Happy Christmas 2017

Angel, take from Duncan Grant’s mural of Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton (hand embroidered and appliquéd by Mary Addison)

December has done its usual thing of being a long way off  with plenty of time seemingly left for making things and then, wham, it swooshes away like billyo and all those manufacturing plans suddenly seem too ambitious – well, impossible. I finished my Christmas card over a week ago but what with a family visit and family visiting have sent few more than half a dozen cards so far. I haven’t yet made up my mind whether to send my cards by email or devote a large chunk of next week to physically writing them. (When you’ve moved twice in two years, you really need to write a  few more words than ‘much love, Mary and David’.) At the moment there’s something terribly attractive about procrastinating and I suspect my desire to connect properly with individual messages will tip me over into the ‘late but lovingly so’ category.

Duncan Grant sketch for an angel, from the mural, Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton

This little angel is based on one of Duncan Grant’s from the mural, Christ in Splendour, to be seen high up on the chancel arch of St Michael and All Angels, Berwick. The church is just a few miles away from Charleston, the farmhouse made home by the artists of the Bloomsbury group and both farmhouse and church occupy a wonderful seemingly untouched landscape evocative of sacred domains and timeless beauty – the paradox of land farmed, often intensively, since ancient times.

Complete study for the mural Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton

Wanting intense colour for my Christmas card and limited by the few scraps of silk I could find, I changed the angels dress to red and made the circlets of flowers more like Christmas garlands than the nosegays of spring. As I worked from Duncan Grant’s sketch which fits a quarter of an  A4 sheet rather neatly, one wing is cut short. I realised when I framed my embroidery that I had room for the full wing, so I think I may well restore what is missing..

Detail of embroidered angel, take from Duncan Grant’s mural of Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton (hand embroidered and appliquéd by Mary Addison)

If you have a moment, do look at the church’s website and the Christ in Splendour mural in particular and spend a few minutes going through the slide show of Duncan Grant’s sketches and photographs of the model(s) for the angels. Wonderfully, the model for my angel has managed to position herself in an armchair (upholstered in Bloomsbury fabric, naturally) in a way that suggests imminent flight across celestial skies – ok with the legs but not the arms and of course she has no wings …but for all that, you can see how Duncan Grant has captured what is perfect about the pose and set it free on the walls in his mural! (see below for a poor  photograph I took from the church’s website but there are others and the text is interesting too).  I’ve always had a fondness for this angel. My first husband painted a copy of it on the loft hatch on the top landing of our London home – it worked so well, at the top of the stairs, with access to the roof and thus sky beyond. I should have removed it when we left, but there you go…

Girl modelling for angel in Duncan Grant’s mural of Christ in Splendour, Berwick Church, near Brighton

So, to anyone reading this blog, have a wonderful Christmas and may the New Year be full of all the best for you and your families.

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  1. Posted December 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    She’s a lovely angel – I’m sure Duncan Grant would be intrigued to see her continue to inspire!

    A Happy Christmas to you all!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 23, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Rachel. She’s such a lovely fluid angel – some of the others in the same mural are tempting to copy too.

  2. Anne Hill
    Posted December 23, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Happy Christmas to you all. Your blog never fails to inspire me. I would like some more details on applique plus embroidery. Do you somehow attach to applique to the background leaving the edges raw and then use the embroidery to cover the edges plus decorate. I loved your “j” monogram which was also embroidered over silk fabric. I suspect in the past you may have discussed this and will enjoy looking back to see what I can find.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 23, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      A kind comment, Anne. As to the appliqué, I do various things.
      With initials or monograms I use double sided vilene to attach felt or silk on to the background. Often this doesn’t do what it should, i.e. stick the felt/silk to the background but at least it gives a bit of body and helps the edges not to fray before I come to embroider over it (either partially with the flowers or fully with the letters).
      With the Christmas cards where I know there will be no wear, I use the double sided vilene and often just slip stitch the edges to the base fabric.

  3. Linda Pennell
    Posted December 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Happy Christmas to you and all your family

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 30, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Thank you Linda. I hope your Christmas went well.

  4. Sally Coles
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    All the hustle and bustle of the festive season has brought me very late indeed to your Christmas post! It’s been lovely to renew acquaintance over the past few months, Mary, and this comes with love and best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and happy 2018! Here’s hoping your nomadic lifestyle is now a little more settled, and you have time to put down a few new roots, while still enjoying the small people and their development.
    Much love, Sally x

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 15, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Thank you Sally. Good to hear from you again.
      We’ve reached that maddening stage where there are still boxes of books to be brought in and shelved – and yet we can’t quite gather up the enthusiasm to get on with it, especially at this back end of winter.
      We must try and meet up later in the year. Meanwhile hope you and your family had a good Christmas and that 2018 will go well.
      With love Mary

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