For our final advent offering, I thought I’d follow on from yesterday’s blog, where we looked at nativity images from around the world, with another contextual nativity scene that is flavoured with the artist’s own cultural location. This one has a special place in my heart, as it is a nativity with a bit of a Scottish flavour. It’s by Scots artist William Bell Scott and, when I was home in Edinburgh recently, I was fortunate enough to see it ‘in the flesh’ in the National Gallery of Scotland. Scott locates the nativity scene, not in Bethlehem, but in Penkill, Ayrshire, where he was staying at the time of this composition. Some of the traditional nativity iconography is present – they byre, the animals, the holy family, and the angels (who are sitting rather nonchalantly with the birds in the rafters of the byre). A procession of shepherds make their way towards a rather nervous looking Mary (Joseph meanwhile appears rather disinterested in events, his nose stuck in a book). You’ll see they are followed up at the rear by a piper playing the bagpipes, another wee dash of Scottishness added by Bell to this traditional nativity scene. In the distance, the magi make their decorous way towards the byre, It looks as though a a rather jolly celebration will soon be in full swing.
And so we reach the end of our advent calendar for 2014. I do hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we’ve enjoy doing it. From all of us in Theology at Auckland, we wish you and yours a happy festive time and hope to see you for more bloggings in 2015.