This painting was inspired by the ancient festival of Saturnalia, a Roman festival held in December, preceding the winter solstice. It was held in honor of the god Saturn and involved carnival-like celebrations.The deep blue vase feels cold and all encompassing but out of it emerges an arrangement that hints at the promise of spring. The gleaming white Lunaria (or Honesty) seedpods persist on the plant throughout the winter, containing life that will continue in the new year. Saturnalia featured many candles, as it was a festival of light in the depths of winter. This aspect of the celebration is represented by the gleaming gold ornaments which also feature in modern day Christmas decorations.

Our use of Christmas trees is said to have begun as a traditional practice of warding off the cold of winter. Bringing in an evergreen tree (which are unaffected by the change of seasons) granted the household a protective charm that helped it to survive the winter. The festival of Saturnalia performed a similar function, so the the painting merges the imagery of both traditions.

Oil on Linen
50cm x 76cm
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© Kieran Ingram 2018