken by The Postal Museum in London for its permanent collection and another is in the possession of country music singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. Nihal Arthanayake from BBC Five Live also has one.

Moreover, people in isolation have received them, from grandparents in old people’s homes to friends unable to see each other. At the start of the latest lockdown, Nathan, 44, began the Daily Postcard Project 12 Months (#thedailypostcardproject12months), this time painting a new work each month and displaying it at the Norfolk Street Bakery.

A Nathan Huxtable postcard
A Nathan Huxtable postcard

Accompanying each work are postcards available to take away. The purpose of the project is to share art, keep people connected, support local business and to raise much-needed funds for NHS Charities Together.

Anyone who wishes to donate (suggested £2) can do so by visiting justgiving.com/fundraising/thedailypostcardproject. Each painting will also be for sale, with 50 per cent going to the NHS Charities Together campaign. March’s painting is Waiting in The Woods (Coldham’s Common), acrylic on canvas, available for £200.

Nathan, who works in the learning department at the Fitzwilliam Museum, began the #thedailypostcardproject12months project on January 1, 2021, and so far two paintings (from January and February) have been sold, along with many postcards, raising £360 to date.

A Nathan Huxtable postcard
A Nathan Huxtable postcard

Nathan is hoping to top £1,000 before the end of the year. “I know it’s not in the same league as Sir Tom [Moore],” he says, “but I am happy to be involved and sharing my work for a good cause while I am unable to exhibit due to the pandemic.”

Nathan remembers how he first got started in March last year: “I thought we’re all going to be at home and I’ll be continuing to work, but I won’t be at it as much. I was thinking about self-preservation and also about trying to do something positive that keeps me focused on my own work – and also something that connects with people.

A Nathan Huxtable postcard
A Nathan Huxtable postcard

“I had a feeling that I was going to spend quite a lot of time in front of the computer, so I wanted to try and keep doing something analogue, as it were – something real, something physical. I was really conscious that I wanted to do something positive.”

Nathan continues: “I guess the main initial thing was for people in isolation, so friends would say, ‘Can you send one to my granny, or can you send one to my friend that I can’t see?’ and that sort of thing. It just became this thing that I did every day.”

Many of the postcards are landscapes, Nathan’s preferred medium. “Initially, I started to look back through old landscape photographs,” he recalls, “which I’d wanted to revisit for a long time but hadn’t had the chance to because of work.

A Nathan Huxtable postcard
A Nathan Huxtable postcard

“Then I was thinking about some of the other techniques in paintings I’d been looking at... so some of them would take more than a day, and some of the more abstract ones I could do one or two in a day – so it was a combination.”

Mary Chapin Carpenter told the Cambridge Independent back in 2017 that Cambridge is one of her favourite places. But how did she end up with one of the postcards? Nathan says: “I liked an image that

she had put up [on Instagram] and so I did a sort of abstract version of it and tagged her – and she messaged to say that she would like it.

Nathan Huxtable by his shed from where he creates his artwork. Picture: Keith Heppell
Nathan Huxtable by his shed from where he creates his artwork. Picture: Keith Heppell

“It was just an image of a long road at her house, with trees either side, and I think I’d been listening to Stones in the Road, which is one of her songs. I saw her at the Folk Festival a few years ago, and she did mention about having links with Cambridge – and I think she likes Britain as a whole.”

Nathan was also approached, during the first lockdown, by the Elisabeth Jones Art Centre in Portland, Oregon, on the theme of #theviewfromhere. “They asked me to put a piece in for that,” says Nathan. “They had seen my work through my Twitter account and that was also really pleasing.”

Visit Nathan’s Instagram page at instagram.com/njh11/ and follow him on Twitter at @huxtable_nathan and @nathanhuxtable.

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