Unfolding Origins at Selby Abbey

As a part of our Unfolding Origins Project, this October we commissioned Artist Alun Kirby to create a series of workshops in conjunction with Selby Abbey. Funded by ArtUK, the aim of these workshops was to connect people to public art. Due to COVID-19, the in person workshops were changed to a new digital tutorial format.

Alan started by spending time inside and outside Selby Abbey getting inspired by the sculptures. He used this research to create an online Selby Abbey Sculpture Tutorial. This free video tutorial uses origami techniques to teach participants how to create their own mini sculptures inspired by the sculptures found inside and outside Selby Abbey.

Artist Alun Kirby with the Sculpture Tutorial Kit


Alan also created two sculpture trails of the Abbey, one inside and one outside. Each trail is self-led, so that people can adhere to social distancing.

While anyone can access the tutorial and trail on our website here, there were a limited number of Sculpture Kits that families could pick up for free from Selby Abbey during half-term. These kits included origami templates, a paper folder, additional organic paper, a word search, a glossary of sculptural and architectural elements (many specific to church buildings), colouring pages and instructions.


“We've nearly given out 50% [of the kits] already and we're engaging new people who are coming just for the project, as well as those who are already part of our visitor pool. They're so far mainly hitting Selby residents and the immediate surrounding area and the right age range (we've given out a few to children who are a bit younger). Thank you for all your hard work with it because it's going down amazingly well and we're getting people staying longer and visiting our coffee shop too because of the boxes.”

– Community Engagement Officer at Selby Abbey


Artist – Alun Kirby

Project Manager – Emily Wilson


Unfolding Origins is a project in partnership with the North Yorkshire County Record Office. A special thanks to our project funders Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, ArtUK, Selby District Council, and Richmondshire District Council.

Learn more about our Unfolding Origins Project here.

Following the journey online #unfoldingorigins

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