I always loved advent calendars when I was a kid. I never failed to get excited when I opened that little door and got to scoff the chocolate inside. I still buy advent calendars now, but instead of chocolate, there’s a beer behind each door. A beer a day advent calendar, that’s pretty great isn’t it? When I first discovered the beer-vent calendar was a real thing, I felt elated. I imagine I felt pretty much the same way that Sir Issac Newton felt when he discovered gravity. Eureka! I have found the ultimate advent calendar, nothing but nothing can beat it. I now know that the beer-vent calendar is not, in fact, the peak of human achievement. There is a much bigger, much brighter, much more incredible advent calendar in the world, and it’s right in the heart of Walthamstow.

ADVENT(US), is what can only be described as an epic art installation at St Mary’s Church in the Village. For twenty-four days in December, a different work of art or image will be projected on to the ancient stone walls of the Church. Just think about that, twenty-four days, twenty-four different artists, and a twelfth century Church turned in to a canvas for four hours each evening. I can only imagine the amount of work that must have gone in to making this happen. Hats off to the St Mary’s Art Collective, the organisers of this project, this really is an amazing achievement.

The project started on the 1st of December. At 6pm, the Church Bells rang out, and the building was blanketed in colour. The first featured artist was Emma Scutt. Her painting of a refugee child with haunting eyes, sprang from the darkness and gazed at us from behind trees and grave stones. The faces from Emma’s paintings came to life as they drifted along the old walls. Eyes and mouths changing shape as the projections moved over stained glass windows, doors and porches. The refugee child, at first as bright as day, then fading in to the dark of the Church yard. It was simply magical.

Throughout the course of the twenty-four day project, there are various other events taking place at St Mary’s, including concerts, workshops, carols, and even a screening of Home Alone on the 10th of December. The real stand out for me though, the jewel in the crown of the project, is the projection work. Surrounded by naked trees and darkness, the Church looks spectacular as it is bathed in colour and light. Am I gushing? I feel like I’m gushing, but I don’t think I care. ADVENT(US) is something special, and something not to miss. If you do nothing else this month, do this. For more info, check out the St Mary’s Art Collective web site.

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