Northern Lights at York Minster – Review and Photoset

What a treat for York to have its greatest landmark brought to life in such a beautiful way. The Projection Studio (the brain child of Ross Ashton, originally from Sheffield) used Ashton’s artistry to project moving images to create a wonderful masterpiece across the great vaulted nave of the Minster. He has been described as having an “instinctive understanding of the relationship between artwork and structure, lights and surface, object and subject.” Looking at the displays illuminated in front of us with accompanying soundscapes from Karen Monid, we can confirm that it all worked together perfectly.

By Martin Frank

Working with Neil Sanderson (Director of York Minster’s fundraising), the two artists have created an awe inspiring montage that will be talked about for many years to come. Spectacle aside this has been commissioned to help raise much need money for the repair and restoration of one hundred and twenty-eight medieval stain glass windows. This modern approach to raise awareness has left us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to see our Minster in a new light, literally. However, be warned, this performance was on a short run and has already been dismantled by now (hopefully we may see something similar in the near future!

The lights and sounds took us on a journey – you’ll be in a storm, see a forest of flowers rise and grow across the great cavernous Nave, and the sky will come through, inviting the outside in. These are warm cosy welcoming images working existing structures to make you feel that the Minster itself is alive – it’s immersive and you’ll become lost in another place and time. Day turns to night and shooting stars pass by, and there is a great storm with flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder with rain seems to be coming down from the ceiling itself. There is a bird that flies about the Nave that we thought for a second was real and had been trapped inside, with it moving through nature and the sounds of birds, wind and rain, to the time when the Minster was built. There were glorious images of old Kings all above and all around us the sound of the York Minster choir singing chants added gravitas to the room. Hell came soon and the room was ablaze with fire, demons and the walls glow red as the mood changes again – we saw this dramatic sequence run many times over the course of the evening, and found new gems in this crowning glory each time.

Northern Lights is a fascinating new way to look at our own York Minster – it’s usually pale and cold and towering above us, but this projected performance of light, images, sounds and music brought the enormous space inside much closer to the real world.

A must see event.