Gillies lived and worked in a cottage in the village of Temple in Midlothian, south of Edinburgh. The village did not have electricity until the 1950s, and as Gillies often painted after dark he used a paraffin lamp to light his still-life compositions. Without natural daylight, this had the effect of producing strong contrasts of colour, and encouraged the artist to simplify shapes. This painting depicts an enclosed world, with no hint of anything beyond the boundaries of the canvas. The perspective is `tipped-up? towards the viewer and the composition is structured in a linear manner, being divided into three sections. Within these sections, Gillies has suggested harmony through the echoing of rhythmic, curved shapes, as seen on the flowers, vase, bowls and seashell.