Written by Beaney artists in residence Holder and Lamoon
It has been a while since we last posted a blog about our work at The Beaney, not because we have been sitting around doing nothing, because we have been working on bit of a secret mission. Well not that secret, but we didn’t want to spoil the Christmas surprise…
It’s now time to tell you all about The Beaney Christmas Tree, which is now display in all its glory in the magnificent stair-well.
When our residency was extended in August we wanted to take our work in a somewhat different direction, so we were very pleased to be given the project of creating decorations for the 2014 Christmas tree. It has been a truly wonderful experience and we hope that you will be able to make a visit over the Christmas period.
We give you the ‘The Holder and Lamoon Beaney Christmas Tree’.
The tree represents time, geography and history (main preoccupations of the museum) and also the paintings of Thomas Sidney Cooper. In making these decorations, in true Stuphist style, we sought to recycle ordinary bits and pieces to create something original and exciting, hopefully offering ideas for visitors to try at home.
Here is a small explanation of the decorations from top to bottom.
Christmas Skyfish 
‘Swimming’ above the tree is the ‘Christmas Skyfish’ made in response to The Fordwich Trout and The Rook in a Red Coat. The Skyfish comes with its own newly created myth: For 21 days before Christmas if you look in the direction of Orion you might see an area of stars in the shape of a fish careening through the night sky toward Bethlehem. If you spot this, you will have seen a Christmas Skyfish. You must give your Skyfish a name and then you will be creative for the rest of your life. You will notice that our Christmas Skyfish or Noel Ichthus is carrying the gift of crystal quartz.
Embedded into the branches are 12 clocks, set to the time of 12 countries identifiable by the flag and name on the dial.
Farm Animals 
These toys have been painted to represent the animals in the paintings by Thomas Sydney Cooper in the gallery behind you, including the magnificent bull.
Recycled Christmas baubles hand-painted with ancient maps – both real and imaginary.
World Dolls 
Picked up for peanuts in boot fairs, these vintage dolls were unloved until they found this new home.
‘Drink Can Art’ 
These pieces have been made from used drink cans just using scissors and embossed with a blunt piece of steel. They represent various objects in the Beaney collections.
This little collection was found in a flea market. They were collected from all over the world and, for us, represent the idea of the Beaney collections, themselves gathered and donated by various people over many years. 
Whelk Shells 
Found on Dungeness Beach the shells have been given a little touch of magic, look closely.
The Twelve Days of Christmas 
Cut from used food tin-cans, soldered and wired together.
Cut from old music scores.
Map Birds 
An old atlas forms the basis of these little birds. Birds along with butterflies are a common denominator of many of the cases upstairs.
Stained Glass ‘windows’ 
Photographs of the stained glass in the collection, printed onto acetate film.
World Stamp Garlands 
Little works of art that fluttered around the planet before coming to rest on our tree.
Towards the Light 
……and finally beneath the tree – ‘Towards the Light’ is a new work by Holder and Lamoon created especially for this space, representing a global view of mankind’s search for the spiritual.
Holder and Lamoon are currently in residence at The Beaney as our Armchair Artists. When asked about their work, they call themselves Visual Story-Tellers and Stuphists. Apart from the Beaney Christmas Tree the culmination of their residency will be an exhibition in The Front Room from 14th February to 8th March 2015, entitled ‘The Essence of Memory – A Distillation of Thought’.
To find out more about their residency read their previous blog posts here