Building on the success of Bishop Auckland Advent Windows in 2017 and 2018, Bishop Auckland Town Team are planning an ambitious and creative advent windows display for 2019 which will involve the construction of 24 life size models – one for each day of window openings between 1st and 24th December.
The aim of this year’s display is to celebrate the unique heritage of Bishop Auckland, as well as the traditional nativity story.
As such, as well as creating models of Joseph, Mary, Gabriel, the infant Jesus, various animals, a crib and a star, we will also be creating 13 figures of biblical characters Jacob and His Twelve Sons, based on the paintings by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbaran, which have been housed in the town’s Auckland Castle for more than 250 years.
The paintings, which were placed in trust for the community alongside the Castle in 2012, have been on tour in America and Israel in recent years so this is a fantastic opportunity for us all to mark their return home to Bishop Auckland and the re-opening of the 900 year-old Castle following a multi-million pound conservation led by The Auckland Project.
Each of the high-quality figures will be created by students from a different local school, with the schools then having the opportunity to take them back into the classroom after the public display, as a permanent prompt for further study and discussion.
Support for this project has already been secured from Northern Heartlands through County Durham Community Foundation with a grant of £5,000, with an additional £5,000 now being sought to help cover the costs for an artist to work with the students, to provide durable materials to ensure the models can be used long term, and to fund the public Christmas Eve parade, to bring all our local schools, business, community groups and residents together.
The parade itself will be the advent window’s grand finale, with all 24 models being taken from their shop window displays and paraded through the streets of Bishop Auckland to Auckland Castle. There, thanks to the permission of the Bishop of Durham, they will be assembled into a life-size nativity scene in St Peter’s Chapel for the local community to view throughout the holiday period.
Complimentary Community Passes for The Auckland Project will be offered to all advent window participants. The 15 schools who created the models will also be able to see their work in situ and use it to stimulate a further exploration of Bishop Auckland’s history, in which both the Castle and Zurbarán paintings play an important part.
Read more about the success of the 2018, Bishop Auckland Advent Windows.