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Sunday, 11 December 2011

~Winter Wassailing~#21: December Will Be Magic Again

The idea of a magical looking December goes hand in hand with the whole Christmas package, yet somehow this particular year it isn't living up to much. In the last few days alone we've had 95mph winds, blizzards, severe ice and torrential rain. Where's the enchanting white vistas we so long for to add some seasonal spice to our festivities?
Well, this year, thanks in part to Mojo Magazine, the bewitching depictions of a Winter Wonderland come courtesy of the artist Lisa Evans, whose stunning evocation of a rather odd Christmas scene adorned Mojo's review of the new Kate Bush album '50 Words For Snow'. As soon as as I saw the illustration(see below), I was hooked and immediately set out to try and find more images by this gifted artist.
What I love about the image above is that it has that otherworldly allure that only something as magical as Christmastime would allow us to fall for. The foreboding palette of grey blues and shimmering whites creates a chilly fairytale effect, but like the best fairytales it is shot through with a little sinister surrealism. Take for instance the snowman that seems to hover above the trees, or that rather ominous shadow on the far right hand corner that threatens the Winter idyll that surrounds the children; is it a monster, is it some disreputable adult, or is it a parent following on to make sure the the two children are safe? Also, the eyes of the moon give the whole scene a storybook feel that assures us we are in the realms of fantasy.
If we look at the close-up detail above we can see that the female character could almost pass for the young Kate Bush herself (I'm guessing that's the whole point!), and that both have a wide-eyed innocence coupled with a rather eerie detached look that suggests their faces have been Photo-shopped on, creating further unease.
This is why the image works so well for a songwriter like Kate whose entire oeuvre is enshrouded in that whole blurring of a highly sensualised reality with a child's dreamlike fantasy. And who other than Ms Bush could ever reassure us, in her own inimitable way, that December WILL be magic again?

Both Kate's songs and Lisa's artwork manage to convey that sense of spectral unease that lies within children's fantasies, nursery rhymes and fairytales. There's that sense that children haven't really worked our what 'evil' is yet, so anything threatening or potentially dangerous is viewed by the child as something unknown and slightly peculiar, rather than downright sinister.
Take this next painting of Lisa's; we can see the happiness that the rocking horse and the glove puppet should bring to the child, but the blank look on her face coupled with the overall sense of disquiet brought on by the mute colours suggests all is not as it should be.
Or then there's this beautiful creation in which everything looks rosy, everything is bright and the child is surrounded by her toys and animal friends, yet the sad look on her face and the concerned look of her playmates, not to mention that all furniture is covered in ice, allows a sense of unease to permeate through the scene.
It's not the first time that Lisa has had her wonderful artwork accompany reviews in Mojo magazine; this beautiful and haunting image below was used to illustrate an album by the equally Wintry and sepulchral Bon Iver. Possibly making Lisa Mojo's Winter illustrator of choice!
As you may know, we here at the ~Streetlamp~ worship at the altar of the blessed Kate Bush, although special mention should go out to Ray who has burned the candle longest, seeing the beauty and the mystery of Kate's breathtaking body of work long before Griff or I ever managed to get our heads round it. And so it makes perfect sense that it was Ray who e-mailed me all aglow to inform me that Kate had a whole new album of original material out this month. I don't think Kate sees her new album as a 'Christmas Album' as such, more a celebration of Winter, that most maligned of seasons.
So to round off this Blog I thought I'd finish with a track from that new album, and the video that Ray chose for inclusion in the Blog. Plus an illustration of Lisa's that I think conveys the same feel and essence of the song:

And finally, a portrait of the artist:

You can view more of Lisa's incredible and beautiful artwork here

And you can follow her own Blog here

December IS Magic!!


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