Northern Lights Shine at the Minster




Artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid returned to York Minster to deliver an immersive and intricately crafted sonic and visual work ‘Northern Lights’.


The video projection and sound installation was commissioned by the York Minster Fund as the culmination of ‘The Northern Lights Dinner’ fundraiser. This was held as part of a four- year campaign to build an ongoing endowment for the protection and restoration of the Minster’s priceless historic glass. This involved illuminating the vault of the nave and famous Great West Window, known as ‘The Heart of Yorkshire’.


Ross & Karen are famous for their projection and audio artworks. Their style of mixed-media ‘installation performance’ has developed over a series of innovative projects at many different locations. They worked at the Minster in 2010 when they produced ‘Rose’, another spectacular artwork which focussed on the celebrated Rose Window. They have also created other artworks for the ‘Illuminating York’ festival in 2008 & 2013.


“York has been very good to us, giving us the freedom to create several major works here. We were delighted to be back, and this time working inside the Minster,”

said Ross.



Northern Lights at York Minster - Photo by Ross Ashton
Northern Lights at York Minster - Photo by Ross Ashton


The 10-minute artwork was seen by an audience of 700 at the Northern Lights dinner. This was followed by two days of performances with the Minster being opened to the public at dusk each night. This allowed another 3,300 people to see the artwork.


The Minster’s nave seating was removed to allow for the location of the dining tables for the fundraising dinner. Apart from the day of the dinner, the nave remained clear, offering the public a rare glimpse of how it would have been up to 200 years ago before seating became common in churches.



Northern Lights at York Minster - Photo by Ross Ashton
Northern Lights at York Minster - Photo by Ross Ashton


‘Northern Lights’ was an ambitious artwork designed to be an immersive experience. Ross’ visual inspiration came from the medieval stained glass itself. This authenticity of i