W.G. Burn Murdoch, “Winter”

W.G. Burn Murdoch, “Winter”

W.G. Burn Murdoch’s “Winter” was published in the fourth volume of The Evergreen. The magazine intentionally produced full-page black-and-white images as stand-alone works of art in order to assert the art as independent of the textual content of The Evergreen. Art in the magazine was intended to function as texts in their own right.

The Evergreen sought to emulate the school of art centred in Ramsay Garden situated in Edinburgh Old Town where the magazine was published. Geddes even commissioned students and teachers to paint murals in Ramsay Garden that featured legendary and historic Scottish stories and people on the walls of his flat and the common room of the university residence. Murdoch’s “Winter” is enclosed in a frame that emblematizes the mural-like qualities of the murals in Ramsay Garden.

The image also adds a religious quality to the pastoral scene. Winter is personified as a woman guiding a cherub through a natural setting. Winter, then, becomes a feminized figure who embodies nature and who possesses an autonomy within the natural world. As a result, the female body becomes a symbol of female autonomy where Murdoch grants authority to the female figure and the female body.

The accompanying cherub and Winter’s godly appearance also enable Murdoch’s image to be associated with Christianity. Thus, the Celtic Revival and the pastoral become a part of a religious setting in “Winter”. Murdoch creates Winter as a female figure who is imbued with an autonomy within the natural environment, but Winter’s religious characterization embodies her as the divine. As a result, the female body becomes a symbol of female religious autonomy where Murdoch grants a religious authority to the female figure. Murdoch demonstrates that female authority exists within a natural setting, therefore asserting that a reinvigorated modern society should possess a degree of matriarchal authority as a naturalistic approach to societal structure.

Works Cited

Claes, Konraad. “What to Naturalists is known as Symbiosis: Literature, Community, and Nature in The Evergreen,” Scottish Review, vol. 4, no. 1, 2012, pp. 111 – 129.

Carmichael, E. K. The Elements of Celtic Art. An Comumn Gaidhealach, 1922, deriv.nls.uk/dcn23/7903/79033653.23.pdf.

Kooistra, Lorraine Janzen. “General Introduction to The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal, Evergreen Digital Edition, Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. http://1890s.ca/the_evergreen_general_introduction/

Kooistra, Lorraine Janzen. “The Politics of Ornament: Remediation and/in The Evergreen.” ESC: English Studies in Canada, vol. 41 no. 1, 2015, pp. 105 – 128. Project Muse, doi:10.1353/esc.2015.0004.