Thursday, 31 December 2020

Forgotten treasures


my Instagram "Advent Calendar", beginning with the cheery robin 
bottom right and finishing with the Nativity top left
© Teresa Newham

From the beginning of December until Christmas Eve I posted an image on Instagram every day as an online advent calendar. I usually get one for myself, but couldn't find any I liked, so I thought: Why not dig out some of my older Christmas/Winter-themed artworks instead, and share them online? 

Harpenden Common in the snow
photo © Teresa Newham

Putting the calendar together was a lot of fun, and I found plenty of work which doesn't often see the light of day nowadays: I'd love to make a watercolour of a snowy Harpenden Common, and it may be that this ten-year-old photo would make a suitable starting point. I'd almost forgotten it . . .

Christmas Carol cards
© Teresa Newham

When posting the calendar I also suggested a Christmas carol of the day; which was easy for this trio of watercolour Christmas cards which originally had the words of Silent Night, O Tannenbaum and O Come all ye Faithful printed inside them.  I've always thought of the little red-haired girl as me, even though I don't have red hair. Or a dog.

linocut Christmas cards
hand printed by Teresa Newham

I was somewhat surprised to find that I'd made ten linocut Christmas cards over the years; sadly I don't have a decent image of the first one to include here.  Foolishly I limited the edition for that one so it's a bit of a collector's item - I sold the last one a year ago and didn't keep one for myself.  You live and learn.

miscellaneous watercolour Christmas cards
by Teresa Newham

It was good to revisit some of the watercolour Christmas cards I made before I started producing them in  linocut.  I still have some of the originals, although the dove and the poinsettia have both found new homes.  And I'd forgotten all about this experimental snowscape from 2010, which was one of three I made back then. I really should get round to making some more wintry art!

snowscape - one of three similar
watercolours by Teresa Newham

Saturday, 19 December 2020



hand printed linocut by Teresa Newham

For this year's Christmas card I decided to make a linocut of the Nativity.  It incorporates the whole of the Bible account of Jesus' birth - Holy Family, star, shepherds, kings - although in the Bible they are not all present at the same time.  When we set up our own Nativity at home we always position the kings to one side until after Christmas, as technically they didn't reach Bethlehem until Epiphany (6th January).

For this, the tenth linocut Christmas card I've produced, I returned to traditional lino, using the Swiss Pfeil linocut tools I got for Christmas last year. This year I'm in the process of sharing all of the cards on Instagram, along with other Christmas-themed artworks, on a sort of daily Advent Calendar, where I also suggest a Christmas carol of the day.

The carol I'm suggesting for the Nativity image is "The First Nowell", because it mentions shepherds, kings and the star:

The first Noel the angel did say 
was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay; 
in fields where they lay keeping their sheep, 
on a cold winter's night that was so deep. 
Refrain: Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, born is the King of Israel. 

They looked up and saw a star 
shining in the east, beyond them far; 
and to the earth it gave great light, 
and so it continued both day and night. [Refrain]

And by the light of that same star 
three Wise Men came from country far; 
to seek for a king was their intent, 
and to follow the star wherever it went. [Refrain]

This star drew nigh to the northwest, 
o'er Bethlehem it took its rest; 
and there it did both stop and stay, 
right over the place where Jesus lay. [Refrain]

Then entered in those Wise Men three, 
full reverently upon the knee, 
and offered there, in his presence, 
their gold and myrrh and frankincense. [Refrain]

As Christmas approaches - one of the strangest and most unsettling Christmases we have surely ever experienced - I pray that the Christmas message of peace, hope and love may strengthen and bless us all: wherever we are, whatever our faith, no matter how difficult our circumstances.