6,000 medieval fragments turned into mosaic at St Mary’s Church, Castlegate

York Press: Artists Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings with Five Sisters mosaic exhibition at St Mary’s Church, Coppergate, York Artists Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings with Five Sisters mosaic exhibition at St Mary’s Church, Coppergate, York

SIX thousand shards of medieval pottery have been used to transform the floor of a York church.

Mosaic designer Emma Biggs and artist and art critic Matthew Collings have arranged the fragments into a contemporary art installation St Mary’s Church, in Castlegate.

Entitled Five Sisters, the mosaic art work has been inspired from the church and the history locked within the 500,000 pieces of glass that make up the 13th century Five Sisters window at York Minster.

“This installation is a way of looking at history,” said Emma and Matthew.

“It is impossible for any work of art to express an idea free from a visual tradition, free from the ideology of the past, and the labour of others. Artists are never the sole creators of their work, and Five Sisters asks you to look at the work of the hands that threw the pots, adhered the handles, applied the glaze and stacked the kiln.

“But you are also seeing the work of the archaeologists who unearthed these ceramic fragments, volunteers who cleaned them, the museum trust that housed them and the taxpayers who funded their preservation.”

Found in the North Transept of York Minster, the Five Sisters Window contains the largest amount of early English grisaille glass in a single window in the world.

Completed in 1260, the window consists of five lancets, each 50ft high by 5ft wide, and contains more than 100,000 pieces of glass.

“Compared with other windows in the Minster, it is noticeably muted,” said Emma and Matthew.

“Individual panes of glass are dissimilar in tone and colour. A pane of glass breaks and someone carefully puts another in its place; centuries of being remade seem to have given Five Sisters a greater visual weight than something conceived from a single unitary viewpoint. Our new Five Sisters at York St Mary’s aims to reorder fragments of historical material in a similar way.”

Roughly the same age as the Five Sisters window in the Minster, the thousands of pieces of broken pots have come from archaeological digs in Yorkshire and are cared for by the York Museums Trust.

Five Sisters will run until November.

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:27am Wed 27 May 09

johnrich37 says...

This exhibition needs a lot of imagination to visualise the concepts the artists intended.
Imagine thousands of pottery shards , each numbered and catalogued,spread in circles and piles,which in close-up resemble the final surface where once a building stood! The "shimmering" monochrome paintings at either end of the hall as exam pieces for a HNC painting and decorating exam.
I wonder why the "Emperors new clothes" analogy springs to mind.
This exhibition needs a lot of imagination to visualise the concepts the artists intended. Imagine thousands of pottery shards , each numbered and catalogued,spread in circles and piles,which in close-up resemble the final surface where once a building stood! The "shimmering" monochrome paintings at either end of the hall as exam pieces for a HNC painting and decorating exam. I wonder why the "Emperors new clothes" analogy springs to mind. johnrich37
  • Score: 0

9:17pm Wed 27 May 09

RingoStarr says...

No! No! Crap like this will ALWAYS be appreciated by the 'nouveaus'!
No! No! Crap like this will ALWAYS be appreciated by the 'nouveaus'! RingoStarr
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree