Tucked behind St John’s Tron Church, a dozen meters away from Scotland’s wealthiest retail thoroughfares, Buchanan Street, one can find Glasgow Homeless Jesus, a cast of the original 2012 bronze artwork by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz.
Installed in over 50 places around the globe, the sculpture depicts a life-size figure of a homeless person wrapped in a blanket sleeping rough on a bench. His face is obscured but the crucifixion stigmata on his feet identify him as Jesus.
Schmaltz named his statue, inspired by seeing a homeless guy sleeping rough in Toronto, Matthew 25, provocatively alluding to the gospel quote “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
A cast of the sculpture was unveiled in Glasgow in December 2017 as church and local charities hoped to draw public attention to the growing problem of homelessness in the area, especially to the above average death rate of among the homeless in the city and in Scotland on the whole.
Storm Ciara, with its heavy winds, sharp drop in temperatures, bursts of sleety snowstorms and rain, was particularly dangerous for rough sleepers and caused many fatalities. Those who failed to secure accommodation ahead of the adverse weather were freezing cold on the streets in their sodden sleeping bags.
I went out to take some street photos shortly after one of the Storm Ciara blizzards and wandered to Nelson Mandela Place to pay a visit to Homeless Jesus sculpture. It felt right to documented it just so, wet and covered with cold droplets of the melting snow.