More than 1,800 visitors climbed the spiral stairwell to see Beyond the Archives, an eight-day exhibition exploring the visual responses to the mysteries and secrets found in Salisbury Cathedral’s hidden archives.
The exhibition, a collaborative creation by Foundation Art & Design students and local artist Henny Burnett, was part of the Animating the Archives project by Ageas Salisbury International Festival and was a rare opportunity for locals and tourists alike to visit the medieval library tucked away in the corner above the Cathedral’s east cloister.
Guests were given rare access to venture up 37-stone steps to explore the artist’s interpretations of the archives.
Creator of ‘The Mannequin’ a dyed and printed calico, Foundation Art & Design student, Khadijah Bukko from Salisbury said: “This has been the best project we have done this year - my favourite part has been using unconventional materials I wouldn’t usually use.
“It has been exciting to see how we have all interpreted the archives in different ways and created pieces based on our own specialisms.”
In the exhibition catalogue, Khadijah wrote how she was fascinated with the Latin calligraphy, degraded scrolls, wax seals and the spiral staircase.
Jack Somerville from Middle Woodford is off to study Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in September.
The 19-year-old exhibited a photograph that captured the people of Salisbury, inspired by the inalienable rights established in 1215, which are inscribed on one section of the Magna Carta.
He said: “Being able to work with Henny was great; I felt her general aesthetics fit very well with the library and cathedral surroundings.
“Creating art by seeing the archives has been the best bit, especially as it is not something people have access to usually do.”
The Salisbury campus students worked on the project at the start of the year for three to four weeks.
Pieces included textile prints, acrylics paintings, photographs, books, clay tiles and waxed glass bottles, all pictured on postcards made available for visitors to keep as a memorabilia, with students receiving enquiries about selling their work.
Foundation Art & Design lecturer Tracey Bullen said: “This has been an amazing opportunity for students to get involved with their local community.
“The work they have produced through their responses to the archive has reached not only a local and national audience but also an international audience through their involvement with the Ageas Salisbury International Arts festival.
“Jacquiline Creswell, the Cathedral’s Visual Arts Advisor and Curator, congratulated the students on the amazing work, commenting it is some of the best she has ever seen and very much hopes the College and Cathedral can work together again.
“As a department, we look forward to these future projects.”