Sunday 29 September 2013


Boxes are both things in themselves and repositories of an interior world of artefacts, materials, sounds, social processes and so on, but also of the possible and the unexpected (which may include emptiness of course).

A museum is similarly a container in which a nation, a people, a locality creates a kind of chimerical patchwork identity

entrance Swansea Museums Collection centre

inside Swansea Museums Collection centre

Much of my childhood was spent in the family antique shop with its strange gatherings and juxtapositions of objects. For me, this was a personal and domestic, not commercial environment.

Hemsworth Antique Shop, Ripon

So it is the relatively intimate collections of smaller museums, with their sometimes less ordered narratives, that interest me most. They can be more organic, with a quirkier, wilder and perhaps more complex story to tell of locality and the human psyche. 

For example, at Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr you move effortlessly from a mummified head

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art gallery

 to an emperor penguin

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art gallery

past a cabinet of ironwork sample pieces, to the very first automated ballot box.

Secret Ballot Box, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery

The style and function of a box suggests an era and a locality as well as delimits aspects of a personal and social identity.

Freedom Box, Newport Museum & Art Gallery

Pay Box, Newport Museum & Art Gallery

I'm interested in the way this idea links with the image of the museum and gallery, each of which is also a kind of box, a repository of the artefacts through which a nation, a people, a locality tells its own stories. 

With warm thanks to staff at:

and to Arts Council Wales - see earliest post

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