The Dundee Christmas Card

– Welcome to the Dundee Christmas Card –

A giant hand painted wooden WhimSicAL LusH Christmas Card diorama that you can walk through and send messages to loved ones from City Square, Dundee!

My Dundee Christmas Card was in Dundee’s City Square throughout December in 2020! 🤩

Over the last year we’ve often not been able to indulge in many of our usual comforts together, like sitting together with tea and biscuits but we can still enjoy some little treats and pockets of joy, so I was delighted to be commissioned last year by Dundee City Council to create the magical Dundee Christmas Card with its giant biscuit house and lots and lots of stories!


The Biscuit House

🍪 Who loves tea and biscuits with friends and family!? Most of us have shared a box of biscuits with family and friends, with cups of tea and lots of chat. Boxes stuffed with custard creams, bourbons, pink wafers, jammy dodgers and nice biscuits, with kids racing to get to their favourites first! My grandma loved getting a box at Christmas and us kids couldn’t wait for her to lift the lid.

🍪 The big biscuit house with walls of our favourite biscuits, roof tiled with choc chip cookies and a door made of the sweetest pink and yellow battenburg cake is a twist on the Hansel and Gretel fairytale and a nod to our love of sweet treats and being together at Christmas.

🌸 Happiness is creating a trail of flowers on the ground for people to follow! 🌸

🌟 Watch a magical film of the Dundee Christmas Card at night on my YouTube – Here 🌟 It includes amazing drone footage too letting you see Dundee’s City Square like you’ve never seen it before! 🌟



Have you ever met a Kabouter?

The Santa character in this giant wooden diorama has a wee secret. He’s actually not Santa at all… he’s a Dutch Gnome – a Kabouter! If you’d like to learn more about him then hop over to this post – HERE – that I wrote about him back in 2017. He’s been a favourite character of mine in forever, sporting his favourite red jumper, just like his pal Wee Maggie Penguin.

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Enjoy a wee wander through the installation during the day! ( 🔉🎵🎄 Complete with background bagpipes playing festive tunes and seagulls joining in for that ultimate Dundee experience!)

Wee Maggie Penguin & her Unusual Hogmanay Tradition

You’ve likely spotted Wee Maggie in my #DundeeChristmasCard but have you noticed her toy fish? It has a long lost Dundee Hogmanay story to tell!

Wee Maggie, the baby penguin, always carries her fish toy with her and this year, as she knew she’d be out and about during the festive season she decided to dress it up as a dressed herring. Heard of dressed herrings before?

I’ll let Lynn Campbell and Erin Farley (@lynnedotm and @aliasmacalias) tell you more…

“Hogmanay traditions are many, but all focus on basic principles: warmth, sharing, sustenance. Togetherness is important – the visiting custom of first footing emphasises the need to connect with others in the community. Gifts brought to neighbours include coal and whisky, things to warm, to forget the cold, and to bring people together.

Food is also a popular gift. The sacred principles of hospitality insist that food must be shared, and this would extend to the barrels of herring. Anyone visiting a Dundee home in the winter would likely have been offered some – and it became a sort of competition to see if you could empty your barrel in time for Hogmanay, in order to make a fresh start in the New Year. So, people began to take herring to their friends’ houses while first footing to start the year’s food supply with good will. This is all very well, and comparatively straightforward. However, at some point in the 19th century, a few first-footers – possibly having had a dram or two already, who can say? – decided this would be a lot more memorable if the fish looked a bit more… festive.

Thus was born the Dundee dressed herring. The “dress” was literal, usually a crepe paper skirt and bonnet combination in bright colours, and they were tied to ribbons and carried through the streets and into homes on Hogmanay night. These were not for eating – these were invited guests, and once they were in they stayed all year, dangling somewhere in the house to keep their luck (and scent) around until the next time…”

(Quotes from Lynne and Erin’s piece for FolkloreThursday : https://folklorethursday.com/folklife/new-year-celebrations-herrings-hogmanay/)


Wee Maggie has more stories to tell too if you’d like some extra adventures! Head over to this blog post all about her – HERE – She been a very busy wee bee (for a baby penguin).

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The Concept

Loooook! Little and large!! 😍 The #dundeechristmascard started off as illustrations and little wooden worlds like these… then they got BIG!

🌟 You can also enjoy a wee tour of the card over on my insta – HERE complete with festive tunes!


The People of Dundee

What an amazing experience it’s been to design and illustrate the #DundeeChristmasCard!! People’s reactions have been just wonderful.

“The Dundee Christmas Card was a real highlight this Christmas. In a year when we all needed cheering up, it was an incredibly fun and beautiful way to help celebrate the festive period. I saw so many families with a smile on their face as a result of this new Christmas addition.”

Councillor John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council & Councillor for Strathmartine Ward (SNP)
There were even giant bubbles! 🤩

Press

Oh look! @lupinlurcher and I made page 2 of the TheCourier.co.uk yesterday with my #DundeeChristmasCard 😁

I have been over the moon with the joyful response my installation has been getting! Just adoring everyone’s photos popping up, with the loveliest comments. Thanks so much everyone, you have made my year!

My Brilliant Team

I may have designed and illustrated it all but I couldn’t have done it alone! Oh gees no… Mega thank you to Dundee City Council and Claire Dow and team (Becca & Johanna) for such an incredible opportunity! I still can’t actually believe that my work is in the city square! Wow! Such an honour. I hope it brings everyone lots of smiles in a year that we need them. 🤩

Thanks to project partners Dundee Rep Theatre and Scottish Dance Theatre for the use of their workshop and paint shop space. In particular thanks to Grahame Coyle for his project management. Thank you to the wonderful Leila Kalbassi for all her support (and putting up with me taking over her entire paint shop 😅). Lenny Whittet too for being brilliant. To Scott Bisset and Scott Ish Scenic team for the cutting and build, you’ve not seen me with a saw… I definitely left it in safe hands!

For all that awesome fancy lighting, thanks AML Event Hire and for looking after everything and everyone who visited – thanks too to Red Pepper Events and Securi Group.

Shouts also to Keiron Sweeney, Lisa Graef and Jill Skulina too for jumping in with extra helping out hands with painting, finishing and construction! And to Mo from Drone Pics Above for surprising me with such awesome shots of the square. Magical! ⭐️

“Teamwork makes the dream work”

A bit of a cheesy, yet very true, quote from my best friend! 🥰

For more behind the scenes of the making of the Dundee Christmas Card please head over to WhimSicAL LusH on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Look for #DundeeChristmasCard to find lots of timelapses like this one – HERE – and other fun stuff! 💚🌿


More News!


Christmas 2021: I’m delighted to say that the WhimSicAL LusH Christmas card was such a success that Dundee City Council went on to work with The Beano to produce another 3D installation in City Square! It was amazing. It’s such an honour to have been the start to something that I hope will become an annual Dundee festive tradition, involving many more creatives.


Christmas 2021: Verdant Works asked if they could display elements of the 2020 Christmas Card in their beautiful restored Mill for their Christmas celebrations. It went down a treat with visiting children (and adults too). It was lovely to be able to work with my neighbours (my studio is in a Mill just down the street) and to see the pieces on display being enjoyed again!


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