Open the box – it's full of surprises

PUBLISHED: 14:02 04 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:05 20 February 2013

Andy Hammond - Thinking Outside The Box

Andy Hammond - Thinking Outside The Box

Artist Annie Gunning reviews Art in a Box at One Church Street Gallery in Great Missenden.

Artist Annie Gunning reviews Art in a Box at One Church Street Gallery in Great Missenden

When I visited Art in a Box at One Church Street Gallery, shortly after it opened, I allowed three quarters of an hour to view the show. An hour and a half later I was still there, enthralled and giggling. And I was not alone.

Art in a Box presents the best entries to a nationwide open submission, for which artists could make works not merely in a box, but under, over, around, about or from boxes. The box touches every aspect of our lives from living and dying in them to rationalising and organising our possessions, and in Art in a Box, the artists have taken the concept of the box in myriad directions deconstructing and re-assembling the object and its many connotations in two, three, and four dimensions.

There are so many amusing and compelling pieces, I hardly know where to begin. So I shall start with the most impressive. A set of 4 boxes containing miniaturised scenes with dolls house size furniture and tiny monitors. Each of the monitors shows an animated film, and all the furniture and figures, both in the boxes and in the animations, are made by the artists, Shona Davies and David Monoghan. Once youve looked at one, you just have to look at the others.

Andy Hammonds 3D cartoon pieces, Watching the Box and Thinking outside the Box, which were sited in the window, had passers by stopping and laughing, as did Mary Rouncefields saucey tins Naughty Schoolboy Badge Collection and Lady Maths Teacher Teachers set.

Art in a Box teases with the unexpected: with artist Sally Chinea, things are not what they seem from her convincing Silk Cut cigarette packet, complete with ash and half-smoked cigarette, that on closer inspection is made of finely embroidered fabric, to military boxes containing a magazine of machine-gun bullets made from re-cycled curtain fabric and hand grenades from silk clothing.

Dorothea Reids work is about coral but the 133 pieces in The Travelling Museum are in fact porcelain and bone china sculptures. Saliha Elhoussainis Warped similarly confounds the eye when a curved chunk of styroform becomes a square box when reflected in a curved mirror and Linda Harriss 16 Archive11 pieces look like ceramic but are actually made form painted card.

Magical light boxes by Peta Lloyd and Suzie Gutteridge, Fiona Fennell and Paul Windsors intriguing photographs and paintings and drawings make this a comprehensive survey of all that the box can be and mean. Many of the pieces are exquisitely made, and on that cusp where fine art and craft meet, something new and unforseeable seems to have emerged.

One Church Street is not a huge gallery, yet there are 84 pieces on show and, thanks to Lyndsey Keelings inventive curation, it does not feel remotely crammed. Text, written by the artists, helps visitors understand the work. Well worth visit. Have fun!

Art in a Box is at One Church Street Gallery until Saturday, 8th October 2011

Gallery open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 11am 4pm

1, Church Street, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire HP16 0AX,01494 863344 email

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