Chichester’s COVID Heroes Immortalised

10th December 2020

Heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic immortalised in a unique presentation of the Nativity.

Local heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic have been immortalised in a unique presentation of the Nativity Story for 2020 unveiled at Chichester Cathedral today.

The Chichester Nativity is a major new art installation and features real people drawn from local organisations, charities and medical services across East and West Sussex, with angels acting as guardians of health and wellbeing; shepherds as providers of food and resources; the Magi as people who have learned from experience and are now leaders of their community.

Each participant was photographed individually, before being edited into the composite image created by Visual Arts Advisor and Curator Jacquiline Creswell, and Artist and Photographer Ash Mills.

Chichester's COVID Heroes Immortalised

The photographic artwork is printed onto sheer voile banners and hung above the Cathedral’s historic Arundel Screen, leading into the Nave and Baptistry.

In the arches on either side of the Arundel Screen we see a traditional scene of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus surrounded by shepherds; the arch on the opposite side of the Screen is filled with scenes and characters in the story. One large banner is located above the Arundel Screen, with characters in the story pointing to the new born child.

The Star of Bethlehem is represented with an image of the recent Neowise comet which visited close by the earth during lockdown and the artwork also incorporates part of Chichester’s 540 year old Market Cross.

Chichester's COVID Heroes Immortalised

The Dean of Chichester, the Very Revd Stephen Waine, said:

“The Chichester Nativity presents a poignant reflection upon the traditional scene familiar to so many. It is an uplifting symbol of our community coming together in a challenging year and will act as a lasting monument to these extraordinary times and the heroes who have done so much to make a difference.”

Visual Arts Advisor and Curator Jacquiline Creswell, said:

“The Nativity scene is one filled with symbolism that conveys an important message at Christmas time. It has been a great joy for myself and Ash to be the creators of these glorious voile banners, which capture the spirit of the season by demonstrating connectedness, unity, love and community in a time of increased separation.”

Artist and Photographer Ash Mills, said:

“It has been a huge pleasure for me to create the images for The Chichester Nativity and to bring to life the vision that Jacquiline and I had for the installation. It was a daunting but rewarding process to create the scenes, with each banner image made up of around 50 layers, including the wonderful cast and everything else from goats to halos!

“It was humbling to be able to feature some of the heroes from the Chichester community in this project, and I hope that they feel being immortalised this way reminds them all of the appreciation we all have for them.”

Participating organisations include: BBC Radio Sussex, the Bell Tower Drop-In, Chichester District Foodbank, Chichester Festival Theatre, Heart, Sanctuary in Chichester, Stagecoach, Stonepillow, Wellington Grange and West Sussex NHS Partnership.

The installation forms part of the Cathedral’s Advent and Christmas campaign Drop Down, Ye Heavens which includes a pre-recorded carol service available through the Cathedral website, live-streamed services and online spiritual resources and activities for children and families to access from home.

Full details of services and activities for Advent and Christmas can be found on the Cathedral’s website.

There are also details and updates on guidance for visiting as a number of changes have been made to ensure those who visit can do so safely, in response to guidance issued by Public Health England, and specific guidance for places of worship from the Church of England.