Gloucester Cathedral has commissioned a new Nativity from the Oxford artist, James Cochrane.
The eighteen colourful and quirky figures are made from papier mache. They were specially made for St Andrew’s Chapel, situated off the South Transept of the cathedral. This chapel has very elaborate 19th century decoration.
As well as Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, there are two angels, two shepherds, two sheep, a sheepdog, an ox and a donkey. Come January, the three kings making the journey from the east will be accompanied by a Gloucester Old Spot pig.
James Cochrane has made various pieces for TV, including for the BBC’s Eastenders and shop window displays for Topman and Habitat.
The figures took around six months to make. Although James has had many commissions for angels and animals, this is his first whole Nativity. “I felt excited when I got the commission, but it was very daunting” he commented, “One of the most important things for me was that they looked at home and were part of St Andrew’s Chapel.”
Most of the figures have been sponsored by generous donors. To sponsor any of the remaining figures, call Margaret Brown at the Cathedral Office on 01452 528095.
James Cochrane has made eighteen figures in all. Mary, traditionally in gold and blue, appears by the side of the manger at Christmas time and the baby Jesus will appear on Christmas Eve. Joseph has a staff which is growing new leaves – tradition says that when Mary’s parents looked for a suitor they left their staffs and Joseph’s was the only one to start budding so he was chosen. An ox and a donkey survey the scene. There is an old and a young shepherd holding a lamb, two sheep, a sheepdog and two angels. At Epiphany, the three kings will appear and the king bearing gold brings it in the form of a gold ring, reminding us that King Henry III was crowned in the Cathedral with a gold ring in 1216. Mary will show off to them the growing child. One of the kings will be accompanied by a Gloucester Old Spot pig!
The “Gloucester Nativity” made in 1999 by the well-known artist Graham Clarke was loaned by the artist to the cathedral for ten years. The Nativity will go back to the artist’s home church at Boughton Monchelsea in Kent this Christmas.
James C Cochrane works from a studio in his home in Headington, Oxford. He works as a theatre prop maker, sculptor, largely in papier mache, and illustrator of children’s books. He receives many commissions to portray household pets and unusual animals. James sells his works in galleries and shops and on the internet. He has made various pieces for TV including BBC Eastenders, for store catalogues and window displays, and for weddings and parties. His book “Paper Sculpture” was published by David and Charles in 2008.