Disabled Virgin Mary in Peterborough Cathedral art exhibition — Scope | Disability forum
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Disabled Virgin Mary in Peterborough Cathedral art exhibition

Richard_Scope Posts: 3,614 Scope online community team

Picture depicting a disabled Virgin Mary and child
Image caption,
The pictures of the Virgin Mary as a disabled woman are believed to be first of their kind
By Emma Baugh & Pete Cooper

A depiction of a Virgin Mary in a wheelchair is among artwork featuring Christian figures with disabilities.

"Disability and the Divine" has opened at Peterborough Cathedral in what is believed to be first public exhibition of its kind.

Artist Marc Bratcher is disabled and used artificial intelligence and other technology to create the pictures.

"I was born with cerebral palsy, I've had it all my life, so it's just part of my life," he said.

Marc Bratcher
Image caption,
Marc Bratcher said disability has been largely absent from art

The cathedral said it wanted to host the exhibition to make people with disabilities less invisible in "both in religious and non-religious settings".

As well as the exhibition, which runs until 7 July, the cathedral has been gifted one of the artworks to display permanently.

Picture of two disabled people
Image caption,
The artwork has been created using artificial intelligence

Mr Bratcher said: "As far as I'm aware, there has never been a representation or an interpretation of the Virgin Mary as a disabled woman.

"So I'm interested in starting a conversation culturally, theologically, historically, and also what it means for today as well."

Sandie Burns
Image caption,
Disability advocate Sandie Burns said the work was "breath-taking"

Sandie Burns, from Disability Peterborough, said the artwork "shows a different perspective".

She said: "You could say that disabled people have been airbrushed out, but they were never put in, in the first place, to be airbrushed out.

"The fact that Mark has put disability at the centre of these pictures is such a good talking point."

Dr Rowan Williams
Image caption,
Canon Dr Rowan Williams said the religious figures were depicted in a way they had not before

Dr Rowan Williams, Canon at Peterborough Cathedral, said she was pleased "to be able to offer a space that helps people with disabilities to see themselves represented in ways that perhaps they haven't before".

"As a person with a mild disability myself, it's something that I feel very strongly about and would want to see us actively doing more to encourage," she said.

Picture depicting a disabled child and mother
Image caption,
The cathedral said it hopes the artwork starts conversations about disability in society
Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

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