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Half way through York Minster referb


12:00am 19th August 2012

A ten million pound refurbishment for York Minster is half way through.

The scaffolding on the iconic building is all part of a huge project to restore a stain glass window.

Eventually it will depict the story of The Apocalypse.

It's expected to be completed and revealed in 2016.

York Minster Statement:

Conservators working on the restoration of the Great East Window at York Minster have completed the conservation of half of the panels in the stunning medieval window which depicts the story of the Apocalypse.

York Minster's Great East Window contains the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain, and was designed by one of the 'grand masters' of glass art, John Thornton. Started in 1405 and completed in 1408, the main part of the window depicts the Apocalypse, and is recognised around the world as being some of the finest medieval stained glass still in existence.

The restoration of half of the Apocalypse panels is now complete thanks to the tireless work of the York Glaziers Trust.

Sarah Brown, Director of York Glaziers Trust:

"This is a significant landmark in the restoration project, as each of the 108 panels require painstaking research, documentation, examination, conservation and repair of the many thousands of components that make up this incredible glass masterpiece.

Each panel is a work of art in its own right, each piece painted with the skills of a Van Eyck or a Vermeer, with an amazing delicacy that can now be fully appreciated as we look at the panels up close."

The window is being restored as part of the five year York Minster Revealed project, generously supported by a £10.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), due for completion in 2016. However, visitors to York Minster will not have to wait until 2016 to see some of the completed restoration work, as a number of the panels will go on display later this year when a new state-of-the-art exhibition space, known as The Orb, is installed in York Minster's East End.
It is envisaged that the new exhibition will give visitors a better understanding of the artistry that went into creating hundreds of stained glass masterpieces that are on display in York Minster.

Canon Glyn Webster, Acting Dean of York:

"The scale of the building, and the abundance of beautiful stained glass in it can often mean that it becomes somewhat overwhelming - there is such a huge amount of glass to look at, and the scale is so great, it is not until you take some time to look at some of the individual windows that you begin to appreciate these great works of art.

"These windows are so much more than mosaics of coloured glass, as each piece is diligently hand painted as part of a much larger design to create a beautiful image that changes as daylight filters through it."

Huge stained glass windows, as seen in York Minster, were created to reflect the theology and symbolism of medieval Europe. At a time when few other buildings would have used glass in windows, the scale and colour of these windows would have been in huge contrast to the dingy homes that most people would be used to. The glass allowed light - which is intrinsically linked to God and Heaven from the first few words in Genesis - into God's house.

The window's artist, John Thornton, is credited with being one of the most admired and respected artists of his day, invited to York from his native Coventry to complete one of the fifteenth-century's most prestigious commissions in a city already famed for the skill of its glaziers.

York Minster holds a copy of the contract by which John Thornton was commissioned to undertake the work, which is the only written document linking him to a specific window in existence. It required Thornton to do all of the 'cartooning' (full-scale design of the window) of the window's 311 panels himself, and also to do some of the painting 'with his own hand', although with a project of this size, he would have had a team of artists working to his design. The document shows that he was paid £56 for his involvement in the project, and it is known that he received a £10 bonus for its completion on time.

Visitors to York Minster can see a nearly life-size replica of the window hanging in its place at the moment, and watch conservators of the York Glaziers Trust at work on tours of the Bedern Glaziers Studio each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2.00pm. Click here for more information.

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