Abbozzo Contemporary Art Gallery

The Mummer's Veil

an exhibition of the works of David Blackwood
March 29 to April 22, 2003
Opening Reception March 29, 2:00 to 5:00 pm

The origin of the Christmas tradition of 'Mummering' can be traced back to celebrations of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Middle Ages, and these traditions were probably derived from much earlier Druidic rituals surrounding the winter solstice. Mummering began on the night of Boxing Day and continued until January 6. Groups of mummers would wander from village to village at night, playing the fool and calling on a house with a measured, ceremonial knock and the invocation "Any mummers allowed in?" The mummers would be admitted to the kitchen and questioned to guess their identity. Once their true identity was guessed they were required to throwback the veil or mask and expose or 'unveil'. They would then be offered a drink or their 'Christmas' a plate of cakes and a glass of cordial. In repayment the mummers were expected to entertain before they headed out for the next house. 

Very rarely you would hear reports of a 'Lone Mummer' appearing in a remote community as it was hard to imagine anyone undertaking such a visit alone in the dead of winter. In fact, this kind of sighting was a dreaded event, which stirred ancient and instinctive superstitions against outsiders, the archetype of the 'Stranger'. A lone mummer was so unlikely and threatening that it was always referred to as a 'Spirit' and was a certain sign of impending death in the New Year. Actual encounters with lone mummers did happen once or twice every ten years. 

The home-made entertainments in Newfoundland began to disappear with the arrival of radio and television. By the time the National Film Board came to Wesleyville to make the film 'Blackwood' in 1973, mummering had disappeared entirely and was re-enacted for the film.

-excerpt from 'Mummering in Newfoundland' by David Blackwood.

Beautiful_Young_Mummer_in_Margaret_Felthams_House_Artists_Proof_1985_20_x_16_inches.jpg (14311 bytes)
Beautiful Young Mummer in Margaret Feltham's House
Etching and aquatint1985
20 X 16 inches
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Lone Mummer Approaching
1976 Etching and aquatint
20 X 32 inches

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Lone Mummer with Cat
Etching with aquatint 1987
28 X 22 inches

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Study for Lone Mummer with Cat: Head
1987, Etching and aquatint
11 x 14 inches

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Great Mummer Unveiled
2002 Etching and aquatint
12 X 18 inches

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Study for Lone Mummer with Cat: Hands
 1987, Etching and aquatint
11 x 14 inches 

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Lone Mummer Inside
1979 Etching and aquatint
28 X 22 inches

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Mummer Family at the Door
1985 Etching and aquatint
36 X 24 inches

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Mummer in Lantern Light
1993 Etching and aquatint
14 X 11 inches

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Young Mummer from Wesleyville
1983 Etching and aquatint
14 X 11 inches

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Pound Cove Mummers Crossing Cold Harbour Pond,
1985 Etching and aquatint
20 x 32 inches

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Mummer Group from Pound Cove
1975 Etching and aquatint
8 X 10 inches

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Young Mummer Dressing
1976 Etching and aquatint
11 X 14 inches

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Three Mummers on Winsor's Point
1979 Etching and aquatint
20 X 32 inches

Study_for_Lone_Mummer_with_Cat-_Moon_Edition_50_of_50_1987_11_x_14_inches.jpg (24125 bytes)
Study for Lone Mummer with Cat: Moon
1987, Etching and aquatint
11 x 14 inches

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Self Portrait as a Young Mummer
2002, Oil tempera on panel
 20 x 16 inches.

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Fallen Mummer on Brookfield Marsh
1996 Etching and aquatint
9 X 12 inches

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Study for Fallen Mummer on Brookfield Marsh
1996 Pencil on Paper
137/8 X 193/4 inches

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Study for Heber Fifield as a Great Mummer
2000 Etching and aquatint
14 X 11 inches

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Portrait of Heber Fifield as a Great Mummer
2000 Etching and aquatint
36 X 24 inches

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Old Mummer Unveiled
1983 Etching and aquatint
5 x 31/2 inches

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Mummer at Dresser
1986 Pencil on Paper
19 X 213/4 inches

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Pound Cove Mummer Unveiled
2003 Pencil on paper
 101/4 x 81/2 inches

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Elijah Mullett as a Mummer Unveiled
2003 Ink drawing on paper
8 x 133/4 inches

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Pound Cove Mummer
2001 Pen drawing
97/8 x 73/8 inches

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Study for Lone Mummer
1970 Pencil on paper
/2 x 91/4 inches

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Nana Bishop as a Mummer Unveiled
2001 Pen Drawing
77/8 X 133/4 inches

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