Dec 13 2011: Forty Images from Well Dressing in Derbyshire by Roy Christian (Derbyshire Countryside, 1991)

A selection of illustrations from a 1991 booklet looking at the tradition of well-dressing in the Derbyshire peaks through spring and early summer, these 40 or so photographs show well dressings featuring mainly Biblical illustrations, but whose subjects can also extend from nursery rhymes, popular culture, civic and topical subjects, to tributes in memory of school founders, local dignitaries and such historical figures as Vincent Van Gogh and Thomas Cranmer. Thought to be survivals or Christianized adaptations of older pagan well-dressing customs, the technique – of placing the short stems of cut flowers into wet clay, in order that the moisture can preserve their blooms while the dressings are on display – goes back many years, and continues to be modernised in terms of the subjects covered. There have even been a few examples of bringing contemporary spins on well-dressing into cities and larger towns in the area, with the artist Jon Burgerman creating one in his own distinctive style for Derby Market Square back in June 2007 during the construction of QUAD.

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