Black Boxes

Cally Trench's homepage
Mystery box

You are invited to peep through the hole at the strange, brightly-lit, theatrical worlds inside these boxes.

Mystery Box 1

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 1, 2009

Most works of art can be seen by lots of people at the same time, but only one person can look into one of these boxes at a time. It becomes a private moment; other people can see you looking in, but they can't see what you can see. Looking into these boxes is like looking into my head and seeing my memories and dreams.

The boxes are all made of cardboard, papier maché, canvas, acrylic paint, photographs and objects.

Nine Black Boxes, an exhibition of nine mystery boxes, was shown at Artwash in Oxford on 20th July 2009, for which they were specially made or remade. Artwash is an inter-art social occasion; this was its last event at the Truwash Launderette (Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford).
Four earlier versions of some of the mystery boxes were exhibited in six primary schools and Wycombe Museum in High Wycombe in 2003 as part of Surprise, Surprise!, an exhibition of contemporary art by 15 artists curated by Cally Trench.
Two of the boxes, Mystery Boxes 2 and 4, were shown in Control Room, at The Control Room, Bristol (curated by Rekha Sameer) in 2014.

Mystery Box 2

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 2, 2009

Cally Trench: While constant surveillance has sinister implications of control and loss of freedom and privacy, some people love the idea of being constantly watched over by a guardian angel or a deceased relative. When they narrowly avoid an accident or miss an aeroplane that subsequently crashes, they declare that: "Someone was looking out for me". It is deeply reassuring to some people that there is benevolent supernatural entity taking a moment-by-moment interest in their activities. This invisible but all-seeing power is an unequal relationship. Your guardian angel sees you, but you do not see the angel.

In one of these peephole boxes, my father waves a cheerful "Goodbye" as he leaves this world. In the other, my grandmother, surrounded by depictions of angels from art, reassures the viewer: "I'll be watching over you". However, here, it is the viewer that spies on my grandmother and the angels, and not vice versa.

Mystery Box 3

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 3, 2009

Mystery Box 4

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 4, 2009

Mystery Box 5

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 5, 2009

Mystery Box 6

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 6, 2009

Mystery Box 7

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 7, 2009

Mystery Box 8

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 8, 2009

Mystery Box 9

Cally Trench
Mystery Box 9, 2009

Nine Black Boxes

Cally Trench
Nine Black Boxes, 2009
at the Truwash Launderette, Oxford, 2009

Control Room

Cally Trench
Goodbye! and I'll be watching over you, 2009
at the Control Room, Bristol, 2014

Cally Trench's webpage