I have a new project! For its Christmas exhibition, my usual print venue, The Ropewalk, will be holding an exhibition of prints on the intriguing theme of the Winter Solstice.

Here’s a flavour of the brief for what could be a series of up to three prints each:

As the year dies, days shorten, night and gathering darkness hold sway. In the past, peoples gathered together for protection and warmth to see out the cold and darkness beyond the hearth. This need to gather in groups was both emotional from the fear of the “other” in the darkening gloom beyond, and for protection from marauders, human and animal. This isolation and fear of the unknown and imagined has largely been forgotten in our modern world.

Sources for themes and ideas might include… myths, legends and story-telling associated with the winter, the dying year and darkness.


In between my design work for clients, I’ve been spending some time looking at some of the myths and legends associated with this time of year, across different cultures and religious traditions. These have included:

– Yuletide (from Yule – the longest night)
– The agricultural deity Saturnalia
– The Roman god Mithras, believed to be the ‘Soldiers’ god’
– Christian/Pre-Christian and Pagan references
– The ‘Wheel of the Year’

From these and other sources, I’ve been looking at some of the concepts associated with the Winter Solstice, with its promise of rebirth, lengthening days and the return of the sun. These have lead me to look at stories and image references that include the following ideas and concepts:

Fire / Sun / Light / Dark / Death / Rebirth / Excess / Mischief / Captivity / Liberation / Hope / Fear

I already know that my idea for the prints will entail the creation of three faces, each one reflecting one of the traditions or concepts or ideas above. One of these is likely to be the sun. Anyway, below are my initial sketches. I’ll probably have to do a few more before I’m happy with the basic ideas, but it’s a good start!

Preparatory sketch: 'The Sun God'

The Sun God – mentioned in many traditions and religions, including African, Aztec, Buddhist, Hindu, Indonesian and Chinese cultures.

Preparatory sketch: 'The Lord of Misrule'

The Lord of Misrule – was appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying. He also has links to the Roman feast of Saturnalia.
Preparatory sketch: 'The Green Man'
The Green Man – found in many cultures from many ages around the world. Widely interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of growth each spring.

In the next few days I’ll be posting updates on the progress of this project. Why not comment here or Tweet to let me know what you think.


Find all my posts about Art Printworks stories on Twitter at: #artprintstories