Idea cribbed from Poland

Tideswell Artability Group, Derek Lingard and Jean Oldfield
Tideswell Artability Group, Derek Lingard and Jean Oldfield
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A CHRISTMAS tradition originating from Poland has inspired an exhibition with a difference at Tideswell’s iconic Cathedral of the Peak.

Household scrap materials have been recycled by members of the local Tideswell Artability Group to create a series of dazzling Christmas cribs which will be on display in the parish church throughout December.

The cribs, many based on local architecture such as Buxton Opera House, Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire and other buildings in the area, have been inspired by the art of Szopka making, a Polish tradition dating back to the 19th century.

Szopkas are colourful nativity scenes which are made as part of traditional preparations for Christmas.

The Polish models have to conform to a strict plan. On the ground floor are depictions of local life – characters from folk tales, local heroes or historical champions – while above them are scenes of Bethlehem together with the Holy family and visitors to the stable.

Former art teacher John Firth tutors the Artability group, which meets fortnightly at Nicholson Court in Tideswell and is open to local people with an ‘identifiable need’, such as those who are elderly, house-bound or disabled, with a love of arts and crafts.

He explained that the Tideswell cribs were not as restricted to the strict regulations of their Polish counterparts, but still used similar everyday scrap materials, such as cardboard and sparkling silver foil, beads and sequins.

“We hope that people will come along and see these delightful examples of folk art,” he added.

“When people talk about Christmas cribs they immediately think of a stable and the Holy family, but these are something completely different. They sort of have an imaginative quality with them.”

The 12 festive cribs will be on display at the Cathedral of the Peak from Thursday, December 1. Admission is free.