I know it’s entirely unseasonal, if a little unsettling to think about. But if you have children and live in Lewes, you probably know the Landsdowne Place Christmas window.
Some kindly person on this street blocks their own precious-at-this-time-of-year light by filling their window with the most fantastical Christmas scene. I happen to have a picture of it, taken well before I started this blog.
It shows an open-fronted Alpine-style dolls house surrounded by cotton wool wadding (snow), little figures (mostly gentle-faced Sylvanian Families), mini glitter-studded Christmas trees, and roaring fires.
I can’t remember many more details, but every year we go and look at it. Several times.
The kindly person includes a note saying parents are welcome to let their children sit or stand on his or her windowsill so that they can have a good look. This generosity, surely, is the very essence of the Christmas spirit. I’ll be posting about it with lots of close-ups come the relevant time.
Transporting us all back to the now of early July, I’ll explain why I was reminded of this beautiful gift to Lewes’s children. It was something we stumbled across yesterday morning, when walking along Landsdowne Place.
It is of an open book with some rabbits popping out of it. Nearby are toadstools and more rabbits. They’re made of all sorts of things.
Taped to the window is an explanation that this is artist Seemah Austin‘s ‘Catawumpus’. It’s a word she found in the book ‘The Snow Child‘ by Eowyn Ivey and it sums up how she makes things from all sorts of materials, ‘from clays and fabrics and precious metals, to things forgotten, lost, without a use.’
Austin’s inspiration comes from ‘fragmented dreams and childhood tales, folklore, fairies, the forest and the magic on its darkening edge’.
My son was fascinated by these rabbits. We talked about them together.
What were they doing in the window? Were they watching passers-by or were they part of a story? Who made them? And why did she put them there? Why were the rabbits coming out of that book? Did I think they were a family of rabbits, or just friends? Did I think the book was about them or was it just where they lived? Were the toadstools poisonous?
I like that in Lewes there are these tiny theatres. That people are making stages of their windows, encouraging us to peer in, instead of closing their curtains so that we walk on by.
I’d like the people on Landsdowne Place, who have taken time and imagination putting these windows together, to know that we spend time really looking at them.
That they’re feeding my children’s imaginations. And I’m sure, those of many others.
That they’re giving us something to stop and talk about. That they give us a reason to pause in our endless rushing from A to B.
If any of you know the kindly person who makes the Christmas window, I’d love to be put in touch. I would like to talk to him/her about it come the time, and do a detailed post about it.