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New art installation for Advent and Christmastide at St Paul's Cathedral

The star in its stable of light

A work by Ian Hamilton Finlay has been installed for a short period during Advent and Christmastide. 

 L'étoile dans son étable de lumière - The star in its stable of light- is on display opposite the crib at the West End of the Cathedral.

The work and the words in neon were composed by Scottish poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay for Christmas 1976.

It was originally conceived as a Christmas card but  turned into an art object -, the words becoming physical, composed as if in the artist’s own hand.

Finlay developed a variety of creative forms to celebrate the sustaining power of words in this way. The text plays with images which have become associated with The Nativity: the stable, the humble place where animals were kept, in which the Holy Family found shelter and Jesus was born; and the star, which guided the Magi, or Wise men, to the manger in which the infant Jesus was placed.

These traditional elements of the nativity story are reworked, through clever arrangement, to summon a new image, the meaning of which is both festive and elusive, and evokes the brilliant arrival of a new light in the world.

It will be turned on Monday 12 December and remain in place until Candlemas -2 February 2017.

The work is owned by the estate of Finlay and sponsored by the Victoria Miro Gallery
Chancellor of the Cathedral Canon Mark Oakley, said: ‘Like the star’s bright light that shone over the Bethlehem stable, so we look up from the crib in the cathedral to see this message of hope.

'It is good to have a work by Ian Hamilton Finlay in St Paul’s for this short but important period of time. It is both poignant and playful, a contemporary medium voicing an ancient, fresh and resonant faith’.