I purchased this original Victorian pop-up Christmas card when I was a teenager playing a season at the Hippodrome Theatre in Bristol, finding it in an antiquarian book/print shop on the picturesquely named Christmas Steps. It’s tiny, measuring a bare 6 x 10 cm, and is as charming a scrap of 19th century ephemera as could be wished for. When opened it displays a vibrant 3-d panorama of a Victorian theatre, the ‘boxes’ crammed with an attentive audience and the stage resplendent with a ‘Harlequinade’, the traditional last act of all pantomimes of the time, when the characters of ‘fairy tale’ magically transformed into Harlequin, Columbine, Clown, Pantalone and all the other favourites of the Commedia dell’Arte. In the background you can see a chorus of fairies, three of them ‘aerialists’ perched on leafy swags. It was this little treasure that inspired all the theatre pop-up cards I used to make as gifts at Christmas time, and I find it as enchanting now as I did when first I set eyes on it.
Alas Peter and I have not had the time to send Christmas cards in what has been the busiest of years for us, and so we hope that those of you who visit the Artlog will forgive the lack, and enjoy instead this little online offering of:
Seasons Greetings from Ty Isaf.