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Northern Lights transform York Minster to raise glass conservation funds

25 May, 2018

By Leanne Woodhurst

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A new and unique art experience will transform York Minster’s Nave next month when the cathedral opens its doors after hours for Northern Lights.

Artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid from double Guinness World Record winning company The Projection Studio have designed the sound and light projection, which will be shown on the 16 and 17 June, taking inspiration from the cathedral’s stained glass and architecture.

Visitors will have the chance to experience the Minster at dusk from 8pm, with its cavernous Nave completely cleared of chairs and filled with music from the cathedral’s organ, before the light and sound installation is shown at 9.30pm.

The events will launch a new three-year fundraising campaign to extend state-of-the-art external glazing to all 128 of the Minster’s mostly medieval stained glass windows, 60% of which currently have no protection from the elements.

The artwork realises a long-held ambition for London-based projection artist Ross, who is well known in York for outdoor projections including several artworks for Illuminating York and the highly successful projection Rose, shown outside York Minster’s South Transept in 2010.

Ross said: “Unlike our previous pieces, this one is particularly special as it will be inside the Minster itself. We have been looking at the Nave of the Minster ever since we first came to create a piece for York ten years ago, and we’re hugely excited to be given the opportunity to realise our ideas.

“The aim is to create something immersive, with projection stretching above the viewer along the vaulted Nave roof and in front of them on the Heart of Yorkshire in the Great West Window. It’s an ambitious and exciting prospect – a new and unique art experience for York and the Minster.”

Sound artist Karen has taken inspiration from the cathedral’s music and the artwork will include recordings by the York Minster Choir.

“The sound elements will fill the Minster’s Nave, surrounding the listener with soundscapes and effects,” Karen added. “The choir is outstanding and its repertoire is incredibly wide. The choices we made, in conjunction with Robert Sharpe, the Director of Music, will really add something special to the experience of the piece.”

The events have been organised as part of a fundraising weekend to raise money to extend state-of-the-art protective glazing to all 128 of the Minster’s mostly medieval stained glass windows over the next 20 years. Currently, over 70 of the windows have no protection from the elements, leaving them exposed to damage and decay.

To carry out the work, the cathedral has teamed up with the York Glaziers Trust and the York Minster Fund (YMF), supported by an endowment grant of up to £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Over the next three years, every £1 raised by the public and the YMF will be matched by the HLF up to £1m, meaning for every £1 donated by the public, up to £5 could be added to the conservation project pot.

All profits from the weekend events will support the fundraising campaign. Doors open at 8pm, with last admission 9pm, before the sound and light projection is shown at 9.30pm. The event will finish at approximately 10pm.

Tickets cost £5 and can be purchased through the Minster’s website at www.yorkminster.org. For more information visit the website or call 01904 557200.

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