Andrew Bush's four-year (1979–82) investigation of Bonnettstown Hall, a deteriorating eighteenth-century estate near Kilkenny, Ireland, focused on how, in the artist's words, the manor house itself "disclosed varying degrees of intimacy and privacy." The exquisitely crafted color photographs of the physical remnants of the European aristocratic tradition provide a fantasy glimpse into the lives of generations of inhabitants. A similar investigation of the shared boundaries of public and private lives informs the artist's next body of work—color portraits of drivers in their cars speeding along Los Angeles freeways oblivious to the presence of a fellow traveler and his intelligent camera.
The envelopes continue Bush's interest in the boundaries of communication and rely on the notion that if the representation is convincing enough (in the trompe l'oeil tradition of Harnett and Peto), the mind can be confused into believing that the framed envelopes are real. The artist has carefully considered the shape, color, and size of each envelope and framed each one in a second-hand photographic printing frame, negative holder, or X-ray film holder, giving it a particular personality. Meant to be seen in familial congregations of three or more, each envelope seems to enclose a confidential but undisclosed message. In the late twentieth-century world of electronic communication, Bush's understanding that envelopes, like painted portraits of one's ancestors, will gradually disappear with their untold secrets, is both poignant and prescient.