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Published: 28 May 2016

By Andy Ross

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A box of treasures

The Portable Museum of Curiosity has arrived! 

Joanne, the artist who made the box, met up with me in Lerwick for a natter and a handover of the box which I promptly fell in love with and carefully strapped into the front seat of the car to bring home. The next day I set it up in the studio where it immediately looked like it was home and belonged there. And you can visit it for a few months until we have to return it. 

The box is, like the previous one we borrowed, telling a story through plants but this time it is a story about whaling. Shetland was a whaling nation and men went to the whaling until the 1960's when the practice was banned in the UK. But one of the unexpected legacies of this trade was a flower, the Magellan Daisy, that the men may have brought back with them from South America. 

In Shetland the flower is known as the "Australian daisy" and a patch of it grows near the studio. It is a strong robust plant with large flowers and until I met Joanne I knew very little about it. Now we have a box which explains how the plant could have gotten to Shetland, and a whole lot more about the whaling industry which was the carrier of these flowers. 

Joanne's Portable Museum is full of drawers and tabs, hinged flaps and secret sounds. If you visit be sure to pull open the drawers and press the buttons. It is designed to be used, including by little fingers. Children will be fascinated by the things like ships biscuits and ropes which lie in cavities inside the box. We will definitely have the Museum until the autumn and may even have it for longer so do come and visit it. And thanks Joanne. It is a fantastic thing to have here.