A Christmas Journey

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The Christmas Story by Eve Licea

December 6, 2018

By Taryn Foss

Our story begins with the story of Christmas. It’s one of the most well-known tales of Western culture. It is a story of miracles, of epic journeys, and the safe and healthy arrival of God’s son into the world. It’s the story on which we’ve based all the holiday traditions we practice this time of year. And no matter what your beliefs may be, you’ve got to admit – it’s a good, multi-layered story that has enjoyed extraordinary staying power.

That is why we’ve chosen to feature this set of four decorative plates here, on display now at the Crèche Festival. On their surfaces, they tell the Christmas Story beautifully. But below the surface, they have their own humble story to tell.

Photo 1_ The Annunciation, 1987
The Annunciation, 1987.

Painted by artist Eve Licea, these plates represent four of a series of six, each portraying a significant scene from the Christmas Story. The scenes depicted in the complete series include The Annunciation (1987), The Nativity (1988), Adoration of the Shepherds (1989), Journey of the Magi (1990), Gifts of the Magi (1991), and Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1992). They were produced by Knowles China in limited edition firings, with one type made per year. Licea’s colourful scenes are striking; they are reminiscent of early 20th century Austrian artist Gustav Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’, while staying true to her signature style with graceful textured ceramic flourishes and use of white space to frame the scenes.

Photo 2_ The Nativity, 1988
The Nativity, 1988.

This fall, the Amis de la Crèche acquired the first four of the series from a dealer in Ontario’s Niagara region. And this, friends, is where the story of their journey to St-Georges begins. We’re not entirely sure where this plate set spent the first decades of their lives, but they must’ve been taken good care of. In October of this year, Diane Dubé saw their sale listing online and knew they were a perfect fit for the Amis’ collection. She purchased them from the Niagara dealer and arranged to have them picked up by her friend Peggy Boyle, a former Recreation Director in this area.

Photo 3_ Adoration of the Shepherds, 1989
Adoration of the Shepherds, 1989.

It was as if meant to be, for October was when Diane hired me as the new WRHM Assistant Director. The very week before I left Toronto to start my new job, my sister just so happened to be passing through the Niagara region, so she did me a favour and collected the plates from Peggy. Through some twist of fate, the dates kept lining up. The pickup went smoothly, and soon enough, I was on my way to Manitoba, plates packed snugly in the trunk of my car. A long journey followed, over thousands of kilometers and two provinces. The plates arrived in St-Georges without incident and are now on display at the 9th Annual Crèche Festival. Was it luck that brought them safely over such a distance or was it the spirit of Christmas?

Photo 4_ Journey of the Magi, 1990
Journey of the Magi, 1990.

How fitting that a set of Christmas Story plates would arrive just in time for Christmas on a journey reminiscent of the Christmas Story itself? It goes to show how Christmas miracles don’t always have to be grand epics. Sometimes the best miracles are also the most humble, bringing with them a feeling of magic and hope in the true spirit of Christmas.

Get into the wonderful Christmas spirit (if you aren’t already!) by visiting the 9th Annual Crèche Festival at Allard Library, on now through January 5, 2019. Pro tip: be sure to check the library hours online when planning your visit!