Nine Elms giant advent calendar ‘will spread joy during Christmas’

A giant advent calendar is set to open in Nine Elms this December.

The month-long event will consist of 24 illuminated windows and installations on a trail around Nine Elms, Battersea, based on the theme of ‘light in the darkness’.

Battersea MP Marsha de Cordova attended the trail last year, where she admired the work of Battersea Harris Academy school children, who designed a window.

Battersea MP Marsha de Cordova on the Nine Elms giant advent calendar trail
DECK THE HALLS: Battersea MP Marsha de Cordova visited the trail last year Credit: Nine Elms Arts Ministry

She said: “The work of Nine Elms Art Ministry and their giant advent calendar is special every year.

“But this year whilst it can’t be run in the usual way it’s still so fantastic that this project is able to bring the community together to be part of something and enjoy the festivities.

“The pandemic has really highlighted the importance of community and this is just another example of the fantastic community spirit we have here in Battersea. 

“I know this advent calendar will spread some joy during what will for many be a different, and perhaps difficult Christmastime.”

Each day from 1 December the Nine Elms Arts Ministry will post about a new window and its artist, and all 24 of the artworks will be available to see on a trail around Nine Elms from 5 December to 2 January. 

Event organisers have encouraged Nine Elms residents to get involved by walking the trails, of which there are four, and decorating their own windows with the same theme of ‘light in the darkness’.

The trail will accompany online readings, poems, and carols as well as competitions and craft workshops.

Church of England Pioneer Minister in the Arts Reverend Betsy Blatchley founded the event to bring together the community with the arts.

Blatchley worked in theatre for 20 years before being ordained where she produced a series of National Theatre mobile tours to bring theatre to new audiences.

She believes her previous experience echoes in her in her current role, which is to build a sense of community through the arts.

Blatchley said: “Our theme, light in the darkness, very much relates to that struggle that everybody is having at the moment. 

“So we hope it will be something that will really lift hearts.

“It will be lovely for people to feel they’re part of a community project and maybe get to know people. 

“We’re hoping neighbours might talk to each other about how they’re decorating their windows. 

“Because of restrictions we can’t encourage people to walk around in big groups but we hope it will give a subject for conversation.

“We’re turning the whole of Nine Elms into this wonderful giant advent calendar that’s full of beautiful art.”

Nine Elms giant advent calendar illuminated window
JOY TO THE WORLD: Betsy Blatchley has gathered 24 artists to create each installation and illuminated window. Credit: Nine Elms Arts Ministry

Although it is a Christian event, Blatchley hopes everyone regardless of their faith can enjoy the trail in the run up to Christmas.

She said: “One of the reasons we chose the theme of light is because it’s such a universal theme throughout the faiths. 

“You have Hanukkah, you have Diwali that are all light-themed festivals. 

“Light is just something everyone connects with.”

Featured image credit: Nine Elms Arts Ministry

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