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New light and sound installation commemorating 40th anniversary of fire illuminates York Minster 

9 Jul, 2024

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A new light and sound installation will illuminate York Minster this October half-term to commemorate the 1984 fire and to raise funds for continuing restoration of the cathedral.

PHOENIX is a major new projection mapping and sound installation by award-winning artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid. The installation is bespoke, having been specially created to bring the cathedral’s unique architecture and history to life. Ashton and Monid also created Northern Lights in 2019 and Platinum and Light in 2022, two spectacular installations which attracted tens of thousands of people to the cathedral.

The brand-new show, which will run for 15 nights from Saturday 19 October to Saturday 2 November, is inspired by the devastating fire that destroyed the roof of York Minster’s South Transept forty years ago.

Telling the story of that night and its aftermath, PHOENIX will commemorate the bravery of those that responded to the fire, celebrating the resilience of York Minster and the people of York through their own words, in the very place where it happened.

Visitors will see lightning strike the cathedral, lead pour down from the roof and the iconic Rose Window crack, before the clean-up operation begins and expert restoration work leaves York Minster standing as a symbol of hope in the city once more.

Neil Sanderson, Director of the York Minster Fund, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ross and Karen back to create another spectacular show for the Minster and, with such an inspiring story of both disaster and rebuilding, I know this will be something no-one will want to miss!

“I remember seeing the fire on the news forty years ago and being shocked by those images of the flames in the darkness.

“The money raised is absolutely vital to ensure we can continue the work of restoring and protecting this magnificent building. Everyone who buys a ticket becomes part of the long history of this place, helping us to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.”

After each performance, visitors will have the chance to buy a special Restoration Rose pin badge based on a design created by Laura Edwards (née Smith) for a Blue Peter competition when she was 10 years old.

Of the 68 bosses on the South Transept ceiling at the time of the 1984 fire, all but six were damaged or destroyed. In 1986, York Minster launched a competition with the BBC’s Blue Peter to find new designs based on significant events from the 20th century. There were over 32,000 entries which were whittled down to the six winning designs that can be seen on the new ceiling of the South Transept today.

Laura’s winning design depicted the red and white roses of Lancashire and Yorkshire surrounded by flames, inspired by York Minster’s iconic Rose Window, which narrowly survived the fire.

All proceeds from the sale of PHOENIX tickets and Restoration Rose pin badges will help to raise funds for the ongoing cycle of restoration and conservation to the cathedral’s fabric. York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, but with the current building dating from the 13th century, it is a fragile masterpiece which needs constant care.

The light and sound projection will open on Saturday 19 October and run each evening until Saturday 2 November. Monday to Saturday, the projection will start at 7pm, with booking slots available every 20 minutes until 9pm. Doors will close at 9.30pm. On Sundays, the projection will start at 6pm, with booking slots available every 20 minutes until 8pm. Doors will close at 8.30pm.

Tickets are available now via the cathedral’s website HERE and cost £7.50 each, or £25 for a family ticket for up to two adults and two children.

The Restoration Rose pin badges are on sale now in the York Minster Shops, priced at £5. Visitors can also pre-order a pin badge when they book a PHOENIX ticket, and collect their order on the night. They can also buy a badge in-person after each performance.

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