Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Bethlehem Unwrapped

"When we build walls around us and do not reach out to all of God's creatures, that is a treif way of life"  Britain's Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis

A life-size, 8 metre high art installation, “Wall”, recreating the Separation Wall that surrounds Bethlehem will be unveiled at St James’s Church Piccadilly on Monday 23 December to coincide with the 12 days of Christmas. At the end of 12 days, on Sunday 5th January, in a concert featuring performances from the Tallis Scholars and Reem Kelani, Nigel Kennedy will perform original composition ‘The Bridge’ during which the Wall itself will become a symbol of peace and hope.

The Israeli Separation Barrier Constructed in Piccadilly from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.
Standing amid the Christmas trees and fairy lights in London, “Wall” will offer members of the public the chance to see beyond the festive stereotype of Bethlehem and learn about the reality of life for those living today behind the Wall.

The installation has been created by award-winning writer and director Justin Butcher, who travelled to Bethlehem in 2012 to see first-hand the conditions the local community live in. Justin has enlisted an award-winning team of architects, builders and designers, with members of the public invited to share their experiences when they visit “Wall” by contributing prayers, messages of hope and pictures drawn on the installation.

“Wall” is part of Bethlehem Unwrapped, a festival of music, poetry, film, comedy, food and panel discussions taking place from 23 December – 5 January. Featured artists are renowned musician and composer Nigel Kennedy, chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, singer Reem Kelani, comedians Mark Steel, Jeremy Hardy, Ivor Dembina, Dave Cohen and Andy Zaltzman, writer and speaker Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, film-maker and Bethlehem resident Leila Sansour, ICAHD founder Jeff Halper, performance poets Rafeef Ziadah, Dizraeli and Harry Baker. In a key festival event, the reasons for the construction of the Barrier and its effects will be discussed by a panel, including representatives from the Israeli embassy and the British Israel Communications and Research Centre.

The Festival has been curated by Justin Butcher as a response to the Kairos Palestine document issued by the united Churches of the Holy Land, and is inspired by the cultural movement in Bethlehem described as ‘Beautiful Resistance’, whereby Palestinians express their determination peacefully and creatively to resist injustice. All net proceeds of Bethlehem Unwrapped will go to support the work of the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem who run a range of visionary projects to promote peace, justice and reconciliation, including training in techniques of non-violent resistance, olive harvesting trips for volunteers, alternative tours of the Holy Land, home rebuilding projects and a wide range of educational and leadership training projects.

Justin Butcher said: “I visited Bethlehem for the first time last year with a group of artists from the UK and we came away profoundly inspired by the extraordinary peace-makers we met on both sides of the divide. Beneath the radar of most international media, an astonishing hope is springing up in many places, even in the bleak shadow of the Wall.

St James’s Church
197 Piccadilly
London W1J 9LL

See Bethlehem Unwrapped for more information