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A Modern Nativity

Nine British artists were asked to give a modern interpretation of the familiar Nativity scene. We’ve chosen three of our favourites.

From left to right – Rebecca Warren – Mike Figgis – Mark Wallinger. Click to see a larger photo, click on the back arrow in the browser to get back here.

Full slideshow here – artists-christmas-nativity-scenes

Rebecca Warren

‘Usually I use existing pictures of cats from various sources in my work. This time, I have used a picture of a turkey family (by David Guralnick) that I found on a turkey website’ Photograph: David Guralnick

Mike Figgis

‘These are traditional Moroccan toy figures that I saw in a market in Marrakech. The Father Christmas one caught my eye – the stall was obviously catering to the western market – so I asked the stallholder if I could borrow some figures to make my scene. I took lots of photgraphs and then Photoshopped them together. The figures are made from a strange material a bit like leather, and some of them have no faces – which makes them look eerie, a bit like Darth Vader. I drew faces on Mary and Joseph to make them look more friendly. I had to make the baby Jesus myself out of toilet paper, gift-wrap and the string from a bar of hotel-room soap’. Photograph: Michael Figgis

Mark Wallinger

‘This image is taken from a proposal I made for a nativity at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London. I didn’t get the commission, but my plan was to install an empty crib in Trafalgar Square over the month of December, and employ 24-hour security to watch over it. The shop-bought crib is a familiar object that betokens thousands of everyday miracles. Employing security for an object that costs only £70 suggests a greater worth. The three guards remind us of the three men from the east, who wait in readiness for the arrival or return of the Messiah – and of the threat posed by Herod in the story. The vulnerability of the naked crib represents both hope and belief, and the fragility of that hope and belief in the modern world. Positioning the crib at the very centre of a great city heightens the sense that we are a world away from the bucolic scene fondly represented in the nativity down the years’. Photograph: Richard Cannon

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Strange Random Christmas Quote:

Nothing’s as mean as giving a little child something useful for Christmas. Kin Hubbard

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