Minster on the Move
In October 2012, York Minster launched an art and history project for Key Stage 2 pupils in local schools. Each school took part in an introduction session, an exclusive visit to York Minster, and a day of creating, interpreting, understanding and learning new techniques to produce art work to go into an exhibition. We recruited freelance visual artist and educator Griselda Goldsbrough for the project, who introduced the artistic techniques of printing, collage, drawing, painting and construction.
The theme for this project was North, South, East, West. This was in relation to where the schools sit within York and the major stained glass windows in those directions within the Minster. North, South, East, West looked at how buildings speak to us and what impressions they leave with us. Each school then developed a range of artwork specific to their window.
The aims of the project were to make contact and build relationships with four schools who had not visited the Minster before, to engage with pupils and their families, and for pupils to develop a sense of pride, knowledge and understanding of the Minster - exploring what it means as a special place for them.
The schools involved were; Tang Hall Primary, Derwent Primary, Clifton Green Primary and Haxby Road Primary.
Tang Hall Primary School
Tang Hall Primary School focused on the South Transept of the Minster, exploring the Rose Window.
The Rose Window was made to commemorate the end of the ‘War of the Roses’. The War of the Roses were a series of wars fought between supporters of the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England.
Several wars were fought between 1455 and 1485 with the final victory being won by the Lancastrian Henry Tudor, who defeated the last Yorkist King; Richard III. Henry later went on to marry Elizabeth of York, which united the two houses.
Using the Rose Window as inspiration for their art work, Tang Hall explored themes of friendship, what it means and how we celebrate it. Pupils designed their own rose windows with the idea of friendship connecting in two circles. Pupils created a final window in the form of a cell made from a circle of willow designed to tell us something about their friendships. They used specific artistic techniques and processes such as printing, painting and collage to transform ideas into designs for their cells.
‘The children have all really enjoyed the project. Their communication skills, through both art and interaction with peers have shown a distinct improvement. All of the children display overt pride in the work they have produced - they are keen to explain (to anyone who will listen!) the project and show off what they have done.’ Fiona McCallion, Teacher from Tang Hall Primary School
Derwent Infant and Junior School
Derwent Infant and Junior School focused on the East End of the Minster, exploring the Great East Window and The Orb.
The Great East Window tells the story of creation; depicting the beginning and end of the world, as told in the Books of Genesis and Revelation in the Bible.
Over the next five years the scenes from the Book of Revelation in this extraordinary window will be conserved and returned with protective glazing, as part of the York Minster Revealed project. In the meantime The Orb is an exciting new visitor attraction in the Minster, showcasing five real conserved panels of some of the world’s most important medieval art.
Using the Great East Window as inspiration for their art work, Derwent Infant and Juniors explored the theme of creation. Pupils worked with light, earth and water to design images that told of the first seven days of creation.
Pupils were also given a special tour of the Bedern Glaziers Studio near York Minster, giving them the opportunity to get up close to panels of the Great East Window being conserved. This allowed them to see real conservation in action and to meet some of the experts entrusted with this awe-inspiring project.
‘The project has provided a first-time, first-hand experience for the children as many of them had never visited York Minster before. The visit has enriched their educational experience both in terms of helping to develop their awareness of local heritage and also, subtly, Christian beliefs/practices and religion generally.’ Tom Holder, Teacher fromDerwent Infant and Junior School
Clifton Green Primary School
Clifton Green Primary School focused on the West End of the Minster, exploring the Great West Window.
The Great West Window is also known as the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’. This window reinforces the divine hierarchy of the Church with the upper rows illustrating the principal events in Mary’s life including Annunciation; Nativity; Resurrection and Ascension. The middle row depicts the Apostles and beneath this are previous Archbishops of York, including Archbishop Melton who commissioned the window. Using the Great West Window as inspiration for their art work, pupils discussed and interpreted the hierarchy of the church in relation to themselves.
They explored personal hierarchies and mapped out these ideas in a heart design and created a final window in the form of a cell made from a circle of willow constructed with the four chambers of the heart filled with designs of the four elements; air, earth, water and fire. The elements were made from drawn images, multi-media pieces and text.
