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Carols by Candlelight is such a lovely Australian Christmas tradition.  Last week my art blog and painting featured the acrylic painting of Swedish Lucia which was used for Project mapping on the Swedish Embassy in Poland see this story 205 Projection Mapping & Art in Animation This week however the artwork is a wall based sculpture and made from handmade ceramic and mosaic and captures my memories of the Carols by Candlelight celebration in Elder Park here in Adelaide.

a family sitting on a picnic blanket singing carols by candlelight with the audience in mosaic and ceramic

The art of singing carols by candlelight in Elder Park


The history of the tradition heralds back to the 19th century in Moonta, South Australia where the Cornish Miners would get together on Christmas Eve with candles stuck to the brims of their safety hats and sing Christmas carols.

The tradition then spread to Victoria and Melbourne and was made popular by a radio personality named Norman Banks.  According to Wikipedia,  Norman was walking home from his night time radio job when he walked past an elderly woman sitting up in bed listening to Christmas carols being sung on the radio.  The woman’s face was lit by candlelight as she sang along and this made Norman wonder how many other people spent Christmas alone.  This in turn gave him the idea and the first ever event was organized in Alexandra Garden Christmas 1938 where 10,000 people attended.

artist marie jonsson harrison dressed in red with artworks by her father ted jonsson and bronwen roodenrys on her way to carols by candlelight

Artist Marie Jonsson Harrison on her way to Carols by Candlelight


These days we celebrate Carols by Candlelight all over Australia in all the capital cities and smaller country towns and they are held on many different dates all throughout December.   The tradition has now spread around the world and people gather usually outdoors in parks and sing carols in choirs and usually accompanied by bands.  Lots of talented artists both very famous and up and coming stars do the rounds of the different shows and they are compared for the most part by Radio and Television personalities.  The audience of course sing along and everyone has a candle or two which they hold up and sway from side to side with the music at times, a very atmospheric sight.


The Adelaide event was sponsored this year by Woolworths with the funds raised going to the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation due to the hardworking Marta Harbuzinska, Christina and Natalie Angus and their team and some of the acts featured here were Samantha Jade,  The Collective as well as Humphrey Bear.


As a family we started going to the open concert after our son Kai was born and have only missed a few along the way.  We used to arrive early in the afternoon to stake our claim on a spot close to the stage put down a picnic blanket with a basket full of delicious goodies and lovely wine.  It was a quite a few hours wait before the show began at sunset and we would take turns to head up to the city to shop and walk about.  These days we arrive a little later but it is still something we look forward to very much.  However there was one year that nearly turned us off for life when the weather suddenly changed and turned so nasty we thought we would freeze to death, lol.  We still talk about how the coldness that night was equal to shopping down Canal Street in New York at Christmas time, well nearly anyway!  All wonderful memories for more sculptures, paintings and artworks in the future.

detail of stage and audience of carols by candlelight as a wall based sculpture in mosaic and ceramic

Singalong to Carols by Candlelight


So next year if you haven’t been go along to your nearest Carols by Candlelight no matter what religion or culture you come from it is a lovely event for all concerned.

So here is a quote I think fits well here by Earl Nightingale;  “We all walk in the dark and each of us must learn to turn on his or her own light”

Till next time happy painting and sculpting and maybe carol singing to you all.

Love Marie xxx

Why not come and have a look at Marie Jonsson-Harrison’s PAINTINGS FOR SALEGICLEE PRINTS FOR SALEand SCULPTURES for sale or WALLBASED SCULPTURES.  Enjoy an original artwork on your walls or perhaps one on your bed ARTnBED.

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