This summer's exhibition of Joseph Cornell's shadow boxes at The Royal Academy was a testament to the delights of a box. I've rarely heard so many visitors at an exhibition exclaiming, even laughing out loud as they explored the floors and walls, niches and ceilings of these spaces. Usually viewers at exhibitions of 'great art' are more silent, focussed on printed, audio and the occasional human guide. I wondered why it was people felt able to comment so playfully and freely. Is it something in a box’s form, its openings, closings, conceals and reveals; in the drama of its narratives from Pandora’s Box and Portia’s caskets to hidden treasures and The Box of Delights?
A colleague of mine once told me that she collected boxes almost obsessively for several years. One night, looking at these empty containers cluttering her already crowded home, she concluded that she was trying to buy space!
Whatever the reason I have always loved boxes and making artworks with them only increases that fascination. I've blogged in the past about the fantastic narrative possibilities in a box, where the many faces offer a natural framework for a series of images. Recently, I've started thinking about those surfaces unfolded, flattened out into their net designs and have begun a series of BOXED BIRDS, exploring a process of wrapping a bird around the net, inside and out and the pleasures of working inside and outside the box continues!