I promised a look at the development of the “Christus Natus Est” design, so here is the very first version, much more traditionally representative in style, made by my mother when I was a little girl, for the window over the stairs in the first house I remember.
When we moved house, there was no window that the first version could fill, so she designed another, this time to fit in a living room window. It is much simpler and more stylised, but I think you can see that in both versions the primary impression is one of the protecting care of the Holy Family.
Then, about four years ago, she did a version in oils, for an exhibition at a local gallery that had the theme “Memorable Dates”. Somehow the design came into vivid life in the painting – she says it came together much more easily than many of her paintings do, but in this version, the Christ Child needs no protection, instead the Light of the World blazes fiercely, incandescent with power and authority.
I expect it is a surprise to none of you, having seen that progression, that I decided I wanted to do my own interpretation. As I’ve said before, I think my version is quieter and more subdued. It has a sense of stillness and purpose, perhaps, the outstretched arms of the Christ Child already prefiguring the Crucifixion, with none of the exaltation of the heavenly choirs.
If, unlike me, you believe that an artist’s work reflects their state of mind, you might be worried about that. Don’t be. Beethoven wrote some of his most joyous music when he was already profoundly deaf and acutely depressed, and while I would not in any other way expect to be bracketed with the great man, my embroidery never has anything to do with my emotional state!