An Eccentrics Christmas

To celebrate the festive period, artists Helen and Colin David – of textile label English Eccentrics – were commissioned to create the spectacular 2013 Christmas Tree for the Grand Entrance of the Museum.

Helen and Colin David photographed in front of their 2013 V&A Christmas Tree - a red flocked antler tree

The ‘Red Velvet Tree of Love’ is traditional in shape but is coated in visceral red flocking to give a deep velvet-like appearance. The scarlet Christmas Tree is decorated with 79 sets of hand cast replica antlers and 67 white, heart-shaped baubles. The baubles have been printed in 3D and reference traditional Christmas motifs.

Detail of the 'Red Velvet Tree of Love' V&A Christmas Tree, by Helen and Colin David, 2013.

The design for the tree was inspired by the V&A’s collection, specifically a H.F.C Rampendahl chair dating from 1860, which has a frame primarily made from real antlers and is upholstered in velvet. Helen David said; ‘I have always found beautiful and inspiring objects at the V&A, since I first came to London and visited as an art student. The combination of the feminine velvet and the masculine antlers of the Victorian era chair provided a very inspiring starting point for the tree, and of course the words ‘velvet’ and ‘antler’ begin with the letters V&A.’

Image of an elaborate armchair made from deer antlers

Helen and Colin have observed the natural growing and falling of deer’s antlers from their print studio on the edge of a deer park in Norfolk. Male deer grow antlers in the spring, which are protected by a velvety growth; a stage described as ‘in velvet’. This process is referenced in the red antlers of the Christmas Tree, which are also ‘in velvet’. A selection of the baubles feature the shape of a deer taken from a 1766 printed linen from the V&A’s collection. The other baubles depict snowflakes or the artists’ signatures.

Detail of a red deer on printed linen made in 1766

The Christmas Tree will be in the Grand Entrance from 3 December 2013 – 6 January 2014.

Take a look at our previous Christmas Tree commissions.

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