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Nicho Nativity At Oklahoma, Northern Quarter

Create your own modern day nativity based on Mexican dioramas

Written by . Published on November 19th 2013.

Nicho Nativity At Oklahoma, Northern Quarter

AS traditional as they are, nativity scenes can be a bit samey. Which begs the question - how innovative can the depiction of the birth of Jesus be?

Nicho Nativity is a magical Mexicana diorama, amplified in scale to become a sparkling, walk-in grotto hosted in the newly relaunched basement and gallery space at the shop on High Street.

Posh 'n' Becks, Mary 'n' JosephPosh 'n' Becks, Mary 'n' JosephIn 2004, Madamme Tussaud’s in London brought celebrity idolatry to a new low by replacing your regular nativity scene cast (Jesus, Mary, Joseph et al) with God-like celebrities including Victoria and David Beckham as Mary and Joseph and Kylie Minogue as the angel.

The Vatican were even more upset by the ‘poor taste’ display than they were of the nativity scene below which was made in Bolivia. Out of human hair.

It may not be as controversial or gross, but Oklahoma in the Northern Quarter is to host ‘nativity’ scenes aimed at bringing everyone together, regardless of religion.

Nicho Nativity is a magical Mexicana diorama, amplified in scale to become a sparkling, walk-in grotto hosted in the newly relaunched basement and gallery space at the shop on High Street.

A nicho is a form of Latin American folk art in the shape of an open wooden box containing miniature tableaux, or sometimes hinged panels that stand open. Nichos are combined from mixed media such as dried flowers, sugar skulls, paste jewels, photographs, found objects and clay figures, and traditionally combine elements from Roman Catholicism, mestizo spirituality, local customs and popular culture.

Conceived by local producer and artist-maker Bren O’Callaghan (the man behind almost-instant photo booth, Sketch-O-Matic, hosted by Cornerhouse two-years running that led to queues snaking through the building), working with photographer Elle Brotherhood, fashion design student Natalie Dawson and artist Bryony Jackson, a shrine the size of a quadruple wardrobe will take shape and offer an alternative tableaux for the festive season.

Bren O'CallaghanBren O'Callaghan

Just as the store and cafe above are renowned as a kaleidoscopic experience for customers, dripping with fringed parasols, wind-up tin toys and fortune telling fish, so the stairs (look for the giant, pointing finger) will lead the way to a dose of fabulously over-the-top Latino obscuria.

Bren said: “Although we have a loose nativity theme, the overall intention is one of magic-making and creating a sense of DIY wonder, not disrespect. We want visitors to step into the scene and re-write their primary school past.

“Only a chosen few ever got top billing in the annual nativity productions, the rest of us were relegated to dressing gown draped villagers, wordless livestock or sniffling stars. This is your chance to reclaim the spotlight.”

The team encourage you to take your own digital pictures, tag, upload and share to Nicho Nativity on Facebook and Twitter (#nichonativity), or take advantage of the opportunity to take away an instant portrait for that vintage, Christmas-gone-by vibe at £3 per photograph.

This is your chance to reclaim the spotlightThis is your chance to reclaim the spotlight

Nicho Nativity launches on Friday 6 December (6pm-9pm) and will be open until Tuesday 24 December at Oklahoma.

There will be traditional Mexican snacks, live performance from Tilly Skreams and Cheddar Gorgeous as the dual-spirit of Carmen Miranda, singing nun Sister Sledge, plus a Frida Kahlo transformation station.

Mexican dress and nativity bedsheets encouraged.

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