A Church of England priest introduces her artistic re-imaginings of the first Christmas
When Rev Hana Amner began training to become a priest, she found it “incredibly inaccessible”. From a working-class background, she didn’t fit the traditional mould, but found she loved theology, and could express it in a very particular way.
“I found myself illustrating theological ideas because, although I didn’t always have the words to explain them, I could put them into pictures,” she says.
With this collection of illustrations, Amner aims to: “reimagine the true elements of the Nativity story.” Mary and Joseph are depicted as refugees who walk down a high street, begging people to help them (centre). Having experienced homelessness in her late teens, Amner knows what it’s like to be in desperate need, yet be ignored by society.
In another modern depiction of the ancient tale, she portrays a homeless man offering his tent to the young couple, followed by “a moment in history; a pause” when everyone who had previously ignored their plight – from the city workers to refuse collectors – kneel before the newborn King Jesus (right).
Amner also gives the wise men a modern twist, imagining them as “young people, just hanging out” (below). With their natural curiosity in all things spiritual, she believes it is the younger generation who may be most attuned to what God is doing and willing to respond with courage.
Street art has a special ability to communicate with those outside of normal Church circles, says Amner. Her aim, in using it to tell the Christmas story afresh, is to convey biblical stories alongside the wider picture of Jesus among us. “God is still with us. It’s forever. That’s the reason for the art that I create.”