Last week, Sorcha and I attended one of ‘object handling sessions’ at  the Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate. In the curator run session, we learnt all about Christmas traditions from the past, and were able handle some beautiful Victorian Christmas cards.

The embossed deckled edges to the miniature cards were just exquisite and the tiny illustrations were surprisingly vibrant for their age. Some main observations were that they weren’t heavily religious despite their age, and were also quite colourful, depicting foliage from various seasons, not just snow-dusted holly as you may expect. The fronts displayed very short verses, or just a simple ‘Merry Christmas’ in quite plain typefaces, and there was evidence of collaging & reusing from previous cards.

We were also shown a lovely 1920’s artificial tree, some 1960’s baubles and a gorgeous retro box of fairy lights.

It was a great insight into their collection, and we would recommend the ‘object handling sessions’ to anyone with an interest in the month’s subject (they advertise them on their website and in their pdf leaflet which is soon to be released)

The Mercer Art gallery is also running an extensive exhibition on the work of pattern designer Shelia Bownas which is well worth a visit to see the vast amount of print designs from the many era’s of her career. It is running until 7 January.

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