Summer of cathedrals : What will you discover?

08th June 2023

From Star Wars to the bells of Notre Dame.

And sculptures by leading British artists, artworks that interrogate our environmental impact, community Mystery Plays and an invitation to creatives to come and use our historic sacred spaces.

What will you discover in your local cathedral this summer?

Five contemporary sculptors have been invited to place their work within the interior of Winchester Cathedral for the Elements of Sculpture exhibition. Each piece is site-specific, placed in locations which share the same materials to create new and different ways of seeing and understanding the architecture and objects within the cathedral.

Throughout the exhibition period, which runs until July 2, there are special guided tours, workshops for all ages and an artist panel talk.

Tickets are on sale for Peterborough Cathedral’s exhibition of Star Wars-themed objects from one of the largest private fan collections in the world which opens next month.

The exhibition, called Unofficial Galaxies, includes 121 pieces of memorabilia connected to the franchise including a full-size Landspeeder purchased from London’s Elstree Studios, and the desk of young Anakin Skywalker from the 1999 film The Phantom Menace.

Unofficial Galaxies Star Wars - Peterborough Cathedral

Also on display will be original production items, costumes for characters such as Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Darth Vader, and Star Wars toys from 1977 to 1999.

The Very Revd Chris Dalliston, Dean of Peterborough, said:

“We are very excited to be bringing this extraordinary collection to Peterborough. I was at university when the first Star Wars movie was released in the 1970s and the unfolding story proved a compelling narrative for me, my children and for many millions of people around the world in the years that followed.

“I’m sure this exhibition will draw many people to see it, some of whom will discover our beautiful cathedral and city for the first time. Like many of the exhibitions we have held in the cathedral in recent years, Unofficial Galaxies will not only delight and entertain, but it also has the potential to open the door to bigger conversations, in this case about the age-old struggle between good and evil and the role of a ‘higher power’.

Tickets are on sale and this summer exhibition opens in mid-July until August 29.

Artist, Luke Jerram’s installation Oil Fountain will go on show for the first time in his hometown when it opens in Bristol Cathedral from Wednesday 14 June.

The latest piece by the Bristol-based installation artist will highlight contemporary society’s reliance on oil and encourage debate about its dependency.

Oil Fountain is a fountain sculpture which flows with artificial oil instead of water falling into black mirror-like pools and emitting a distinct smell.

The sculpture has been created from used engine oil and recycled acrylic, with details of plants and animals made extinct by humanity’s impact on nature, laser-cut into the surface.

The Dean of Bristol, the Very Revd Mandy Ford, said:

“We are very pleased to be hosting this thought-provoking piece in Bristol Cathedral.

“Human dependence on oil is a major contributor to global warming and we all have a part to play in addressing this issue and working to reduce the damage being done to our precious planet.”

A programme of environmental-themed events will accompany the installation which is part of the Festival of Nature (10th – 18th June, ).

Please check for the latest update.

The sound sculpture “Silent Echoes: Notre Dame” by American sound artist Bill Fontana has made its UK debut at Wells Cathedral.

The installation, originally commissioned for a partnership between the Pompidou Centre and IRCAM in Paris, has been specially adapted by Fontana for the historic setting of Wells Cathedral’s medieval Undercroft.

Lichfield Cathedral Illuminated Notre Dame


Silent Echoes: Notre Dame” is a response to the devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in April 2019. Currently reduced to silence during the rebuilding, the cathedral’s ten bells nonetheless each respond to the noises of the restoration worksite, the wind, and the murmurs of the city.

Using seismic accelerators attached directly to the metal of each bell, Fontana uses these swirling aural vibrations as the raw material for a multi-layered, ever-changing soundscape.

Fontana is renowned for his ability to reveal the hidden musicality of a built environment.

“We are thrilled to be hosting the UK debut of ‘Silent Echoes: Notre Dame’ in the Undercroft,” said the Venerable Anne Gell, the Acting Dean of Wells. “This is an incredibly moving and thought-provoking installation which allows visitors to experience the sounds of one of the world’s most iconic cathedrals in a completely new and unique way. We are honoured to be able to showcase this work of art in such a historic and meaningful setting.”

Silent Echoes: Notre Dame is available until July 3.

Chester Cathedral is getting ready to host the city’s Mystery Plays – with its huge community cast of local people creating a completely new production of the greatest story ever told.

The Lord Mayor of Chester officially granted permission to the players of the Chester Mystery Plays to perform at Chester Cathedral with the traditional Reading of the Banns ceremony, which began in medieval times, and would be equivalent to our social media of its time, letting the people of the city know that the Chester Mystery Plays were being performed.

Chester Mystery Plays 2023

Chairman of the Chester Mystery Plays company Ian Sanderson said:

“I would like to thank the Lord Mayor, the Town Crier and the dedicated performers from our company for keeping this tradition and the Chester Mystery Plays alive in the 21st century.”

The Chester Mystery Plays are produced only once every five years in the city by a large community company under professional direction. The professional team behind the 2023 cycle includes director John Young, composer and musical director Matt Baker and designer Jess Curtis.

The Mystery Plays open 28 June.

Luke Jerram’s giant illuminated Earth artwork, Gaia, will be suspended in the nave of Durham Cathedral from next month.

A programme of earth-themed events will accompany the installation, including a series of late night, festival-style openings, called Gaia Lates, sustainable dinners under the Earth with Chester-le-Street community café REfUSE, yoga classes, silent discos and a whole host of eco-friendly activities, such as stained glass making, nature printing, floristry workshops and Kombucha making.

Find out more about Gaia at Durham Cathedral here.

Artists and creatives are invited to be inspired by spending a day in the tranquil Cloisters of Hereford Cathedral this summer.

This summer the cathedral will be opening the Cloisters to artists on Monday 12 June, 10 July and 14 August to experience the space and create work in response to this very special location.

Summer of cathedrals: What will you discover? Hereford Creative Cloisters

Following a welcome in the Old Chapel and an opportunity to learn more about the history of the Cloisters, attendees will have full access to the Cloisters, College Hall and Canon’s Garden which leads down to the River Wye.

Artists can choose to set up location in one area for the day, or move around the spaces, and be inspired by the comings and goings and stunning views.

A sandwich lunch and tea and coffee will be provided before an opportunity to come together at the end of the day to share and discuss the work created.

Owen Towndrow, Visitor Engagement Officer, said:

“We are really excited to welcome artists and creatives into our wonderful Cloisters this summer. For those of us who work in the Cloisters on a daily basis, we perhaps take for granted how beautiful they are and the opportunity to share this space through a creative perspective is something we are all looking forward to. For centuries the Cloisters have been an inspiration and it’s a privilege to be able to continue this tradition today.”

The Creative Cloisters session takes place from 10am – 2.30pm and costs £15 (including lunch and hot drinks). Advanced booking is essential via the cathedral website and artists are asked to provide their own equipment.

More details can be found here.

These are just some of the events that are taking place in our cathedrals this summer alongside a daily programme of worship and prayer.

Please check out your local cathedral for what’s on this summer here.