Echo Installation Transforms Church Of York St Mary's

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 23 June 2006
photo of lots of hairnets strung suspended on fine strings in front of a church window

The delicate appearance of Echo. Courtesy York St Mary's

The nave of York St Mary’s has been transformed by an intriguing artwork that utilises hairnets and horsehair from violin bows. Echo, an installation by artist Susie MacMurray, will be on display in the church until October 29 2006.

“I have chosen the name Echo because I wanted to create something that would reflect, or echo, the contemplation, memories and history that have taken place at St Mary’s over the last thousand years,” said the artist.

“Untraceable sounds, experiences and emotions that science cannot pin down have existed in the space. My work is a response to this.”

The resulting piece hangs like a cloud which is intended to echo the shape of the nave, as well as the body and the backbone of the church.

MacMurray often works with materials intimately associated with the human body and here she has used the netting that normally restrains human hair.

Through Echo the artist has also attempted to give a fleeting form to what she calls, “the stuff that’s left in the building, which is more than you can explain or understand.” This ghostly reference is very much at home in York - with its many ghost trails and stories.

close-up photo of the installation with an inscription visible on the stone floor

Courtesy York St Mary's

Echo uses space and light to give the medieval church a whole new feel. The individual parts of the installation, which are designed to compliment the building, were made with the help of York St John art students.

“It is great for me to be able to work with the students; there is no way I could do such a project without them,” said Susie.

“We are thrilled to have Susie at St Mary’s,” said Caroline Worthington, Curator of Art for the York Museum Trust.

“Her piece entitled Flock at York Art Gallery has created a lot of interest in the city and we are pleased to have commissioned her for St Mary’s.”

This latest site specific installation is the latest in a series of works that MacMurray has created in historic sites.

In 2000, she made Stratum in a Salford mill using 40kgs feather down, whilst in 2004 she created Argus in the army town of Colchester. Rows of 'blinded' peacock feathers (with their eyes cut out) suggested soldiers on parade.

York St Mary's is a former church which is now a contemporary art venue run by York Museums Trust.

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