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Shoebox Art

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Will Gompertz | 09:43 UK time, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

David Bailey's shoebox

These images are from an exhibition called Shoebox Art. It opens on Thursday at the Haunch of Venison in London and features lots of shoebox bedrooms made by artists.

Mark Wallinger's shoebox

They are either replicas of their childhood bedrooms or contain allusions to their state of mind at the time. The artists are well-known.

Grayson Perry's shoebox

You can buy one at the auction that will accompany the exhibition [89Kb PDF] or you can just go and look at them.

I'm banned from playing out because my cousin was arrested. That made me very angry that he was arrested. He was arrested for fighting. We can play with our Playstations.

There are also some shoebox bedrooms on show by artists who are not at all famous. They have been created by young people who have been or are being helped by the charity Kids Company. It's for them that the artists have made their shoebox bedrooms and to them that all the proceeds will go.

My brother and sister are annoying and they threaten me. They threaten me with a knife.

These young people have had a tough start to life, a fact that is apparent when you look at their shoeboxes and the accompanying texts. You would have to be made out of stone not to be moved.

This is my old bedroom and I did this to remember it. I had a dog but dad hit it and its eye got really red.

Interview with Kids Company's Camila Batmanghelidjh on the BBC's Belief programme
Shoebox Art discussed on Radio 4's Midweek


  • Comment number 1.

    This is a beautiful use of art, across the spectrum. More please. Less of the tired modernism rubbish.

  • Comment number 2.

    Those last two are very sad.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    From professional artists, not very interesting.

    From neglected children, they open windows into sad worlds that we cannot imagine, but must try to change.

  • Comment number 5.

    the art world goes in circles..very seldom does anyone break out and provide something new and exciting. There are real people living in boxes, but not as nice as these...even the sad ones.

  • Comment number 6.

    In relation to the "professional" ones, they'd have to pay me to dispose of them before I would take them. As for the ones by the kids, I would pay all that I could just to make sure that they got them back.

  • Comment number 7.

    @Adrian - Perhaps this is less about the artists being interesting and more about them being interested. If the money raised from their pieces can help bring about some change in these children's lives then it's a splendid endeavour indeed.

  • Comment number 8.

    That has to be one of the most infuriating online galleries I've come across in a while. It's like a cock-eyed duck shoot! Can you imagine that idea catching on in the National? Like trying to choose fast sushi.

    Okay, some of those professional shoeboxes are better than others. Some a lot better. Some of them are downright Blue Peter on Friday afternoon. I think I agree with Adrian and I see Dan's point of view. Neil, I'm sure you're right too but it's a funny looking dance everyone's asked to perform just to give these poor children a smile.

    The children's work is something else. Profound. I wonder which idea came first, the children's or the pros'.

  • Comment number 9.

    More art like this!

    I've been working on a secondary school speaking and listening project at Manchester Museum with an artist called Naomi Kendrick who's interested in multi-sensory installations. We've used making art as a way of developing the year 7 and 8 students' speaking and listening skills. Then we worked with another artist, Matt George, to animate the spaces (or boxes). We described the boxes as 'sketch boxes' which could contain information and be added to.

    See here for more details:

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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