Christmas has arrived at the Victoria & Albert Musuem, London, in the most spectacular fashion!
To celebrate the festive period, artists Helen and Colin David – of textile label English Eccentrics – were commissioned to create the 2013 Christmas Tree for the Grand Entrance of the Museum.
The ‘Red Velvet Tree of Love’ is traditional in shape but is constructed of 79 hand-cast velvet flocked replica antlers, and 67 white heart-shaped baubles made on a 3D printer. The mathematically minded will notice that both are prime numbers. “We like to use primes, and Fibonacci numbers,” Colin David explained. The blood-red colour is not just for seasonal good cheer: to the creators the tree also symbolises birth and death, life and sex, with the antlers – cast from real ones gathered near their Norfolk studios, where the stags grow them every year for mating season battles and then shed them – an important part of its symbolism.
Male deer grow antlers in the spring, which are protected by a velvety growth; a stage described as ‘in velvet’. This process is referenced in the red antlers of the Christmas Tree, which are also ‘in velvet’. A selection of the baubles feature the shape of a deer taken from a 1766 printed linen from the V&A’s collection. The other baubles depict snowflakes or the artists’ signatures.
The design for the tree was inspired by the V&A’s collection, specifically a H.F.C Rampendahl chair dating from 1860, which has a frame primarily made from real antlers and is upholstered in velvet. Helen David said; ‘I have always found beautiful and inspiring objects at the V&A, since I first came to London and visited as an art student. The combination of the feminine velvet and the masculine antlers of the Victorian era chair provided a very inspiring starting point for the tree, and of course the words ‘velvet’ and ‘antler’ begin with the letters V&A.’
I was lucky enough to visit Colin and Helen’s London studio a few months ago and I remember seeing a few red antlers here and there… I was certainly expecting something wonderful but this is truly magnificent! Christmas is here! And we are very excited!
The Christmas Tree will be in the Grand Entrance from 3 December 2013 – 6 January 2014. You must go and see it, it really will put you in the festive mood!
Via: V&A Musuem,