Transfer ence invited people to co-create….with a blank empty matchbox. It gave people a voice, a container to hold hope, joke, re-discover, communicate feelings, create, share interests, be present, awaken something buried and grow…a little like psychotherapy.





Comments on Distribution:

“ I love looking at hot air balloons.”

“It’s not a matchbox, it doesn’t have a flint.”

“So you want us to tell you what a blank matchbox means to us?”

“ ….So I can just leave it here (cash till) and you will come back in one week??”

“ No. No. No….” (Older chap sits down, puts his head in to his hands. He may be thinking what is the world coming to. Two other shop assistants say they will take one. I leave one for the older man.)

“ This has come just at the right time for me. My sister has died. I know exactly what I am going to do with this wee box.”

“Aye sure.”


“ What would you like me to do with it?”

“ So I could put food inside??”

“ I’m sorry I still don’t understand. What precisely do you want me to do with it? You tell me, I’ll do it.”

“Can I burn it and return ash?”


“ So I could put some hair inside?”

“ Okay I’ll take it. Do you want a donation?”

“Okay, my manager will do it.”


“ Do you mean gather customers ideas in the box over the week??”

“ Yeah we’ll come up with something, no problem.”

“ I’ll leave it in the staff room and see what happens. Come back Monday, Wednesday or Friday when I am in.”

“Ok hen. I’ll leave it here and see what happens tae it. Thanks dear.”

“ My sons will like this. We enjoy making things together.”


“Whatever I want…”

“Are you okay? Would you like some food, you look tired??” (She hands over an apple and a banana, looks genuinely concerned perhaps thinking – that box lady is a complete fruitcake.)

“ We are really busy just now can you come back….”

“No. Honestly when the manager is here he will just chuck it in the bin. He does that with anything that clutters up space.”

“ We can’t accept anything a customer offers us, it’s against our policy.”

“ I am quite a private person so you see…I…hmmmm…Okay then, if you return in one hour I will have something.”

“Alright a wee project, I can do that.”


“We’ll have fun playing with this, the two of us.”

“It’s against are regulations to take anything from a customer. We can’t be held responsible for what might happen. A bomb could be placed in it.”

“Will present to the board and we’ll think of something together.”


“We are awfully busy, may not make the opening day as Saturday is our delivery day…but we’ll try and think of something.”

“ Will not work in here. Honest to god. Not here. We are too busy and someone will chuck it in the bin. Honest to god.”

Comments on collection:

“ Keep the daisy in water – I have a bottle cap you can take. The daisy was taken from my fathers grave.”


“ I have lost it can I have another one?”

“My colleague isn’t here but can I do one.”

“ It is a memory from childhood.”


“My brother use to keep mini beasties inside matchboxes and he would make little holes in it like this.”


“ We use to make castles with these when I was younger.”

“ Used it to gather teams thoughts over the week, giving it back empty.”

“ We asked customers to respond to it and this is what we got.”




“ Filled it with millet and hamster food, will that do??”

“ It has been a little shelve and storage unit over the week. I give you it back empty.”

“ The girls thought to do this because of all the nationalities that live in this area. Okay honey?”


“ Be Flexible like a rubber. Keep Knots tight save pennies. SURVIVE. ”



“ I used this stamp with my niece to decorate it. I had dark thoughts but thought best not to share them. I thought of a biodegradable coffin for a bee. Then thought finding the bee would be tricky at this time of year.”

“Sorry dear, I misunderstood you. I will think about it and do something. Can you come back tomorrow??”

“ I wanted to cover it in petals but I just don’t have the time. There are a lot of funerals coming up which is sad but great because we are busy. I’ll fill it with petals instead, that will have to do. Sorry.”


“ Nobody knows what is in that box but me.”

“ It made me feel that we should look after each other no matter what religion and what race we are, we should HELP EACH OTHER.”

“Big Small Box”

“ Box of thoughts, my happy thoughts in the box of thoughts. If I feel down I open up the box of thoughts and lift out my happy thought… I was worried that I would come back to work and the wee box would be gone.”

“What I would keep in this small box.”

“Being a keen fisherman I would keep in the box a fly that caught my biggest Rainbow Trout! 2lb 10oz. Secondly I would keep the memory of that trip to loch fad on the isle of Bute where I caught that special fish. Such a lot to keep in a small place but every time I look in the box the memory would flood back. By the way the fly is a Black hopper dry fly. C McGreevy.”




“ I asked my son to draw things that made him think of mums work. On paper he drew and cut out lots of fruit for the slot machines. He also snuck a wee car inside…I asked him if he was okay to give it away for an exhibition and he said that was fine.”

“ It’s an alphabet out of the box.”

“I left the box in the cafe, moved her about the place, the coffee machine, the fish tank, the grill and see what dust, coffee splodges she picks up. I was surprised at how little. I guess she just is…. Isis’s her name.”

“ We’ve not got it. It’s not here. We have an external cleaner that probably threw it in the bin, especially if there is no matches inside it.”

“ Would you like to eat something? We are having tea and biscuit’s. Here have one of these.”


“Because I am awesome.”

“ Its sat by the till all week. Here you are.”

“ Reminds me of a trick my grandfather did when I was wee, he would hide his finger in the box and then flash it out with the tale that he had lost his finger in the war.”

“ The Red represents blood of African slaves, the gold is the sun, the green the land in Africa. Wanted brighter colours but only had crap colouring pencils.”


“At home I keep seeds in little boxes like this one.”



“I drowned the box…it is in the freezer and might need a little sleep over in your freezer and then it is free to melt away.”

“ The text is one liners from songs I have written.”

“ I give you salt of the earth in a matchbox. Thoughts behind this are fuelled by sweating it out in the gym and coming home and putting heaps of salt on my eggs. The salt cycle.”