As team we decided pretty early on that it would be a huge benefit to our project if we took a trip to a Gothic cathedral to gain some first hand reference and while it would have been ideal to take a trip to Whitby itself we felt that the distance and the cost were too much. Instead we focused on local cathedrals that we could take a day trip too and after whittling the list down we decided on Ely Cathedral.
Up to this point our research had predominately been online using Pinterest as our main tool for storing and sharing our findings online. To begin with we looked at a wise range of Gothic architecture and moods which we would later work to fit the Whitby brief. While we were able to find some great stuff on the web we knew that best reference would come from first hand experience and so we organised our day trip.
Why Ely then? Like I said before Whitby was to far for us to go and Ely offered us something in close proximity to Leicester with a wealth of history and fantastic examples of Gothic architecture as the cathedral was almost completely intact. We also discovered online that they offered daily tours with the purchase of the entry ticket as well as a small stain glass museum on the side. As we were also exploring the idea of implementing stained glass windows within our level we felt that it was an opportunity we couldn't pass on.
To begin with we 360'd the exterior of the cathedral taking hundreds of photos for architectural reference, texture references and lighting references to name a few. The building had a huge variety of Gothic features such as flying buttresses, pointed arches etc. that we used as a base to begin concepting from. After lunch we moved into the interior and I have to say it was incredible. The sheer scale of the inside was just awesome as a group I think we were taken aback at how small we felt inside the cathedral and it's something we want to recreate in our level as mush as possible. During our walk through the interior we were lucky enough to talk to someone about the history of the cathedral and the significance of many of the religious iconography through out the architecture stuff we wouldn't have noticed otherwise and again these ideas are something we want to reproduce.
So how can we apply this to our level? There are certainly a few elements we learned that are unique to Ely but for the most part the majority of what we found out can be used within our environment. We've known from pretty early on that we want to create an artistic interpretation of Whitby abbey using themes and imagery inspired from Dracula rather than a pure recreation of it during the time period. With this in mind there is a lot we can take from this trip.
Our visit to Ely was a great success, we learnt far more than I had imagine on not only Gothic Architecture but the history of British cathedrals and how they fitted into the religious and historical landscapes of the time. Alongside this though I feel that as a team we really bonded coming together really sharing our ideas and beginning to build what we wanted to create for this competition. To me our trip to Ely cathedral signifies a real coming together of our team united by our vision and drive to produce a kickass environment for Off The Map.
P.S. if you want to check out Ely Cathedral, and I'd recommend it, here's the link.