Ophelia’s ghost will haunt Lincolnshire church for art installation


An art installation depicting a tragic Shakespearean character will transform the medieval Lincolnshire church where Sir Isaac Newton was baptised, as part of an initiative to open up rural churches and contemporary art to new audiences.

The parish church of St John the Baptist in Colsterworth was the local church of Sir Isaac Newton and his family during the 17th century, and it still bears the mark made by the famous scientist when, as a child, he cut a stone sundial plate with his penknife. His parents are buried in the church and in his will of 1727, Newton left money to the parish for repairs.

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September, this historic church will host Ophelia’s Ghost – an installation from award-winning artists Davy and Kristin McGuire, presented by the Altered arts in churches programme. Altered is a pioneering partnership initiative between the University of Lincoln, artsNK and The Diocese of Lincoln, which challenges audiences to view ancient church buildings in new ways through the prism of contemporary art practice.

Bristol-based artists Davy and Kristin McGuire are recognised around the world for their unique art installations and theatrical projects, many of which are produced under special commission for the Royal Shakespeare Company. They have exhibited across the globe and their independent work saw them collect The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award in 2013, while their commercial commissions include Barneys’ iconic Madison Avenue Christmas windows in New York and a bespoke display for Harrods in London.

Funded by Arts Council England and Lincolnshire County Council, Ophelia’s Ghost has been specially designed and created for St. John the Baptist’s Church in Colsterworth.

Shakespeare‘s Ophelia is a young female character in Hamlet, who appears as a potential wife of the prince and who tragically drowns. She has inspired many celebrated paintings and artworks, but the McGuires’ installation aims to bring the image of Ophelia to life within the small church, where a water surface within the church will become the canvas for an ethereal, holographic projection of the young woman.

Chris Heighton, Arts Partnership Development Manager at the University of Lincoln, said: “We are delighted to be working with Davy and Kristin McGuire, who are multi award-winning artists and have built such a wonderful reputation for innovative and inspiring work. Ophelia’s Ghost will be the seventh commission initiated by the Altered partnership and is unlike anything we have seen before. We look forward to welcoming the public to explore what will be a truly unique installation.”

Ben Stoker, Church Development Officer at the Diocese of Lincoln, added: “Altered strives to inspire all who are involved in the daily lives of churches in Lincolnshire to develop their own collaborations with artists, responding to structures, locations, hidden corners and re-telling the stories deep within the fabric of Lincolnshire Churches.”

Ophelia’s Ghost at the parish church of St. John the Baptist, Colsterworth is open for public viewing from 10am – 7pm on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September 2014.