SAM facilitates connections between young and old.

SAM is delighted to team up with local project I Wish I’d Asked to connect young and old in an exciting new initiative. Children are invited to participate in SAM‘s Wednesday morning virtual art lessons, and then send their finished creations along with a letter to a pen pal at a local retirement home.

Tackling issues of loneliness in our community is now more important than ever, with both children and seniors experiencing reduced social interaction in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. SAM and I Wish I’d Asked both run vibrant programs that strive to connect our communities, now with the added fun factor of snail mail!

“No matter your experience, everyone can get involved in this project. Whether it’s with a letter, a drawing, a wish, a message, a painting, a photo, every thought will be appreciated. All ages are encouraged to participate, there will be a pen pal for everyone!” says SAM’s Public Programs Officer Lisa Linton.

SAM Director Dr Rebecca Coates says “The idea of everyday kindnesses and little gestures that connect us with others is something that artists have often explored. SAM’s new project acknowledges a seminal work by the great Fluxux artist, Yoko Ono. Ono’s Wish Tree, 1996, invited people to write their personal messages of peace and hope and tie them to the branches of a tree. The work became a symbol for home in the face of natural and social trauma and disaster.”

“Given that our community can’t visit the gallery at present, instead, we are taking part of the gallery out to the community. Wishes and messages are being delivered direct to people’s own homes. This is about little gifts and everyday kindnesses.” Dr Coates explains.

So, how do you get involved?

Each Wednesday morning SAM will post a tutorial video on our website, Facebook, and Instagram account to inspire your creation, or you are free to come up with your own artwork. Send an email with a picture of your artwork with your name and postal address to to receive your stamp and standard sized envelope in the mail. Whilst we would love to send oversized works of art, it needs to fit in a standard letter envelope.

Once you receive your stamp and envelope from SAM, fill it with your artwork and a personal message to your new pen pal. Drop your letter into your local mailbox and wait for a reply!

Along with anticipation, one of the benefits of traditional post is that it adheres to health advice relating to person to person contact, due to the time frame it takes to be delivered. 

Stuck on what to ask your new pen pal? I Wish I’d Asked have created a list of questions to ask your new friend here:

SAM is working hard to bring engaging content online. The SAM Hub is our online collection of content for all ages and includes workshop videos, virtual exhibition tours and more. Visit or @SAM_Shepparton on Instagram or Facebook.