Yes, I was asked to design a Christmas crib for the local church. It’s a couple of years ago now but – talk about a controversy – and I didn’t even realise that I was being “radical”.
I built the crib out of cardboard – my thinking was that if Mary and Joseph came to Dublin these days and, if there was ‘no room at the inn’, they might end up trying to construct some sort of rudimentary shelter out of discarded cardboard boxes. And I was thinking that it must’ve been desperately worrying for them, about to have a baby and no place to stay.
But in my case, since the crib figures were stored in cardboard boxes, I simply stacked up the boxes and stretched a roll of corrugated cardboard over the top to make a roof. I added old newspapers for insulation (these happened to be from the property pages of the Irish Times, hee hee). But once I added the straw, it looked like a crib. Nice.
Well no, not nice. The flower arrangers weren’t happy. The church cleaners weren’t happy. The gardener wasn’t happy, and goodness knows who else wasn’t happy. Would you believe that they started a petition to have it removed from the church! (mmm, I wonder can one be excommunicated for building a bad crib?) But why weren’t they happy? I reckon it was the ivy, or should I say: the lack of ivy. A traditional crib has ivy, lots of ivy, running up and down the walls, draping over the roof, all around where the shepherds stand, (or so they tell me) But I dunno, I would say that it’s the straw that makes the crib. Once I put the straw there, it just felt like a crib. I got this big bag of straw from a farm in South Kilkenny. It smelt lovely.
Do you think it needs ivy?
PS: I suppose this crib came about because I’ve been making art on the theme of Homelessness during the last few years. Check out