Gary Hume has made a Christmas tree for the Tate Britain. Does it have tinsel? No. Pretty lights? No. Bows and bells and little red ribbons? No. What does it have then? Um, metal blackbirds. Metal blackbirds waiting in the branches with their little metal claws…
"The former Turner Prize nominee chose a traditional Nordmania spruce tree,” explains the Independent, "and decorated it with a flock of hand-painted, stencil-cut birds made from steel plate. "I used friends to help cut them out and spent a week in the studio listening to records and painting the beaks and eyes. All together, I thought they became quite ominous," he said.
The Xmas connection is - blackbirds, unlike other smarter birds, stay in the UK all year round. And then there’s the line in "The 12 Days of Christmas" - the four calling birds in the song are birds as black as coal.
But if you think this seems a bit grim, be thankful that some of the artist’s other concepts didn’t make the grade:
A partridge, bound and gagged, under a pear tree
Two turtle doves – cloned from real turtles / doves
Three overcooked French hens
Five “gold effect” rings from QVC
Six battery geese a-laying
Seven swans a sinking
And don’t get us started about the eight King’s Cross Maid’s a milkin’…
See the Christmas tree at Tate Britain until January the 3rd. Entry is free.