Cut out for Christmas


Local artist James Valentine has produced a series of linocut Christmas cards which reflect the bright colours associated with the old Norse celebrations of Yule

My working background has always been in education. After moving to London in 1981 I taught art and design in various schools in the East End of London. Since retiring from teaching, I have taught life drawing to adult groups and for four years taught arts and crafts to adults with special needs in Tower Hamlets.

I now enjoy working at home in my studio producing a variety of art pieces. My love of printmaking has led me this year to produce a series of seasonal cards that I have called Yuletide Greetings.

The word ‘Yule’ comes from an old Norse term which referred to a season of hunting after the harvest was done. As it fell in December, it became associated with the Christmas holiday. Bright colours like gold, silver, red, green and white were then adopted into Christian Christmas celebrations.

The technique I have used to produce my artwork is called linoprinting, a type of relief printing using a sharp, V-shaped tool to gouge lines into a piece of lino. An image on paper is achieved when ink is rolled onto the lino block, then burnished onto paper. Durer, Picasso and Warhol are just some of the artists who have used linoprint in their work.

I have exhibited my artwork mainly online and in several establishments on Wanstead High Street and community centres. Returning to education, I have organised murals for school playgrounds and the local library in Forest Gate.

South Woodford has always been a destination place for me to meet friends for coffee and a chat. Indeed, I have been a volunteer at The Childrens’ Society on George Lane for over 12 years. This has been a very rewarding experience in raising awareness and funding for children who require help in many different circumstances. I also hope next year to display my work in the independent coffee shop Tipi, a great place to have a coffee and a cake.

As for the future, I hope to return to an island in the Mediterranean that holds many memories for me. That island is Malta, with its dramatic coastlines ideal for deep-sea diving. I have painted many colourful landscapes there. Being a very Christian island, Malta has many churches, and during the Christmas period, each church celebrates with colourful pageants, processions, fireworks and joyful singing.

James’ Yuletide Greetings cards are available in packs of six for £6, with free local postage. For more information and to order, email jvalentine53@hotmail.co.uk

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