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Posts tagged ‘Christmas and holiday season’

The Norm Nativity | Visit of the Three Wise Norms

The Shepherd Norms weren’t the only Norms heading towards the stable in Bethlehem. Three exceptionally wise Norms who each in turn lorded over little glittering neighbouring kingdoms in Eastern Normland had heard about the birth of a new King of Kings, a Norm to save all of the world, and decided that it was only right and proper that they visit this future great Norm a visit. And how to find this little Norm who had been born in a mere stable without an address? Well luckily an ever brightening star had appeared before their path, and guessing that the star was acting as a kind of celestial guide towards their destination, the three Wise Norms followed the star towards Jesus Norm.

The only problem was that the star kept on moving, and as it did so took the Wise Norms over fields and mountains, rocky plains and wide expanses of perilous sandy desert. Luckily they were not on foot, travelling instead upon the seated humps of their trusty camels, ensuring that not only their lavish persons remained clean and unweathered by the journey, but also that their presents of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh remained safely installed above all of the sandy terrain. Let’s hope they make it to Bethlehem safely…

The Three Wisenorms (2013 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and gold paint on paper)

The Three Wise Norms (2013 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen and gold paint on paper)

Come back next time, to see where both the Wise Norms and the Shepherd Norms ended up! In the meantime, here is Matthew’s account of the Magi’s visit, the only one of the gospels to mention it.

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.

Matthew 2:1-12

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at

The Daily Norm’s Christmas Tree of the Week | No.3: Parisian Masquerade

Some people think that black Christmas trees are morbid, but as this tree scheme will hopefully demonstrate, a well decorated black tree can be anything but. Characterised by its sparkling silver masks and its twinkling Eiffel Towers, my Parisian Masquerade tree is a nod to the glamour, elegance and spectacle which France’s capital city exudes in bucket loads. Yes, this week’s Daily Norm Christmas Tree of the week is the third tree out of four in my scheme of plenty, and is perhaps the most tightly co-ordinated and unceasingly bejewelled of the lot.


Matching perfectly the black and red colour scheme of my lounge (with its dark leathers, urban metals, large mirrors and glass surfaces and splashes of red in the furniture and accessories), my black tree both complements and enhances the interiors, with its baubles of ruby red glitter, black and white patterning and polished silver, while red tinsel adds shape and consistency to the scheme. Meanwhile, the little Eiffel towers, to be found in both metal and blown glass form not only signpost the major theme of the tree, but also reflect the large Eiffel Tower silhouettes which adorn the walls of my lounge. But perhaps the best representation of the spirit of Paris is not in the Eiffel towers, but the undeniable glamour which is manifested in the little glass chandeliers which hang intermittently amongst the baubles – a touch of ballroom elegance for the masquerade which is dancing its way across the branches of this tree.

So for those doubters amongst you who think that a black Christmas tree is better suited to Halloween, I would ask you to reconsider. For in my Parisian Masquerade I believe I have created a scheme which represents the most festive facet of all the season – a representation of the parties and the glamour which Christmas so proficiently entails.

Join me next week for the climax of my Christmas tree review – Number 4!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like a London Christmas…

Having lived in London for some 11 years now, and been a frequent visitor even before then, I feel like a true Londoner, or at least as true as a Londoner can be in a city which lacks the small touches of friendly familiarities, of daily pleasantries and community feel which are so abundant in small towns and villages elsewhere in the UK. I know I’m a Londoner because I get ferociously impatient amongst ambling tourists; I can’t stand still on a tube escalator – preferring to walk so as to avoid waisting time; and I feel an indefatigable pride when anything big or beautiful happens in the city – which is frequently. And at no other time does that pride manifest more than at Christmas, when London’s streets become alive with the festive spirit.

While this transformation, especially around the shopping heart of the West End, may happen a little too early for some tastes, I revel in the change as soon as the evenings get dark early, yearning for nothing more than late night Christmas shopping on cold dark evenings, accompanied by a cup of sticky sweet mulled wine and the smell of roasting chestnuts wafting in the air.

This year, with the spirit of economic recovery looming large, London appears to have gone to town for the festive season with more enthusiasm than ever before. An amble through its streets this weekend with my visiting parents revealed just what an Aladdin’s cave of festive treasures London has to offer, with glorious lights strung across streets and inside shops, with ice-skating rinks popping up in front of every important building, and festive flavours easing their way onto the menus of the majority of London’s many cosy warm eateries.

The Somerset House ice rink

The Somerset House ice rink

A stunning window display near Charing Cross

A stunning window display near Charing Cross

Such a cool idea - Eros turned into a snow globe

Such a cool idea – Eros turned into a snow globe

This post attempts to share glimpses of this festive wonderland which has taken the city by storm. The ultimately Christmasy ice-rink in the magnificent courtyard of Somerset House looks glorious as ever, but is accompanied this year by an equally enticing Christmas parade full of festive pop-up shops crammed with the ultimate in unique and luxury Christmas gifts. Meanwhile, down the road, Covent Garden is alive with lights and decorations aplenty, while in Piccadilly Circus, the ultimate in brilliant ideas has been realised as the famous Eros statue has been covered by a large transparent dome and pumped full of fake snow to turn it into the biggest snow globe I’ve ever seen. What a fantastic idea! You’ve also got to love the tree at St Pancras International, where visitors from the continent will be welcomed to London by the ultimate in English elegance – a tree decorated with hampers from the Queen’s grocer, Fortnum and Mason’s. A tree after my own heart.

