This model has been in place for some years now, by the west front of the Minster. I’ve only recently appreciated the work that went into it.
I noticed the braille on the model, and read the names of the organisations who had paid for its installation. I saw it as a tourist-orientated thing, mainly. I imagine many York residents have also walked past it without much interest.
It was on a December day, when the light was very low, that I realised how beautiful it is, now age has worn away some of its original colouring and brought out bronzed highlights. It looks this way because it is designed to be touched, and the touching – and I guess some natural weathering – has given it its new extra colours.
When I made the effort to research it, I realised I’d been rather ignorant and unappreciative. It has a wealth of experience behind its creation.
The design was based on discussions with members of the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society. Buildings of importance to blind and visually impaired people were specially detailed, and the roads and crossings frequently used were emphasised.
Its patina will develop over the years, formed by touch, and weathering. If we can see, the green gives way to metallic shades of brown, in different hues. If instead we’re touching the rooftops and feeling our way down the streets, it must feel under fingertips more smooth in well-travelled places. Just as the steps on the city’s walls, after generations of footfall, look smooth in the centre.