The latest interactive art installation from David Shearing, Christmas With Us will whisk you away from the bright lights and the crowds to show you a very different side of Christmas.
David Shearing’s Christmas with Us is back for 2017. It’s an immersive art installation that will give you a very different perspective on the festive season, showing the good and the bad, side by side through the voices of the community. This is a unique alternative to the shopping and the revelry, so be sure to stop by.
Shearing wanted to get to the heart of Christmas. Not the consumer-led version of it that we see today, but the community-focused one that came before, “I think Christmas is so abundant, it’s so covered with glaring lights and selling this and that product. But what this is attempting to do is challenge that a little bit, to try to really remember the warmth of Christmas and what it is to be a part of a community, to learn about other people.”
So what has he done? Well, like last time, he’s created a space where people can come together over a hot drink. You’ll find it in Leeds Train Station, just opposite Subway, which sounds like a strange venue choice, especially when you consider the intimate unit they used for the Weather Cafe, but there’s a very good reason why.
You see, Christmas With Us will take place in a huge custom-made box. On the outside, it actually looks quite unassuming, but inside they’ve created a cosy living room, the kind of place where you’d celebrate Christmas with your friends and family. It’s not extravagant or luxurious, it’s simple and humble, reflecting the reality of life in much of the city.
“We want to make it homely, we want to make it warm and inviting, and there’s a certain honesty that we’re trying to get to. It’s not about flashy interiors or ornate sparkling Christmas, you know, it’ll be quite humble,” Shearing explained. They’ve used local suppliers to create it, so everything from the floors to the tables are Yorkshire through and through.
Inside this cosy living room, they’ll host an intimate get-together for the people of Leeds. It’s absolutely free and you’ll get a cuppa and a mince pie, as well as a unique 40-minute experience that brings together immersive sound design, projection and conversation. There’s space for 6-8 people at each session, but even if you can’t squeeze in, you can still get involved, because the box has a window cut into the side that will give passersby a chance to look in.
“It’s like going into the heart of Christmas. So you go into the warmth of togetherness, meeting other people in the community to have this shared experience – but done in a way that’s really subtle and magical. And even if you’re passing, you’ll be able to look in through the window and, using the headphones, listen to certain stories going on inside,” Shearing explained. That last part was very important to him – we see it all the time in movies, as people look in on the festivities, but rather than being left out in the cold, here you’re involved.
Stories will sit at the heart of the experience they’ve created inside, with the voices of locals once again integrated into the art, but Shearing will also have a few surprises lined up. He’s working with Heydays, an elderly group at West Yorkshire Playhouse, to host the event, and they’re going to make it a little bit different to the norm.
Christmas With Us will form part of the #christmasinleeds, a series of festive sculptures, light installations and attractions scattered across the city. It’s an ambitious new project from Leeds BID, designed to make Christmas that little bit more magical, whether you’re heading to work or doing your shopping.
Christmas With Us will be at Leeds Train Station from Friday 1st to Sunday 17th December 2017.