Tuesday, 26 August 2014


I was inspired by Joseph Cornell's  "Taglioni's Jewel Box" .  It is a romantic piece of work with hidden depths beneath the ice cubes, with an inscription of the moment when the ballerina is said to have danced on a panther skin in the snow, for a highwayman who had stopped her carriage. 

Having seen how Cornell worked I wanted to create something that might be considered interactive in an albeit limited sense, but as a piece of fun. I conceived the idea of a pun on 'box' by creating a toy box., situated in a diorama setting but without creating an actual room.  I went to some charity shops with my grandson and he helped rummage among the toy section for appropriate pieces, so it was a joint effort!

The items I managed to pick up all lent themselves to being "usable".  Wooden dominoes with images on them which can effectively be played with by piling them against the back wall, a plastic flute, a small ball, a beach hut with walls that can be moved and in the middle a little mouse who's tail you pull to get the arms and legs to flick out.  One of the Lego bricks is adhered to the rear wall and the other brick can be attached or not.  The only black object both in colour and message is the automatic weapon placed on top of the teddy bear 'box'  - a box within a box, repeated in the toy box itself, creating repeating motifs. I wanted the contents of the box to be considered as a reflection of the development of children generally: Love, represented by the cuddly toy, Aggression by the automatic rifle and tiny plastic sword, Intellect by the dominoes, Energy by the ball, Music by the little whistle, Exploration by the beach hut, love of Animals by the sheep, Creativity by the Lego bricks, Fun by the extending mouse.

I originally considered painting the frame white in similar style to Michale Buhler, but I liked the idea of red because it is an 'active' colour and remembered something that was said, I by Matisse,  that if you are going to use red, use a lot of it.  Having thought of Matisse I remembered his Red Interior painting which I have always admired and decided my Toy Box was going to be red.

The 'box' support was actually a canvas in reverse, which had a painting of the leaning tower of Pizza on the front, which I have left as part of the original object.  I used Artex to form the "frame" and stuck some objects to the "room" leaving others to be played with. therefore giving another dimension to the visual work.

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