Archive for the ‘symbolism & celebration’ Category

The Christmas Card Project

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

With Christmas almost here, and our cards nearly all out in the mail, I thought it would be nice to tell you about our Christmas Card Project, which has been going now for the past eight years.

In 2005, we decided to play our part in encouraging young artists and designers by helping to bring their work to a wider audience.

So, we envisaged a “virtual gallery”, in which Christmas cards, which seemed to be becoming a dying ritual, would be treated like artwork, and sent out every year with a different young artist’s work. The result would then become a virtual exhibition. In the long artistic tradition of limited edition prints, where only a certain number of prints of a particular design are ever made, and each one is personally numbered in pencil, we made this our model.

The first artist we chose was a recently graduated art student, Laura Amos (now working mainly in photography), whose work we discovered at the Graduate Exhibition of Adelaide College of the Arts. I was blown away by her huge black and white abstract painting which dominated the exhibition and had in spades what every gallery curator looks for: wall presence. When Laura agreed to provide an art piece for the cards, she was given a free choice of subject matter, but when I told her of my family tradition of collecting nutcrackers every Christmas, she chose the Nutcracker theme, and we have stuck to it every year since.

The idea is simple: Find a young artist who interests us, vary the style and medium every year, print a limited number of cards and send them out to as wide an audience of family, friends, clients and associates as we can.

The brief is simple too: The cards must be black and white, they must not be “schmaltzy” or sentimental, and they must be an interpretation of the The Nutcracker story by ETA Hoffmann, which was made famous by the Tchaikovsky Ballet of the same name.

Every card is hand numbered and handmade, and every card features the artist’s signature and their biography on the back cover.

Last year we upped the ante by asking a street artist to paint a black and white mural on a wall. It was a hard act to follow!

But this year we think we’ve upped it even more. This year’s artist is Emily Seidel, who has a particular passion for fabric, and her design, based on wood prints of the 1800’s has been painstakingly hand printed on fabric, in a process that has been through three separate printing stages. All up, I estimate that each handmade card has been touched 8 times in different stages of production including by the artist, the printer, and the card designer who is responsible for putting it all together. And this doesn’t include the hand written message!

When we have 10 designs, we plan to hold an actual exhibition of the cards.

In a world where Christmas can often become a tacky, material event of excess or greed, and where most Christmas greetings are now sent electronically, we hope that by holding this building mini exhibition of work, thought and hope that the young artists bring, and that our friends and colleagues can touch, keep and collect, we are keeping alive some of the original meaning of Christmas, which is a story of hope and sharing.

We wish all our clients, friends, associates and partners, in Australia and across the world, a very Happy Christmas, and a wonderful and prosperous 2013!


Stephen Kohl, Lynette Jensen and the other directors & staff at Genesys Australia



Bio for Emily Seidel


Emily Seidel lives in Sydney and has had an interest in design, art and fabric since she was very young. With a particular eye for pattern, shape, line and unusual texture, she brings a wide Australian cultural experience of living in various country and city locations to her work, which seems to be also underpinned by the aesthetic of her German ancestry.

We asked Emily to design our 2012 Nutcracker Christmas card because we like her interesting design eye and her feel for fabric, and we were interested to see how an artist drawn to texture, with a German heritage, would interpret the German Christmas fairytale The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffmann, which was made famous by the Tchaikovsky ballet of the same name.

We are delighted by the result. Emily’s dark, mysterious and layered design is inspired not only by The Nutcracker tale, but also by European woodcuts from the 1800’s. The design, through its layers, mixed media and texture, evokes feelings and dream-like images of deep European winters when families were closed in and longing for the return of the sun, and told each other stories like The Nutcracker to bide their time and express their fear of darkness, while they waited patiently for the return of spring.

This is the underlying historical origin of Christmas – a winter’s tale, and a story of hope.

Lynette Jensen

Related posts:

St. Nicholas & The Christmas Season

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

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Easter Time: Celebration & Symbolism

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Easter time is one of my favourite times of year, because in Australia around Easter the light is gentle, crisp and golden. In contrast to its underlying symbolism and meaning, Easter in the Southern Hemisphere is in autumn and in Australia there is a mellowness and relief in the air, as though the earth is resting from the intensity of summer, and gently closing itself in, in preparation for the hibernation of winter soon to come.

Easter itself is a celebration of spring and resurrection. Like Christmas, Christianity’s association with Easter came much later than its deep pre-Christian roots and symbolism.

In Christianity, the three days of Easter reflect and remember the story of the death of Jesus. Good Friday represents the day Jesus was put to death by the Romans, and so is a day of sorrow, and Easter Sunday is a day of rejoicing because in the Christian story, Jesus was resurrected two days after his death.

Tales of resurrection are not confined to Christianity. The Ancient Greeks, for instance, celebrated the story of Adonis, and carried effigies of his body through the streets in his honour, the Egyptians had the story of Osiris, and there are resurrection stories in many cultures including Scandinavian and Indigenous American and Australian cultures. The Graeco-Roman hero Heracles (Hercules) descended into Hades and returned, and was later rewarded with immortality by the gods.

Resurrection stories reflect the seasons of the earth and the cycle of life. Food crops are our main human source of sustenance, and these are closely and directly tied to the seasons. Spring is a time of replanting and renewal, and is a time of rejoicing after a long period of winter months of hardship and hibernation. The warmth and promise of spring enliven us and give us optimism and energy.

All the symbols of Easter then are symbols of fertility, resurrection and celebration. Eggs symbolise imminent rebirth, rabbits symbolise fertility, hot-cross buns which are traditionally eaten by Christians on Good Friday, represent the abundant use of dried fruits which historically got us through winter and which can be used up extravagantly with the return of spring and the coming of fresh fruit. Western and some other Christians have added decorative crosses to symbolise Christian understanding of death and resurrection. The bright colours with which we paint and now wrap eggs is a symbol of our collective joy at the return of spring and the “rebirth” of the earth following the “death” of winter.

The instinct for celebration and symbolism is central to our human psyche and keeps us alive, optimistic and looking forward. Whether we’re Christian or not, celebration and symbolism make us who we are as individuals, cultural groups and as a species.

Happy Easter!

And if you’re in the mood for irony, here’s a spoof Goo Egg ad!


Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

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NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.