Little P scatters toys randomly around every room in the house. I sporadically find tiny figures in the cupboards, crayons in my shoes and playing cards in my bag. Sometimes when she is franticly looking for her wooden mermaid that she left in a mystery location yet again it can be infuriating. But last month I started thinking about a time when she won’t be leaving a trail of toys everywhere and I’ll be remembering that little wooden mermaid with misty eyed nostalgia. So, I had the idea of creating a memory box of her favourite toys. The toys that will trigger all the memories for me (and hopefully for her too!) when she is older.
Memory boxes, or shadow boxes, are very easy to create. They originated from the boxes that sailors used to carry their personal belongings from boat to boat or ship to ship many years ago. These boxes were imbued with a great sense of superstition and reverence. Once sailors passed away their family or friends were reluctant to remove the objects from the box and they were often put on display in pubs or taverns. The box was considered to contain the essence of the owner’s life. All their worldly possessions.
My memory box for Little P’s childhood is currently only a temporary work in progress. She’s nowhere near ready to hand over these toys yet! But I selected an old wooden toy box in yellow (her favourite colour) for the finished piece. The selected toys will be fixed inside the box using a combination of fishing wire and glue. The arrangement of the pieces just happens naturally once you begin to assemble. It’s almost like they find their own place in the box. Once completed it will be a piece of permanent art. A forever reminder of a special time built from objects that could have been sadly discarded.