Giant storytelling Christmas calendar unveiled at University

An opened door in the calendar

An opened door in the calendar

Seasonal artwork bringing together the worlds of folktales and Advent calendars will be unveiled tomorrow (Saturday 1 December 2012) at the University of Sheffield for the month of December, with each window representing a stage in a story derived from classic Russian folktales.

The artwork, entitled Thirty-One, contains 31 doors for each day of December, rather than the usual 24 of advent, and is comprised of 31 individual sculptures by Sheffield artist Geraint Edwards.

The series of 31 eight-inch wooden doors, each adorned with Christmas wreaths, handles and door knockers, will be installed in the wall of the Jessop West foyer on Upper Hanover Street in Sheffield city centre.

The doors will be opened one by one each day, revealing a new stage of the tale. The piece is inspired by Vladimir Propp’s The Morphology of the Folk Tale, written in 1928, which identifies 31 possible elements which all Russian folktales follow. The system has since been used to break down the structures of stories such as North by Northwest and the James Bond novels.

Behind each door is a cross-stitch embroidery of a different stage in a folktale in text form, for example, The hero leaves home or The villain is punished or pardoned.

Geraint explained: "The lack of images stimulates associations and interpretations spontaneously in the audience. Therefore, each day will bring another stage in the telling of an elaborate yet abstract tale, the detail of which is filled in by the viewer.

"The black, glossy frames, the handles, door knockers and wreaths are reminiscent of the Dickensian Victorian aesthetic which permeates so much of our Christmas traditions. The more rustic, wooden door connects us to the world of the folktale. These are the kind of doors that wolves knock on. The use of the cross-stitch text evokes the aesthetic of "Home Sweet Home" and the environment within which such tales are told.

"Christmas is traditionally a time when families gather; when relations come together, stories are told and tales are passed down the generations. The work celebrates traditional familial storytelling through the festive theme of the advent calendar."

The constantly changing nature of the display invites the audience to frequently revisit the piece as it unfolds.

The daily opening of the doors can also be followed at a dedicated blog, which will run for the length of the project:

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