The Chichester Nativity

The Chichester Nativity is an immersive art installation which heralds the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the local community and across the counties of East and West Sussex.

The artwork, created by Visual Arts Advisor and Curator Jacquiline Creswell and Artist and Photographer Ash Mills, is a large-scale photographic installation, sharing the familiar story of the Nativity in the style of a renaissance tableau.

Characters in the scene were drawn from local organisations, charities and medical services and paired symbolically to the roles within the Nativity, 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 in late 2021, before being edited into the composite image. 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 Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Further information about the participants can be found here and by using the link below.

Earlier this year the artwork was shortlisted for the Best Partnership of the Year Award, as part of the Museums + Heritage Awards 2021. This will be the final presentation of the artwork at the Cathedral, so be sure to plan your visit to the Cathedral before the 2nd February 2022.

The Chichester Nativity forms part of the Cathedral's diverse programme of services, music, visual arts and digital experiences responding to the theme: 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1.5).


About the artwork

The artwork is on display from 16th December 2021 - 2nd February 2022. Entry to the Cathedral is free, however donations are welcome. We encourage you to plan your visit in advance to avoid disappointment.

The photographic artwork is printed onto sheer voile banners and hung principally above the Cathedral’s historic Arundel Screen, leading into the Nave and Baptistry. Visitors to the Cathedral will be taken on a journey:

  • The first voile banner is situated over the Cathedral’s John Skelton font in the Baptistry, welcoming visitors with their first glimpse of the biblical story of Christmas, depicting angels in heaven leading the way.
  • An 11-meter-long voile banner will then come into view, vaulted above the Nave, directing the viewer to the Arundel Screen, but also providing uplifting images of heaven as we raise our eyes to meet it. 
  • 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.
The Chichester Nativity
The Chichester Nativity
The Chichester Nativity
The Chichester Nativity
The Chichester Nativity