Glencairn Abbey Cards

How we chose our 2019 Christmas card range

Having decided that our Glencairn Abbey Christmas cards this year would be a Sr Paula Kiersey retrospecctive, we delved into the Card Department archives. It was an exciting, even stunning, experience! Between about 1955 and 1980 Sr Paula produced well over sixty different designs, all of them beautiful, rich, and of high artistic quality. Though our records unfortunately do not indicate the year when each card was first produced, it is possible to suggest earlier, middle, and later periods, judging by both the artistic style and the kind of paper/card and the printing techniques used in the samples that we retain.

With so rich a selection at our disposal, the problem was to choose which ones to include this year! Eventually three criteria guided our selection.

First, a range of themes: we chose one each of a design portraying the Virgin and Child, the Holy Family, the infant Jesus alone (we included two of these, one English and one Irish), angels, the shepherds, the Magi, the flight into Egypt, an illustrated capital (typical of Sr Paula’s designs – in the end we included two), and a general greeting.

Second, a range of artistic styles: the busy, full-frame designs of Sr Paula’s earliest period (e.g. the angel choir and shepherds cards), the simple lines of the Holy Family and flight into Egypt, her distinctive infant Jesus, the hatching and fun designs of the Magi and Noël cards, and the icon-style Virgin and Child, probably from her later period when she was moving towards dedicating herself completely to writing icons.

Third, printing practicalities: it proved challenging to reproduce some of the earliest of Sr Paula’s cards, as standard paper and envelope sizes have changed and either the designs would need to be tweaked or we would have to move into non-standard formats (meaning more expensive cards). We chose to avoid that for this year, but will investigate the possibilities going forward.

Our archives contain many beautiful designs by Sr Paula which are not included this year – but we intend to build up the collection and reintroduce these in the future.

Enjoy the range, and have fun selecting which you will send this year!

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