York St Mary's

2009 Installation: Five Sisters

In 2009, mosaic artist Emma Biggs and her art critic and artist husband Matthew Collings created Five Sisters, inspired by the famous window of the same name in York Minster.

This huge 13th century window is made up of 100,000 pieces of glass and Biggs used 10,000 pieces of broken medieval pottery from York Museums Trust’s collection to make the mosaic on the floor of St Mary’s.

Oil paintings, based on the same visual principles, and painted by Collings, complemented and echoed the beautiful muted geometric appearance of the mosaic.

The artists wanted visitors to look at the installation not just as a piece of art, but as a way of looking at history – to look at the work of the hands that threw the pots, adhered the handles and stacked the kiln; at the work of the archaeologists who unearthed the ceramic fragments, the volunteers who cleaned them, the art gallery that housed them and the taxpayers who funded their preservation.