Festival des Créche

Artists of the Créche: Jason Kemball

The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes Crèche.

It’s that time of the year again to celebrate a new season and its festivities. Les Amis de la crèche are always on the lookout for new nativity sets to feature each year at Festival time. We are constantly reaching out to find the unique and rare but we are most interested in finding artists from this region to promote. The medium that the artist uses to create these works of art can vary drastically depending on what they can source out for their project. In some instances, the medium itself tells a story.

In June of 2015 when Dan’s Excavating was removing what was left of the museum after the devastating fire of 2014, a request was made to try and salvage any of the tools and scrap metal from the ashes. Pat Carlson and Dan Courcelles very willingly sifted through the seemingly unending piles of rubble as the demolition took place. Soon, two plastic barrels were almost filled with blackened tools and assorted scrap metal. These were gratefully placed in storage at the Maskwa Club Building until this summer waiting for some magic to take place.

The WRHM had been asking around for blacksmith, or a welder/machinist to take on the task of creating a nativity with the salvaged material as it would be so meaningful to open our 10th Festival with a creation rising form the ashes. Jason Kemball of St-Georges graciously accepted the challenge.

In the barrels he found what was left of a bear trap that had been donated to the museum from MB Conservation in the early 1970’s. Jason created one of the most unique nativities yet featured. From this old, burned up bear trap, he crafted a striking and symbolically significant piece for the Festival and the Museum. Fittingly, it earned the name, “Phoenix Rising from the Ashes”.

The Bear Trap Jason turned into a masterpiece.

The scene pictured at the top of this page, depicts Joseph lovingly cradling Mary in his arms however, Baby Jesus can also be placed in his cradle or in Mary’s arms. The nativity ensemble also features a shepherd holding a sheep and our angel. This piece is a must-see this year. It is fascinating how emerging sculptor Jason Kemball envisioned turning this grotesque trap into a masterpiece. That he was able to transform an object destined for the landfill or a foundry and create this loving family nativity is nothing short of a miracle. In Jason’s work of art we recognize grace, movement and tenderness – virtues much needed in today’s world.

This year’s Festival is moving to its new home in the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum. The main exhibit area of the Museum has now become le Musée des crèches for the 2019-2020 festive season. Next year it will most likely be featured in the Ferry Gallery Building. We want to thank Allard Library for hosting us over the last 9 years. Our collection quickly outgrew their storage room that they graciously shared with us until our new space was ready.

Come see Jason’s beautiful crèche and hundreds more at the 10th Annual Festival des Crèches. We have many new nativities to showcase in the weeks to come in addition to some of our favourites acquired over the years.