As we come to the latter part of the year, a festive time when we hoist drinks, hug our loved ones and count our blessings, I’m playing a bit of a game, partly inspired by my friend Ian Henderson. Perhaps in echo of “The 12 days of Christmas”, Ian has been sharing a delightful Christmas treasure each day on Facebook.

I’m a sucker for conceptual shenanigans, and so I’m putting an umbrella over the next few pieces I publish, framing them as “mysteries”. I like the word because it’s one with many meanings, some that might be apt for the season.

I should add that the period at the end of the year has always been a time of melancholy reflection for me. My father passed away between Christmas & New Year’s when I was a five-year old boy. And every year we watched my Mother light a candle. Whatever her thoughts may have been as she remembered every year, it was her private experience. We would respect her space and her need to contemplate what had been, and what would be.

One important thought to add is that some mysteries can be solved.  I would like to invoke the symbolist poets and artists (for example Maurice Denis), who sought to pose questions of such depth as to bemuse you with the insoluble.  These are not to be mistaken for puzzles with a solution.

As the end of the year disappears into the darkness of the shortest day, it seems apt to retreat, to contemplate, and then begin anew in January.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.


“L’Echelle Dans Le Feuillage” by Maurice Denis, via ArtNet. NB There is at least one similar image in the current AGO show.

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