After a long hiatus, I am resuming my posts to this blog. I have been so busy with my other project, Tolomato Cemetery, that I have virtually abandoned the world of the belén. But I plan to revive my blog and my website. I’m going to put up my usual belén at the Mission Shrine of La Leche, and I am also going to go to Madrid just before Christmas to see what is happening in Spain. And I kicked it all off this year with a visit to Mepkin Abbey’s famous Nativity Scene display.
This is the 9th year Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist abbey in South Carolina not far from Charleston, has had this display and the fifth year I have attended. This year was particularly good and had a number of novelties.
For one thing, there were several outdoor scenes. The charming scene above was made by a local artist out of “found” materials, in this case, parts of an old water tank, mattress springs, light bulbs, etc. Unfortunately, I seem to have left the brochure behind in Charleston, so I don’t know the name of the artist, but I’ll try to let you know in a future posting.
Below is a reproduction of a 13th century French carving.
There were some 90 Nativities, many of them lovely traditional ones. Below is a ceramic scene from Slovakia.
But one of the differences this year was that local artists had been contacted to contribute their visions of the Nativity. Most of them were sculptural in format, but then there were completely different takes on it, such as this felted tapestry, showing the Flight Into Egypt. Again, the name of the artist is in the brochure, which is in my daughter’s car in South Carolina…so I’ll let you know later!
Overall, it was probably their best exhibit so far. The dates have been changed; it’s both starting and ending a little earlier, since the monks essentially go on retreat when Advent starts and the monastery is no longer open to the public.