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Northern Lights weekend raises £1.4 million to help protect York Minster’s stained glass

19 Jun, 2018

By Leanne Woodhurst

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A weekend of spectacular events organised by the York Minster Fund has raised £1.4 million to help protect York Minster’s world famous collection of stained glass

The Northern Lights weekend opened on Friday (15 June) with a gala fundraising dinner enjoyed by 700 guests in the Minster’s Nave, before the cathedral opened its doors after hours on Saturday and Sunday for two sell-out screenings of a new sound and light projection by artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid.

The events were organised to support an innovative campaign to build sufficient funds to extend state-of-the-art external glazing to all of the Minster’s historically important windows, 60% of which currently have no protection from the elements.

The work will take 20 years to complete in partnership with the York Glaziers Trust and cost £11m in total.

Neil Sanderson, Director of the York Minster Fund, said: “We’re hugely grateful to our sponsors and everyone who came to support the spectacular Northern Lights weekend and are delighted, with the support of the Heritage Lottery, to have raised such a fantastic amount to kick start our fundraising campaign.

“York Minster’s windows hold one of the most important collections of medieval stained glass in the country, with the earliest pieces dating back to the late 12th century. Our work with York Glaziers Trust over the next 20 years will ensure these irreplaceable masterpieces are protected for generations to come.

“Our three-year fundraising campaign is to establish an endowment fund for the 20 year programme and involves a match-funding grant of up to £1m from the Heritage Lottery. This means that for every £1 raised over the weekend, at least £4 will be added to the conservation project pot, and we are hugely grateful to the lottery for this support.”

The money raised will then be invested and the returns from the fund used to help pay for the ongoing conservation work over the next two decades.

The entertainment at Friday’s gala dinner – the first on this scale since 2012 – included illuminated stilt walkers and a performance by Heliosphere by The Dream Engine. An acrobat suspended beneath a giant helium balloon interacted with guests as she floated through the cathedral’s Nave.

The dinner was followed by the world premiere performance of Northern Lights a sound and light projection by artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid, which took its inspiration from the cathedral’s stained glass and architecture. It told the story of time, from first creation to final revelation, mirroring ideas and images from the recently restored Great East Window.

The weekend continued when the Northern Lights installation was also shown at two sell-out evening opening events on Saturday and Sunday, which attracted 3,000people.

The artwork realised a ten year ambition for the London-based artists to create a piece inside York Minster, following their highly successful projection Rose, shown outside York Minster’s South Transept in 2010.

The success of the weekend’s events were made possible thanks to the support of a number of generous supporters. Headline sponsor for the event was Langleys Solicitors, principal sponsor Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School and major sponsor UBS.

A range of items were also donated for the gala dinner including a specially designed sapphire and diamond Yorkshire Rose necklace by Ogden Harrogate, champagne by Joseph Perrier, courtesy of Field and Fawcett, and fillet steak by Dovecote Park.

The stained-glass window that was expertly created by the York Glaziers Trust for the 2016 Welcome to Yorkshire Chelsea Flower Show Garden was also gifted as an auction prize by the tourism body. Other generous sponsors for the events included Cazenove Capital and Press Green Ltd.

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