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Ely Catherdral


A new exhibition 'The Secret Life of Ely Cathedral' will open at the Cathedral on Wednesday 6 April 2016. 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.

These include:

  • The Cathedral's famous Prior's Door returned to its original glory for the first time in 850 years with the 'Christ in Majesty' Tympanum, by Kimberley Allen.
  • A vast crown of thorns sculpture suspended below the Octagon Tower, by Jane Frost.
  • A spectacular film of Saint Etheldreda returning to the Cathedral from the past, by Cary Outis.
  • The people who make things happen, and keep the history safeguarded: "The Organist" by Tom Jones, "The Planning Meeting by Caroline Forward, "The Archivist" by Steven Bramble.

OuseLife has had unprecedented access to the people and buildings of the Cathedral. Through these connections artists have hadthe opportunity toglimpsebehind the scenes ofCathedrallife, past and present.This exhibition includesa 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.

OuseLife member and artist contributor Caroline Forward said:

"This exhibition draws from a treasure trove of objects, experiences, stories and people who make the Cathedral what it is. We've been inspired by the passion, knowledge and enthusiasm of all those involved in Cathedral life and have tried to bring this out of the shadows."


For further information including images of works and for interviews, contact Caroline Forward on 01353676227 and


  1. The exhibition, which runs until 2 May, inclusive, will be opened at a Private View on 8 April 6.30pm to 8.30pm.
  2. Art works making up the 'Secret Life of Ely Cathedral' will be available to purchase until the exhibitions closes, with a commission on sales going to the Cathedral.
  3. The OuseLife drawing group began on a cold February evening in 1997. Five determined artists braved the icy weather and lonely roads to meet in a furniture workshop in the tiny hamlet of Little Ouse. There, amongst the woodworking machinery and sawdust, they spent a happy two hours drawing from a life model.The group continues to meet weekly, and has held a number of successful exhibitions, and published two books. The group is a not for profit organisation. The philosophy of the group is to provide a space and a model from which the artist can work in whichever way they choose. This provides essential practice, discipline and observation for the group's artists, who include painters, sculptors, ceramicists, printmakers, illustrators, photographers, jewellers, textile and environmental artists. It lays the draughtsmanship groundwork to take on the wider challenges the artists set themselves.

"Life drawing practice is to me like the scales are to the piano player."