Location: Sheep statue in the Roman Gardens, Castlefield
Designer: Claire McDermott, member of Sanctus 1 leadership - www.sanctus1.co.uk
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.