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'Inspirational' art installation shines a new light on RSPB Minsmere

The ruins of a medieval chapel at RSPB Minsmere have been given a new lease of life as a Suffolk artist’s latest glass art piece A Wing and A Prayer is installed.

In a large field in the southern part of RSPB Minsmere stands a 14th Century chapel, complete with fantastic views of the nature reserve and a colourful history. From being attacked by Luftwaffe fighter planes to rumours of pirating monks, the remains are now found in the shadow of the large white dome of Sizewell B nuclear power station.

Inspired by the rich and varied history of the 1,000-hectare site, artist Arabella Marshall has created and recently installed a beautiful stained-glass window with a contemporary twist.

Minsmere (44081851)
Minsmere (44081851)

Installed as part of the A Wing and A Prayer project, the glass piece stands in one of the original window openings of the chapel ruins and can be enjoyed by visitors walking along the footpath leading from the RSPB’s Visitor Centre at Minsmere.

Matt Parrott, RSPB Visitor Experience Manager, said: “The installation is magical, and the artwork encapsulates so much of the history of this often-overlooked part of the reserve.

"The land here has seen so many natural and man-made changes over the centuries, it’s nice to have something beautiful added that restores a bit of glory to these ruins.”

The project has been nearly five years in the making, in conjunction with the RSPB, Historic England, Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB and Arts Council England.

Arabella’s breath-taking design sees a new light shining across the landscape as sunlight reflects through the sweeping shapes and vibrant colours of the glass panels.

According to the artist, the installation represents the changing world that the ruins have seen over the last 800 years, from flooding and tidal surges, to a war time defence.

Speaking on how RSPB Minsmere and the nature that calls it home inspired her piece, Arabella said: “This is a glorious place where nature thrives under the careful stewardship of human beings. Yet it is also full of contradictions - reminders of the potential havoc we can wreak. I wanted my piece to be an expression of the abundant life here, to bring energy and joy into the ancient ruin that stands broken and bereft. I also wanted it to reflect and find beauty in that brokenness. Ultimately it is a wish (a prayer if you will) for the future.”

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