Object 6: Christmas decorations: Nativity scene

MC174.9.2001 Nativity sceneI would have preferred an object without a religious connection. Skipping ropes and roller skates were more familiar objects from my childhood.

I researched the scene’s history – beginning as living tableaux staged by St Francis, before becoming a display piece for Italian churches and later homes.

Strange to be thinking of Christmas at Midsummer. Running through pollen thick air reminded me of tearing up cotton wool for the Christmas scene on my Nana’s sideboard. Why would a scene set in Bethlehem need fake snow?

My object wasn’t on display when I visited the museum. A cabinet containing a Noah’s Ark and a building block church showed where it might appear.

Would these have been rare treasures for Sunday play? Or dull substitutes for noisier weekday toys? The theme for my sestude began to take shape.

Imagining a conversation between an adult and a child was a challenge as I don’t have children of my own. An Edinburgh friend and mum answered my questions.

After settling on its title, the adult figure became ‘Daddy’. Sunday now reflects the idea that time, precious and limited for an adult, may feel quite different to a child who just wants to play.


By Michelle Nichol



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