Sunday 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas - walking tour

Happy Christmas everyone - may God be with you all this special day and we hope this project has encouraged you to find new ways to connect to God, challenging you to re-think traditional worship tools like shrines to find new and interesting ways of using them.

Now that all the shrines are out, you can walk round the city to see them all (or where they used to be) and work off that Christmas food and drink!

This PDF (281Kb) has an overview map and suggested circuit. A second PDF (3Mb) gives more details maps and photos so that you know what to look for.

The shrines are being left out until twelfth night (January 6) to give you time to see them.

Saturday 24 December 2011

December 24th, 2011 - Saturday

Location: Nexus Art Cafe
Designer: Naomi Jackson, fashion designer -

Location Notes: Nexus is a very special not-for-profit cafe - creative, bohemian and working closely with the community that cherishes it. Hosting all sorts of events, educational activities and art exhibitions alongside its core cafe function. It has been the home of Sanctus 1 since its founding, so holds a special place in our hearts.

Shrine Notes: This shrine was created to evoke a sense of fun and celebration. The box itself is wrapped like a large gift, whilst inside the balloons and bunting, party poppers, sweets and birthday cake remind us of childhood birthday parties. Birthday parties are all about valuing a person by acknowledging the day they were born and celebrating their life. Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth, and the fact that His life was God's Gift to the World. The shrine features interactive elements such as a musical candle, sweets and party poppers to take, as well as a card to write messages on.

Designer Notes: As well as conveying a sense of merriment and conviviality, I wanted to hint at the way we often cloud the meaning of Christmas with festive trimmings and paraphernalia. We get lost in the celebration itself as opposed to what or whom we are celebrating. This Christmas, challenge yourself to push past the seasonal hype, the stuff and the things that we all get wrapped up (pun intended) in and take a moment to seek out what Christmas is really all about.

Feel free to write about your thoughts and experiences with this shrine, or how you've seen people using it, as a comment (see below) or tweet @sanctus1mcr.

Friday 23 December 2011

December 23rd, 2011 - Friday

Location: Parsonage Gardens
Designer: Ros Watson, Student Minister

Location Notes: Evidence of Parsonage Gardens exists as far back as 1066. The gardens were used to provide food for the collegiate church in the 14th and 15th centuries. The 18th century brought a new church to the area, which was demolished at the end of the 19th century after city centre residents had moved to the suburbs. Road names in the area reflect this heritage, even Deansgate (which may reference the gate or way to the Dean or to Denys (an early St Mary’s was also dedicated to St Denys and St George)). It is now a hidden gem of the city, providing peace and tranquillity.

Shrine Notes: How many times in the last week have you asked yourself ‘Have I remembered everyone?’ And then a card or a present arrives and you realise you haven’t! The shrine, wrapped as a present, poses that question - lift the flap and see. Maybe take a moment to think about your answer - it’s not too late!

Designer Notes: With all the pressure of Christmas, the cards to write, the presents to buy, the people to see or if you find Christmas a difficult time, the effort to just get through it all can sometimes make it easy to forget who it is all really about. At Christmas God gives to each one of us the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus, as a tiny, vulnerable baby. With this gift God says to you ‘With all my love, always’.

Feel free to write about your thoughts and experiences with this shrine, or how you've seen people using it, as a comment (see below) or tweet @sanctus1mcr.

Thursday 22 December 2011

December 22nd, 2011 - Thursday

Location: St Ann’s church
Designer: Sarah Stuart & Cat Pratt, members of Sanctus 1 -

Location Notes: St Ann’s was consecrated in 1712 and had a remodel in the late 1880s by Alfred Waterhouse (architect of the famously gothic Manchester Town Hall). It is right in the heart of the city and provides for many of the city’s dwellers, shoppers, tourists and workers. It also forms part of the early history of Sanctus 1.

Shrine Notes: This shrine encourages reflection on the Israel-Palestine separation barrier (wall) and the impact it has on the daily lives of Palestinians at they try to access work or medical care. It imagines Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem having yet another obstacle to pass.

