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Exploring Behind the Scenes at Ely Cathedral

The OuseLife artists have been given unprecedented access to Ely Cathedral. For over a year they have been meeting the people who make the Cathedral what it is today, and discovering concealed gems and secret places.

Notable experiences during our time at the Cathedral, have been tours given by 3 very experienced and knowledgeable guides, Barbara McGowan, Mark Bradford and Brian Parsley, all with their own special interests in the Cathedral which they pursue with impressive and inexhaustible passion and enthusiasm. We are deeply grateful to them for sharing with us their special places and infecting us with their deeply held love and respect for what they revealed.


Win exclusive tickets to the launch of #secretlife exhibition 8th April @Ely_Cathedral
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We will email the private view ticket (valid for two people) to the randomly selected follower on 30th March.
The tickets have no cash value and we will not cover any expenses.
The Launch is a Private View of the exhibition on the 8th April. It runs from 6.30-8.30pm but you will need to arrive at 6.30pm.
The guest speakers will include the Bishop of Ely, Bishop Stephen Conway, and noted Art Critic & Historian Richard Cork.

The Secret Life of Ely Cathedral

Featuring major works by nineteen members of the OuseLife group of artists, this exhibition showcases over 80 specially created art works celebrating the Cathedral and the people who care for it.
OuseLife artists have had unprecedented access to the people and buildings of the Cathedral. Through these connections artists have had the opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes of Cathedral life, past and present. This exhibition includes a wide variety of styles and media, reflecting the diversity of the OuseLife artists. A new perspective on Cathedral life is revealed through Painting, Sculpture, Textiles, Photography, Prints, Film, Willow Work and Ceramics. Along with site specific artworks, this collaboration has inspired a wealth of portraits of people involved in the day to day life of the Cathedral.
The art is available for sale, with commission on sales going to Ely Cathedral.
Free admission to the exhibition in the South West transept. Normal charges apply to view the site specific pieces throughout the Cathedral. Free admission with a CB6/CB7 residents pass.

The following articles give an idea of the experiences of the artists over the past year.

Exploring Behind the Scenes at Ely Cathedral

OuseLife artists have had some fantastic opportunities to see some of the workings and hidden gems of the Cathedral. Notable experiences during our time here, have been tours given by 3 very experienced and knowledgeable guides

The Artists' Working Spaces

Artists have worked in different ways and spaces during this project. Here are some of their stories.

The Challenges of Site Specific Artworks

Several artists have made site specific pieces for the exhibition. Here are three of their stories.

An artistic insight into the life of the Ely boy choristers

Tom Jones, one of the OuseLife artists, tells his story. For my contribution to the Secret Life of Ely Cathedral exhibition, I was really interested in the Boy Choristers as a subject matter.

Up the Scaffolding on Ely Cathedral

Caroline Forward shares her story: For many months while we were working on The Secret Life of Ely Cathedral, the Cathedral was shrouded in scaffolding poles while stained glass windows were taken out and returned sparkling clean and full of dazzling colour.

Story Quilt

As part of the project, Jane Frost has been awarded a Community Heritage Fund grant from Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) to support her work in coordinating the project and creation of the Ouse Washes and Fenland Story Quilt as a resource for the community.


Between the Autumn of 2014 and the Winter of 2015, nineteen OuseLife artists have been utterly absorbed by this fascinating collaborative project with Ely Cathedral, a tiny part of which is captured here.

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