At Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Arts and Crafts Museum

Wish boxes

Semi-grand piano, C R Ashbee and John Broadwood & Sons, 1898-1900When this piano is all closed up it is a very plain box on legs but when you open up the front to see the black and white keyboard and then lift the lid, you will be amazed.

The man who designed this piano was called C R Ashbee and inside there is a very long poem painted along all the edges about the composer Beethoven. Ashbee had made the piano for his new wife Janet who loved music and there is a little message about the gift right at the back of the lid. Janet did have to wait two years before she got her wedding present though!



The picture painted under the lid is of people standing in front of a city with huge sun rays spreading out. Ashbee's friend, Walter Taylor did all the painting in beautiful colours, although these have faded over time. Ashbee even designed the hingesĀ  in the shape of an ash tree and a bee, just like their name.

If you were going to make a wish box what sort would you design? Who would it be for and what would you put inside? Would it have words on the outside or secretly on the inside? Would it be plain or decorated, how would it open and where would it be kept?

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