Designer Notes: But for the big Christmas fair, this shrine could also have been sited in Piccadilly Gardens, as the stark concrete wall reminds us of a separation barrier.  By placing Mary and Joseph in the context of the separation wall it will hopefully make people consider the parallels between their situation and the current situation of many Palestinians.  The nativity is often depicted as warm and clean, with Christmas candlelight and a cosy newborn baby - this shrine aims to juxtapose this with the poverty and difficulty of life under occupation.

Feel free to write about your thoughts and experiences with this shrine, or how you've seen people using it, as a comment (see below) or tweet @sanctus1mcr.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

December 21st, 2011 - Wednesday

Location: Band on the Wall
Designer: David Lowther, cafe manager & artist -

Location Notes: This great venue is another staple of the Manchester nighttime scene. It is currently not-for-profit and run by the registered charity Inner City Music, which provides education to the local community and schools as well as hosting superb music in its legendary setting. However, its history shows it existing since the 1850s and possibly earlier and being a music venue since the 1930s!

Shrine Notes: The impact that music makes to a particular space is demonstrated in this shrine. Music transforms space from a dormant entity to a living being. Music is often used to bridge the gap between the spiritual and the secular and for some is a spiritual experience in itself. As you reflect on this shrine, remember the music you have heard in this place and how it has touched your inner soul.

Designer Notes: I have used this shrine to express a meeting point between different mediums. Carols are a meeting between traditional approaches to Christmas and a diverse culture that still includes them in many aspects of modern life.

Feel free to write about your thoughts and experiences with this shrine, or how you've seen people using it, as a comment (see below) or tweet @sanctus1mcr.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

December 20th, 2011 - Tuesday

Location: Midland Hotel, near the café
Designer: Martie Newton - Honorary Secretary of the Manchester Branch of the Council of Christians and Jews -

Location Notes: One of the iconic hotels of Manchester that over the course of 100+ years has hosted many a celebrity and royalty as well. Its Grade II* listed grand red-brick facade protects an opulent interior. It was built by the Midland Railway Company in 1903 to serve the Manchester Central railway station behind and started life with a covered walkway between the two (demolished after WWII). It was famously the meeting place of Mr Rolls and Mr Royce, leading to the formation of Rolls-Royce Ltd in 1906.

Shrine Notes: The shrine represents the two festivals of Advent-Christmas and Hanukkah. Both celebrate with symbolic lights God’s gracious intervention in our lives to bring peace, joy, a fresh beginning and renewed relationships with Him and with one another. For those who are willing He brings great things from small beginnings: the oil for the Temple lamp, the baby born in obscure poverty, cups of tea shared by those who hoped to become friends. Will you let the Light in to your life or someone else’s? Who will you invite to tea?

Designer Notes: As the label explains, this was the site of a meeting over afternoon tea at the height of the Second World War. The Nazi regime was carrying out its hateful policy of eliminating all things “other”, especially, but not exclusively, the Jews. There was a need to seek reconciliation and friendship between Christians and Jews after centuries of mistrust and worse. From this small beginning the Council of Christians and Jews was formed: a national and now, international, body.

Feel free to write about your thoughts and experiences with this shrine, or how you've seen people using it, as a comment (see below) or tweet @sanctus1mcr.

Monday 19 December 2011

December 19th, 2011 - Monday

Location: Sheep statue in the Roman Gardens, Castlefield
Designer: Claire McDermott, member of Sanctus 1 leadership -

Location Notes: Castlefield is the site of the Roman fort Mamucium (aka Mancunium). It was built in AD79 by Gnaeus Julius Agricola during his campaigns against the Brigantes. Canals arrived at Castlefield in 1761 and helped usher in the Industrial Revolution. In 1982 the area was designated an Urban Heritage Park and is now host to a number of bars, restaurants and outdoor events. Placing an advent shrine next to a statue of sheep seems particularly appropriate, linking the shepherds of the Christmas story to the regions heritage in the cotton industry and farming.

Shrine Notes: Through the gate are images of nature; flowers, trees and a lake. This natural imagery, which contrasts with the usual urban image of Manchester, highlights the green space of the Roman gardens, and is a comment on the hidden gardens throughout the city, a place to find peace in a chaotic city. In the lake, there is a candle in the shape of a fish. The fish represents all animal life, because they are a part of the nature that we revere and should care for. The choice of the fish is also symbolic, as it was used by early Christians who had to keep their identity hidden, and would place the symbol of the fish outside meeting places, so that Christians knew where was safe.