‘The children experienced visiting the Minster and developed an understanding of the importance of
this landmark. Their knowledge of history and art improved through object handling and the
use of new media.’ Danielle Neville, Teacher from Clifton Green Primary School
Haxby Road Primary School
Haxby Road Primary School focused on the North Transept of the Minster, exploring the Five Sisters Window.
The Five Sisters Window contains the largest amount of Early English ‘grisaille’ - or grey glass to be found in a single window anywhere in the world. It consists of five lancets, each of which is 50 feet high and 5 feet wide, and it contains more than 100,000 pieces of glass. Each lancet repeats a different geometric shape, and it is thought to have been influenced by Islamic patterns and designs.
Using the Five Sisters Window as inspiration for their art work, pupils developed an understanding of how small pieces of coloured glass are arranged to form intricate patterns and designs. Pupils talked about the connections that the Five Sisters Window has to other faiths. Pupils were inspired by the patterns to construct five lancets using the basic design principles - balance, emphasis and movement.
‘It was a great privilege to take part in such a unique project. The children all really enjoyed the experience and gained an incredible insight into their heritage. They produced amazing work which we are all very proud of.’ Stasia Jackson, Teacher fromHaxby Road Primary School
‘I Matter Here’ Schools Outreach Project
‘I matter here’ was a lantern project in celebration of ‘York Minster Nights’, a fringe festival of the city wide ‘Illuminating York’ festival from the 30 October-2 November 2013. The theme for the project was Remembrance; drawing upon the season of All Souls and All Saints, pupils explored the concept of looking forwards and looking backwards, thinking about how and why we remember, and in which ways we leave our mark behind.
Investigating these themes through discussion, drawing and writing, each pupil designed and made stencils to be used as a tool to decorate their paper lanterns.
The lanterns were displayed in the Minster for the duration of the event to show the collective work of 100 children, leaving their mark behind.
Schools invited to join in were: Tang Hall Primary School, Osbaldwick Primary School, Clifton Green Primary School and Haxby Road Academy.
Our aim was to build on the relationships already started with the four local schools who took part in ‘Minster on the Move’ Schools outreach project and to encourage pupils, teachers and families to visit the Minster on an informal base and further links with the local community. Creating an integral piece of artwork for ‘York Minster Nights’ and promoting this to visitors was also key.
What the schools thought about the project
Tang Hall Primary School:
Year group: Year 3 and 4
The sense of achievement felt by the children (and the proud parents) cannot be understated – I watched several of the Year 4 children give their parents an impromptu mini-guided tour of the Minster, using the information they had remembered from last year’s adventure. Their familiarity with a building that had previously been a stranger to them was a wonderful thing to witness. This also inspired the Year 3 children to explore along with their parents.
My class and I are delighted to act as voluntary ambassadors for the Minster, both inside and outside our school.
Osbaldwick Primary School
Year group: 5
The success of the project was evidenced by the children’s attentiveness and levels of enthusiasm and engagement. The discussions were lively, prompting emotional responses in some of the children which again showed that they were thinking carefully about the themes and the significance of remembering past events in their lives.
We would always be open to the opportunity of working with York Minster as, based on experience, presentation, materials and stimulus are of a high quality and are inspirational.
Haxby Road Academy
Year group: 3
The children got a lot out of the session. It really promoted our cultural and historical heritage of our city. Thank you so much!
Many of our children live in York but have never been to the York Minster – it was such a fantastic experience for them. Thank you!
Several of our families went and felt very proud. ……It was lovely for parents and families to feel proud of their child’s school.
Refugee Week Family Picnic Sunday 23rd June 2013
We hosted for the second time the Refugee Action York annual picnic in the Chapter House. Turkish, Kurdish and African families joined our team of learning staff and informal learning volunteers for an indoor sharing of world food, followed by tours to see the new Orb and Undercroft exhibitions. The families had a great time and as a result some of the Turkish ladies said they would now like to arrange a trip to Bedern to view the Minster’s Stained Glass from the Great East Window being restored.
Partnerships drive our Community Outreach work, and we are keen to cultivate new connections with a wide variety of organisations. If you are interested in discussing potential partnership working then please do Richardb@yorkminster.org