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HomeEventsNew Santa Claus themed exhibition opens in Wembley Park

New Santa Claus themed exhibition opens in Wembley Park

Wembley Park has unveiled its latest cultural venture with “From Saint to Santa,” an outdoor exhibition that traces the captivating evolution of Santa Claus through the centuries.

The exhibition, which opened on December 11, features 32 artworks, including an original AI-generated piece, displayed across light boxes in Wembley Park’s Arena Square, adjacent to the iconic Grade II listed OVO Arena Wembley.

“From Saint to Santa” takes visitors on a historical journey through the origins of the modern Santa Claus, exploring its roots in Norse Yule celebrations, the Roman Saturnalia festival, and the Christian Saint Nicholas. The images delve into early spirituality, the Reformation, and the transformation of Santa into the familiar, jolly figure we recognise today. The exhibition sheds light on Santa Claus’ less cheerful companions, such as the demon-like Krampus in central Europe and Knecht Ruprecht from German folklore.

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The outdoor photography exhibition meticulously examines the amalgamation of two distinct figures, Father Christmas and Santa Claus, and traces the origins of iconic characteristics like the red suit, rosy cheeks, gift-giving, and the reindeer-pulled flying sleigh. It explores the influence of literary figures like Washington Irving and Clement Clarke Moore, as well as artists such as Thomas Nast and Norman Rockwell, in transforming Santa from a serious, saintly figure into the jolly character we know today.

New Santa Claus themed exhibition opens in Wembley Park Harrow Online
‘From Saint to Santa’, Wembley Park
Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

Claudio Giambrone, Exhibition Curator and Producer, Wembley Park said, “I am immensely proud to present this new exhibition in Wembley Park. The figure of Santa Claus carries a universal message of generosity and kindness that spans eras and cultures – and is today more resonant than ever.

“It’s a fascinating tapestry that blends traditions and local customs in ways one wouldn’t expect – from Northern European gods to ancient Rome, through the lenses of Christianity and modern-day advertising. This is a story for everyone, young and old, and I hope visitors leave with a better understanding of the enduring symbol of Santa Claus and the joy he brings to people around the world.”

“From Saint to Santa” also delves into the evolution of Santa’s portrayal in consumer culture, scrutinising the impact of advertising and modern popular culture on shaping today’s Santa iconography. Embracing Wembley Park’s commitment to celebrating diversity and global unity through art, the exhibition goes beyond Western traditions to explore how Santa is represented in non-Western cultures, highlighting the universal appeal and adaptability of this beloved figure.

In addition to its historical focus, the exhibition offers a forward-looking perspective by investigating the future of Santa. It contemplates the influence of emerging technologies and evolving cultural perspectives and sensitivities on this timeless character.

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