The talented work of Island-based artist Catherine James is showcased in the first miniature sheet of stamps of 2014.
The stamps capture the beautiful flora of the winter months from rose-hips, red holly berries, fir cones, hellebores to frost-lined ivy leaves.
From a very early age Catherine has enjoyed the love of painting. Being the seventh child in a family of eight children, Catherine found it difficult to be heard amongst the constant chatter so tended to say very little but read as many books as she could find and made drawings on any available paper and spent as much time as possible in the woods and fields of Santon.
In the text which accompanies the miniature sheet Catherine reflects on how bleak the Manx winters can be, wet and cold and how "Manannan's mantle of mist" can make it difficult to see further than the bottom of the garden. She remembers waking up on many a winter's morning to windows limned with frost patterns (before central heating) – a magical transformation with the sight of hoar frost-edged leaves, rusty bracken, teasels and sea holly all set against a backdrop of winter lace trees with the glowing colours of rose hips in the hedges. She also recalls the beauty of bright red holly berries with their shining spiked leaves and ivy bowers bearing beautifully aligned fruits that ranged in vibrant colours throughout the cold season.
Commenting on the stamps Catherine said: "I felt very privileged to be asked to design the stamps for the miniature sheet. There is so much beautiful flora in the winter and it's lovely to highlight this in the stamps. Yes a Manx winter can be cold and dark, but it can be incredibly beautiful. Seeing my artwork in its final form as a miniature sheet is very rewarding indeed."
Maxine Cannon, General Manager Isle of Man Stamps & Coins said: "We were thrilled Catherine agreed to design one of our first stamp issues of next year. Her artwork radiates a real wintery feel of the flora that surrounds our Island at this time of year however the colours it displays adds a warm, gentle glow."
To view the Winter Flora miniature sheet and to pre-order please click here
Photo: Local artist Catherine James with the Winter Flora miniature sheet due for release on January 6, 2014.