Angels land in Co Down church for festival of celebration
A host of angels have descended on a Co Down church as part of a visually stunning celebration before Christmas.
Some 24 life-size angels were handcrafted over two years for a new exhibition for the Church of Ireland in Magheralin.
Angels Among Us explores stories from the Bible and showcases the skills of many of Ireland's established and emerging artists, such as Ross Wilson, Philip Steele, Keith Sheppard and others.
The intricate designs have been sculpted with a variety of materials including glass, ceramics, metal and wood.
Hoping to delight visitors, the exhibition will be on display at Magheralin Parish Church until Sunday before being shared in other venues for years to come.
The creative director, Dr Sarah Cousins, said: "We understand that not all churches have the resources to organise a festival of angels from scratch so we envisage that churches, prisons, hospitals and other appropriate venues and social spaces will be able to host this travelling exhibition, in support of fundraising for a wide range of charitable causes."
As "a unique biblical experience", the organisers hope to share the stories of angels in the Bible as well as celebrating home-grown artistic talent.
Speaking before the launch, Magheralin Rector the Rev Simon Genoe said: "Angels are God's messengers and this is an exhibition celebrating the role of angels in God's redemptive story, putting Jesus front and centre.
"There will be familiar angels and there will be some that will surprise and challenge, with the entire narrative pointing to our saviour Christ."
Malcolm Duncan, pastor of Dundonald Elim Church, visited the exhibition and described it as "outstanding".
"I cannot recommend it enough," he wrote on his website. "Don't think for a minute that this is twee, or theologically odd. Far from it.
"The artists invite us into the most profound exploration of angels and the ways in which God uses them."
He added: "I was deeply moved by 'Peter's Angel' at the installation entitled The God of Freedom, which is fashioned in metal keys, chains and locks and was created by inmates at HMP Maghaberry.
"I was also profoundly touched by the 'God of Restoration' installation featuring 'Elijah's Angel', made up of pieces of broken crockery, an astounding and beautiful reminder of how God uses the broken pieces of our lives to create something beautiful."
The exhibition runs until December 8 from 6-9pm tonight, 10am to 9.30pm on Friday and Saturday, and 2pm to 7.30pm on Sunday.
Anyone interested in making group bookings should call Eileen Cousins on 07840 484547.