GOTHIC: Putting it together

The Diorama

The Oxford Museum of Natural History is a spectacular building and a really interesting example of Gothic Revival architecture. I created a large scale diorama of the Oxford Museum inspired by this display  I’d seen in the ‘Victoria Revealed‘ exhibit at Kensington Palace.  I found a great photograph taken by Rob Leslie and he generously e-mailed me a high-resolution version.

I created a model to figure out how many times the image needed to be layered and how the pieces should be positioned to create a sense of perspective. Then I had the picture printed out and glued it to pieces of foam core. Pro-tip: glue paper onto both sides to stop the foam core from curling. I used four bottles of rubber cement to make this display! Next time I think I’ll pay extra to have it mounted directly onto foam core.

After gluing the images onto foam core and cutting the pieces out, I put them into a large display case. I supported each layer of foam core with pillars and a whole lot of duct tape – none of which could be seen when the display case was closed. The light inside the display case really looked like it was streaming through the museum’s glass ceiling – it looked great and the display was a hit!



The Paper Displays


I used paper to decorate two of the displays for ‘Gothic Revival: Medieval vs. Modern’ and am really pleased with the results! They look great and were extremely affordable. The cost of decorating these two displays was $30!

I used an illustration by Gothic Revivalist August Pugin to create a pattern that I traced and cut out with an exacto knife. Next time I might use a die cutter!


I put the gothic tracery against a blue paper background and put the shield of St James Cathedral in the corners.


I used this gothic arch from the V&A to create the pattern for second paper display.

Canopy Arch, London, circa 1365, Victoria & Albert Museum. (W.21-1921)




The Stained Glass Displays

Gothic Revival: Medieval vs. Modern.

I wanted to incorporate stained glass windows into the exhibit design for a number of reasons. The original watercolour designs for the windows at St. James Cathedral were on display and I wanted to bring as much of the Cathedral into the Archives & Museum as I could. I was also interested in highlighting a controversial topic that was outlined in the text panels – and yes I’m still talking about stained glass windows. Figurative stained glass windows, which brought biblical scenes to life, were the triumph of the medieval Catholic church. Their incorporation into Anglican Gothic Revival churches was hotly debated by 19th C. congregations. One of the main themes of the exhibit was how the Gothic Revival movement led to Catholic styles (and traditions!) being championed by Anglican churches and ecclesiologists (people who study what churches should look like and why).

I attempted to transform some ho-hum display cases into pillars of light by using vinyl window decals. I climbed up on a ladder to get close up photographs of the stained glass windows in St. James Cathedral’s chancel and had them printed onto matte, semi-transparent decals. I put some white paper behind the front panels – to make the colours stand out – and left the sides semi-transparent. I can’t say the effect rivaled medieval windows, but the decals looked pretty sharp!


– Shannon Quigley

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I'm a dye hard fan of textile history and come from a family of crafters. I'm interested in learning more about embroidery by trying out age old techniques with a contemporary twist. I hope you enjoy looking through my projects and that they inspire you to give stitching a try!