Unlike most traditional images of Jesus’ birth, Iain was keen for this painting to reflect what birth really looks like. Traditional images of this moment can feel naïve and can seem to deny the incarnation; God in a real human body. Jesus being born as a completely vulnerable person is one of the ways God chooses to identify with us.
The painting was based on a photograph by Chris Hoskins, taken at the birth of his second son, Eli. Chris is known for his Scottish landscape photography and his humanitarian work with charities like Tearfund. When Iain first saw the photograph, he was struck by the power of the image and was strongly reminded of the birth of his own children. The image depicts an occurrence which is simultaneously every-day and unique.
The birth of Jesus
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them..
Luke 2: 1-7 (NIVUK)