‘The Raven Artbox‘ and ‘The Shropshire Craft Box‘ were loaned to Mythstories museum in 2007 by Shropshire Council Arts Service. They were both originally commissioned by the Eric Robinson Arts Trust in 2005 and 2006 from artist Andy Hazell to tour paintings and craft works from the trust’s collection administered by SC Arts Service around schools.
‘The Raven Artbox‘ held a fascination for many of our younger visitors. A concentrated look would come to their face as they approached the large metal handle on the side of the massive treasure chest. Then they’d use all their energy to turn the handle and the ravens would clap their steel-can wings while the workings of the automata creaked like the calls of the huge birds. The visitors were transported to another place where strange and wonderful stories were possible.
In Mythstories museum in The Morgan Library, Wem the Artbox served a twin purpose; the interior of the chest acted as the museum’s exhibit store; and, most importantly, it played the role as a storyscape for the endgame of the tale of “The Treasure of Stokesay” meaning the story always ended with a loud crescendo.
Both automata are now in the collection of Shropshire Museum Service and can be seen at exhibitions on their sites at The Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, Much Wenlock Museum and Shropshire Museums’ Collections Centre in Ludlow.