Designer Notes: I took inspiration from the Shinto shrines in Japan, using the red Torii gate at the front, which is seen as a portal between the secular world and the divine.The gate is too small for us to pass through, creating a frustration, something many people feel when they try to access and understand spirituality.

Feel free to write about your thoughts and experiences with this shrine, or how you've seen people using it, as a comment (see below) or tweet @sanctus1mcr.

Sunday 18 December 2011

December 18th, 2011 - Sunday

Location: Fred Aldous
Designer: Michael Crispin, artist

Location Notes: Fred Aldous is one of the key shops in the Northern Quarter, supplying many strange and wonderful artist and craft materials, turning it into one of the creative engine rooms of the quarter. Their lovely staff are more than willing to help you find something or suggest what products will best help move your project forward. It’s also a bit of a Tardis, so don’t be surprised if you go in for 5 minutes and come out ages later, arms full of exciting goodies.

Shrine Notes: Take time to look around the shop at all the wonderful things people make to help you in turn make wonderful things. Everyone has some form of creativity in them. Whether it’s good quality or not is all subjective - what matters is you enjoy the creating. Be inspired to make something.

Designer Notes: As a full-time artist using a very wide range of materials and techniques I was excited to have the opportunity to create a shrine box that represented something I believe to be very important and fundamental to us all regardless of our personal circumstances. The figures inside the box facing towards the warm light represent any one of us seeking God and our inner selves for strength throughout our lives. With the outside of the  box I wanted to use the words "THE PRESENT" to emphasise the fact that the shrine is a gift and/ or opportunity to take some time out of the busy rat race that is so familiar to us all. I feel we rarely get the time and peace just to be still and listen to our heart, soul and therefore God within us.

Feel free to write about your thoughts and experiences with this shrine, or how you've seen people using it, as a comment (see below) or tweet @sanctus1mcr.

Saturday 17 December 2011

December 17th, 2011 - Saturday

Location: At the top of the disused staircase in Angel Meadows
Designer: Alan S, Nexus Art Cafe artist-in-residence -

Location Notes: Not very well known, this park is tucked away on the edge of the inner city. It has a mixed history, that notably included hosting one of the ugliest churches in Manchester (St Michael’s) and the largest cemetery in Manchester (at the time), used for those with no family or too poor to afford a ‘proper’ funeral. In the last decade, it has received much love, attention, donations and grants to improve its condition.

Shrine Notes: This is a shrine to all the men, women and children of Manchester. In this fast moving world of ours, do we have the time to take a few moments to think about what we are doing here and why the world is such a crazy place? Should we just give thanks to something for our family and friends or just stand in awe in what we see in the world and beyond?

Designer Notes: Hello, my name is Alan S. I decided to put out the shrine in Angel Meadow because of the meadows’ history. I believe up to forty thousand souls have been laid to rest in the meadow, mainly paupers who could not afford a decent funeral. Many of the people interred in the meadow are Irish, who came to Manchester to work in the cotton mills during the potato famine in Ireland. The reason it is called Angel Meadow is because some people say they have seen angels looking after the persons buried there.

Feel free to write about your thoughts and experiences with this shrine, or how you've seen people using it, as a comment (see below) or tweet @sanctus1mcr.

NHS Inter-Action Magazine

Earlier in the month Val (designer of the December 2 shrine) was interviewed for her internal work magazine, the NHS Inter-Action, in an article called "The Secret Life of Valerie Johnston". Val has been interviewed in the past, but had forgotten what it was like and enjoyed the experience. Although felt that reading back her own words was a bit like an out of body experience! It's become a discussion point at Val's workplace, with people emailing her on the back of the article and there have been a number of visits to this blog as a result, prompting further discussions. So well done Val for stepping up and talking about yourself and the project, encouraging your colleagues to find out more.

Keep us posted with any news or reviews, blogs or tweets you have seen or been a part of.