It’s that time of the year when the Christmas spirit is really starting to creep in… and as these photos show, you would have to be made of stone to escape the first waves of festive happiness washing over London right now. Bring it on.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas – Part I

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in London, which, as cities go, surely springs to mind as one of the most festive locations in which to spend the Christmas season. It is, after all, the city that brought us A Christmas Carol, and whose foggy streets, holly-trimmed Georgian town houses and fairy-light filled shopping streets fill Christmas cards across the globe, images which are synonymous with the festive season everywhere.

True, we don’t have many cinnamon-scented, mulled-wine quenched Christmas markets, gingerbread houses or ski slopes, and when we get snow, it does generally turn to grey mush within the hour, but what we do have is a series of super-festive ice rinks set amongst backdrops of picture-perfect architectural grandeur, huge trees filling our squares and besides our most important buildings, an almost guaranteed cold wintery climate, and shopping streets crammed full of shoppers from all over the world. It’s the very image of a contemporary Christmas. 

For we Londoners, 2012 has been an incredible year, for obvious reasons, but nothing quite tops the icing on the cake than a great festive season. I’m a working man, and my blog, as with my art, takes second place, sadly, in my day to day activities, and therefore I have been unable to go skating, to traipse around the shops for hours on end, nor to meander around the allegedly popular winter wonderland in Hyde Park. However, with what hours I have spared, I have noticed a tangible sparkle of festive feeling laying upon every facet of London like a sprinkle of freshly laid snow. And I’m loving it. So, I decided to share a few of my haphazardly shot photos and Christmassy experiences so that you too can share in the festive spirit which is cursing through the city.

The lights on Regent Street

The lights on Regent Street

In its shopping, London is practically unrivalled, and for Christmas splendour, the shopping districts and large department stores know how to lay on a show. The other night I headed to Covent Garden market which, despite being almost paralysed by cold, sparkled like a finely polished diamond. Inside the giant market, huge oversized baubles hang intermittently between giant disco balls and the permanent elegant iron lighting. Meanwhile, in the market square is a huge tree in an even bigger pot, while besides it, mulled wine stalls and hoards of shoppers help to make this one of the most festive areas of London.

Covent Garden market

Covent Garden market

Covent Garden's tree

Covent Garden’s tree


As for me, well I met my dear friend Celia for dinner not far from the market – we headed to the Green Man and French Horn in St Martins Lane – an intimate french affair in the setting of an old pub, with low cosy lighting and some pretty hearty food – I had a feather-blade beef which almost melted away on my tongue when washed down with its rich wine sauce and our accompanying bottle of vin.

Talking of food, a few days before, my friends Cassandra, Jeremy and I headed off to trendy Islington in the North of the city, again an area of London giving boast to some excellent shopping, as well as the slightly more niche antiques and interiors market. However, it wasn’t our homes we went to indulge – rather, we were headed for Feast, a large undercover Christmas food festival, set within the very ramshackled surroundings of the old post office sorting offices, which made for quite the industrial contrast with the very popular festive spectacle below, as stalls from many a local restaurant offered a rich variety of culinary oblation, from glorious cupcakes (pictured), spicy asian cuisine, seared thai beef and mexican enchilladas, to gourmet burgers, Spanish chorizo sandwiches and fluffy pork buns. As for us, well, apart from and perhaps instead of the aforesaid, we managed to gorge more upon the liquid libations provided, from mulled wine, to mulled cider, to mulled wine again. Nothing makes one merry and festive quicker, particularly at 1 in the afternoon.


IMG_2317Back to the shops, and none can doubt the breadth and variety of Christmas shopping on offer in this great city, not to mention the decorative supremacy of the city’s most established shops. In Selfridges, one of my favourite department stores, the 5-floor high galleries are hung with huge dinging bells, which move up and down all day long, bonging a gentle, almost hallucinogenic Christmas tune. In both Harrods and Liberty, Christmas decorations fill a generous proportion of the shop floor space, and queues for the latest quirky bauble wind around the stores. However, for the best decorations, Fortnum and Mason, my favourite of all London shops, does simply the best in my view. Pictured are some of the white decorations they had this year, but just look at their lavish tree and old fashioned staircase. What I would give to import this entire set up into my sadly staircase-less flat! Meanwhile, with the decorations bought and wrapped, head around the corner to Regent street, where a lightshow worthy of the 3 Kings themselves awaits, strung across the busy shopping streets below.

Selfridges bells

Selfridges bells

and Fortnums decorations

and Fortnums decorations

No overview of London’s Christmas would be complete without a quick mention of those wonderful ice rinks. My favourite has to be the rink set within the glorious confines of Somerset House on the banks of the Thames. With flame torches flickering around the blue glowing ice and the imposing facades of the Somerset House quadrant standing majestically all around, this has to be the picture perfect Christmas scene. It’s so good in fact that when studying at King’s College London next door some 10 years ago, I painted my very own homage to the ice rink (below). See also the rink outside the spectacular gothic palace that houses the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. This again creates a remarkable backdrop to an intrinsically festive scene.



Ice Skating at Somerset House (acrylic on canvas, 2002 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Ice Skating at Somerset House (acrylic on canvas, 2002 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

But while being out in the frosty busy streets of London is all very well, at the end of it all, there’s nothing quite like home. This very evening I have just finished gorging upon wooden platters loaded with fresh cheeses, festive chutneys, smoked salmon and ham, while with friends round for the evening, we toasted christmas with champagne in one hand and mulled wine in the other. For Christmas in the city is the jolliest place to be, but share it with friends and loved ones, and Christmas will truly have come home.


Tomorrow, as if you haven’t had enough already, I just have to share more photos of my Christmas decorations, candles, installations and more. See you then.