New look at the Nativity.

Bath Abbey has taken a contemporary approach to the traditional nativity scene this Christmas.

Artist, Annette Smith in the Birde Chapel. Photos © DeborahJColeman/BathAbbey.
Artist, Annette Smith in the Birde Chapel.
Photos © DeborahJColeman/BathAbbey.

An installation by artist and Bath Spa University graduate, Annette Smith, reinterprets the scene of the birth of Jesus using a 3-D photographic urban landscape instead of the usual crib and figurines.

Commenting on the installation, Edward Mason, Rector of Bath Abbey, said: “Traditional nativity scenes have a special place in our Christmas celebrations and worship. However, from time to time it’s good to be reminded that the first Christmas was an ordinary birth to an ordinary couple. In Annette Smith’s crib we see the ordinary scenes of Bath. These are buildings we know and the people are those who live and work here.

This modern and beautifully-made Crib reminds us that at the first Christmas extraordinary things happened to those ordinary people and if we visit the crib in the Abbey the same thing might happen to us!”

 The ‘Bath Abbey crib’ will be on display in the Abbey’s Birde Chapel throughout December until Monday 5 January. Photos © DeborahJColeman/BathAbbey.
The ‘Bath Abbey crib’ will be on display in the Abbey’s Birde Chapel throughout December until Monday 5 January. Photos © DeborahJColeman/BathAbbey.

The artist, Annette Smith, who also is a part-time member of staff at the Abbey, said: “I first made this nativity Crib for Bath Abbey in 2009 where it was placed in one of the side chapels. I’m pleased to say after a few years’ absence, it is now back in the Abbey – this time in the beautiful Birde Chapel where it is particularly fitting as people can get right up close to it.

Based on the 17th century Neapolitan tradition, my version of the crib shows a distinctly urban scene. People are going about their daily activities and can be found talking on a mobile, eating burgers, and shopping. But, some people have noticed something extraordinary is going on. As the viewer, you are invited to go on a journey through the scene, to look for and discover the holy family for yourself.”

The ‘Bath Abbey crib’ will be on display in the Abbey’s Birde Chapel throughout December until Monday 5 January.

Bath-based artist Annette Smith works across the boundaries of paint, print and photography and is interested in the passage of time and its relationship to lived experience.

One of her long-term projects is in response to the several old faded shop signs around Bath, where the narrative of the city is being slowly erased or eroded.

She has a first in Fine Art from Bath Spa University and has exhibited in London, Bristol and locally. Her web-site is www.annettesmith.weebly.com

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