Although I’ve done the Mad Alice piece for the Haunted York series I thought it might be a good idea to start a piece that used an actual ghost as its subject.

If you’ve ever done one of the ghost walks in York you may be familiar with the girl at 5 College Street. It’s a fabulous location, right next to the East face of the minster and sitting at the end of the street that houses St William.s College (which has its own ghost story that I’ll relate in a future post). Number five is a small, medieval house whose residents fell victim to the plague in 1604 and unfortunately for the young lady that lived there she was mistakenly thought to have died along with her parents and the house was duly boarded up as part of the ongoing plague control measures. Having recovered, she found herself imprisoned in the building that was to become her tomb and the ghost stories attest to the noise of agitated footprints and the sound of a child crying.

We shan’t spoil the story by wondering how anybody actually knew this, given that she was barricaded in her house. Instead we shall allow a cold shiver to run down our spine and be thankful that modern day York seems to be free of such inconvenient epidemics.

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Graphite and collage on plywood board
20” x 30”

According to the Roman legend, Minerva was born when she sprang out of her father Jupiter’s head, apparently clad in armour and fully armed, suggesting that she was either ready to do battle with the god that had raped her mother or she was wise enough to come fully prepared for whatever any of the Roman gods had in mind for her.
This, perhaps inevitably, led to her becoming the goddess of wisdom and warfare along with a few additional areas of expertise including poetry, medicine and weaving, the latter skill resulting in a challenge by a mortal girl named Arachne who, rather foolishly, considered her abilities at the wheel to be better than Minerva’s. The ensuing dual of tapestry creation culminated in Minerva declaring herself to be the winner (perhaps a little biased) and turning Arachne in to a spider by banging her on the head three times.

Minerva sits at number three in my Arts Heritage series and a 2nd century statue of Minerva depicts her wearing the same Corinthian style helmet that is now worn by Britannia, which struck me as being a nice visual representation of the evolving British independence that, nevertheless, was still still very much reliant on Rome during the 3rd century AD.

She’s not wearing a helmet in this piece of artwork but I like the idea of possibly doing a second version where she is… although I’ll have to find a decent photo of a Corinthian helmet to use as a reference.

Original Artwork : £290.00

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Ah, now you see we’ve been here before. I tried (again) to capture Brigantia and once again I failed.

The drawing here was based on a photograph of a model that, I think, looks very British, but having drawn her she doesn’t have that primitive Celtic distinction that I’m after. She struck me as being regal and aloof, traits that I think work much better for Britannia.

So, she’s now Britannia.

Who was number four in the Arts Heritage series and occupied a place on the twelve part timeline that seemed perfect to symbolise the Roman departure and the slowly forming identity that was the Britain of its indigenous people. Although the Romans had created a legacy that wasn’t going to disappear in a hurry, Britannia, who was associated by them with their own Victoria, goddess of victory, could now be claimed as Britain’s own, complete with trident and shield and sporting a very un-British Greek helmet (I’m no historian, but perhaps we didn’t have our own helmets back then).

At some point she managed to get lumbered with an equally un-British pet in the form of a lion but never mind, they looked good on a coin, which is where they happily stayed until they were unceremoniously removed in 2008 as part of a modernising upgrade. Britannia had actually appeared on Roman coins as far back as the first century but her appearance on British coins took until 1672, when she appeared on a farthing. The removal of the symbol of Britain caused a bit of a stir (at least amongst the British press) and with what appears to be a certain amount of relenting Britannia re-appeared on the new £2 coin released in 2015.

Not, I have to be honest, being terribly interested in coins I’m planning to try and evoke the spirit of what Britannia symbolised in those formative years, when Britain was being forged by waring tribes and invaders.

I’ll have to have another go at Brigantia when I’ve summoned the strength…

And if you’d like to share that would be fab…


This was originally Brigantia, the first of the York Art heritage series. In fact this is my third attempt at Brigantia, and that’s just for this art project. My attempts at her for the art heritage project are detailed in an earlier post, but it’s becoming clear to me that she is an elusive spirit, one that I may never get. Which doesn’t mean I’ll give up, and while I keep trying the art doesn’t necessarily have to go to waste.
Having realised that this was not Brigantia it struck me that (in my opinion anyway) she worked as Minerva, and although she needs a bit of work I’ve found some good collage materials for her and so all should be well.
Until I try Brigantia again…

And if you’d like to share that would be fab…