As a printmaker early December excites me.
I get to think about what Christmas means and try to come up with a Christmas card design which I hope holds some of that meaning. I’ve been doing this for some years now and doubtless with varying levels of success.
This year I am little behind where I would normally be in this process thanks to the conundrum that many artists find themselves in: balancing act between paid non-artist work and studio time. For me this has tipped in the balance of the former recently. Not good for creativity. But hopefully balance is about to be restored and the paid work means I can cheerfully replenish my stores for the winter (…er…not with the contents of the local supermarket Festive produce aisles but with a few new tubes of ink from Intaglio perhaps and some more metal plate, far more heartwarming than shopping for sherry).
A few days ago I was struggling to think of a design for Christmas 2012 but not now.
Yesterday, we spent most of the afternoon and early evening outside in the beautiful Nottinghamshire countryside, beautiful but bitterly cold. We were out after dark visiting Rufford Abbey’s Winter Illuminations Aurora, which was magical, but some of us were struggling to feel our toes after only an hour in the dark and cold. What must it be like to sleep outside all night when it is below zero?
On our journey home in the van we listened to a Radio 4 programme talking about some of the stories of people who were homeless that The Connection at St Martins In the Fields has supported. Radio 4 has a Christmas appeal for donations for their work. They don’t just work with people in London, their work reaches those who need it everywhere in the UK.
Later as my feet thawed out at home while our central heating clonked and clunked, and I got some leftovers from the fridge to reheat and fill our bellies, the words from the programme about how we are all just a whisker away from being homeless stayed in my head. As an adult I have often thought this.
So, although the final design is still in progress at the moment I know exactly which part of the Christmas story my card will draw on this year; giving shelter.
I’ll let you know how I get on.