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This large walnut-framed Memory Box commission, displays a collection of sentimental keepsakes to celebrate the lives of John and Edna Ferguson.

“In 2020, when I was clearing out my parents' home following my father’s death, I kept on finding little objects that spoke of their long and varied lives together, objects that to most onlookers are pretty mundane, but brought memories of earlier times flooding back to me with resounding echoes of my childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Pippa has taken these objects and sympathetically created a wonderful memory box that conjures my Mum and Dad's 70-year life together, their individuality, their tragedies, their triumphs, their love and their separations, brought about by traumatic world events and my father’s job. A little slice of John and Edna lives on in this box and shines out to the generations to come who, I hope, will love it as much as I do.”

Fiona, a retired editor living in East London, contacted me after the death of her parents as she wanted to celebrate their lives, their milestones and the treasures they had collected with a large, bespoke Memory Box. Her mother and father had lived a full and loving life together, travelling the world for her father’s work during the course of their 70-year marriage. I loved hearing the stories of all the countries they had lived in and seeing all the fascinating artefacts they had collected along the way.


As Fiona lived very near me, we began the process by meeting to look through her box of treasures. We discussed the items that held the most significance and were “must haves”, and made sure that there was a good mix of styles, sizes and textures to ensure a beautifully balanced Memory Box. We also discussed which items were not suitable for inclusion due to their size or delicacy. I then went away with this shortlist of items, both of us feeling confident in the next steps.

I spent the next few days working on a variety of arrangements, assessing the likely size of the finished artwork, which, as there were so many wonderful treasures to choose from, looked certain to be fairly big. I needed to make sure that Fiona was happy with the proposed size, taking into account where she was planning to hang it in her home and the final price, after framing, that it would cost.

Size approved, I emailed Fiona with a few composition options giving alternative versions with items in different positions for her to choose her preferred design. We went through a few rounds of trying this here and that there until we were both satisfied and happy.

I then surprised Fiona with a few additional flourishes to make her Memory Box extra special. A set of wax seal matrixes were in the original collection of items and although they were not right for inclusion, I loved the beautiful initial on the stamp so suggested that I could create some real wax seals to add in. I thought that the red wax would fit tonally with the rest of the composition, and when Fiona agreed, I sent a few wax seal colour options to her through the post. Likewise, I wanted to tie up her parents’ wedding rings with a thin length of ribbon, so samples of possible colours and styles went into this delivery too.

With all the final finishing touches agreed, I then sent out a final shot of the arrangement for Fiona to “live with” for a week or so. I like to do this to make sure that my client is 100% happy with the layout before the final stage is entered, as after that it becomes very hard to make changes. Once the composition was approved, I began carefully attaching all the items to the fabric backing board.

As there was such a variety of items, from letters on thin postal paper and a very delicate pocket diary to fragile ceramic figures, her father’s war medals, a thimble in a case and precious photographs, a great many different fixing methods were needed to ensure each item was secure, had longevity and wouldn’t age or discolour faster than usual.


The result was a stunning rectangular composition telling the story of Fiona’s parents, John and Edna’s lives together, which was framed in walnut and now hangs in her house on the South coast.


A bespoke Memory Box is a beautiful way to honour the memory of loved ones we have lost, or to celebrate a milestone in life, such as marriage or civil partnership, the birth of a child, a big birthday or retirement. Do you have a box a sentimental items hidden away? Dust them off and get in touch, together we could create a unique piece of art that keeps memories alive.