Origami Doves at Salisbury Cathedral

Written by RussellBeginner, Birds, Videos


Traditional Origami Dove

“Peace is not something you wish for. It’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.”

-John Lennon

About Salisbury City of Doves

Following successful installations at the Abbey of Dormition in Jerusalem, Heiliggeist Church in Munich, St Joseph’s Church in Burghausen City and St Martin in the Fields, London, German artist Michael Pendry has brought his popular art installation to Salisbury Cathedral.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

Called Les Colombes, Pendry’s exhibit is a collection of 2,500 white traditional origami doves, suspended above the Nave of the Cathedral, resembling a flock of birds in flight. Pendry hung each dove himself over a period of several hours.

The original aim of bringing Les Colombes to Salisbury was as part of the Cathedral’s New Dawn series of events to mark the centenary of the end of World War One. Pendry encourages communities where Les Colombes is exhibited to fold their own origami doves.

In Salisbury, this has become the centrepiece of a community project called Salisbury City of Doves.  People are encouraged to write an inspirational message, or a message of hope on a sheet of paper, fold it into a dove and either hang it up or give it to a loved one.

Les Colombe, Origami Doves at Salisbury Cathedral - #SalisburyCityofDoves

Our Visit to Salisbury

When my wife and I heard about the origami doves in the Cathedral, we decided it was time for a trip to Salisbury. My wife runs the travel blog Two Traveling Texans and I had recently taken her to Wiltshire to see Stonehenge, Avebury and other megalithic sites in the area.  

She said she wanted to go to Salisbury, but we didn’t have time in that trip.  Salisbury City of Doves was the perfect excuse. The city seems to have taken the City of Doves theme to heart – or at least the shops have! Several of the stores had doves in their windows.

The installation in the Cathedral is impressive. I’m a big fan of origami done on a large scale and this exhibition doesn’t disappoint. Somebody said it’s best viewed from the very back of the cathedral, and that’s the best way of seeing the whole thing, but I actually preferred wandering along underneath the doves and seeing them reflected in the spectacular font in the middle of the nave.

From certain angles, you can see the reflection of the doves against a backdrop of the stained glass windows. Beautiful. For more information about our trip to see Les Colombes at Salisbury Cathedral, or to plan your own trip, visit the blog post on the Two Traveling Texans website, where you’ll find a video showing the exhibit.

The Les Colombes installation will be available to view at Salisbury Cathedral until 22 July 2018. Late night viewings are running on Thursday 14 June, Thursday 28 June, and Thursday 12 July, from 18.15 to 21.30.

If you enjoyed this exhibit, be sure to check out my post about the origami angels at Ripon Cathedral, from 2020.

Origami Dove Instructions

If you’d like to fold your own dove like those in the Salisbury City of Doves project, I’ve made an origami dove video tutorial showing how to make one.   Of course, you can use any colour paper you like, but I think this one looks best in white – just use the white side of coloured paper. (Get more origami paper here.) If you fold an origami dove, make sure you tag it #SalisburyCityofDoves and put it on Instagram.

I’ll leave the final word to the artist, Michael Pendry:

“Although the doves are folded by different people, in their unity they stand for a fundamental human right – the right to peace and freedom. The time has come to declare ourselves and to stand up for this! May the flock of doves grow, from place to place, from country to country, and across all borders. Peace, freedom, and sustainability in a world of change and disturbance are the key themes of my installations.”

Get Involved

I’d love to hear your views on this origami dove.  If you are interested in folding other origami birds, check out my posts about the origami flapping bird, traditional origami crane, or origami macaw.  Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below, or you find can me on Instagram or Twitter. Check out my Pinterest boards too!


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About the Author


Russell has been folding origami since he was 8 years old and has recently written the book, Origami Made Simple. He is on the Council for the British Origami Society and a member of OrigamiUSA. When he is not folding, he enjoys photography and traveling.

  • Great, true, quote by John Lennon. I am a magic aficionado and know Robert Harbin as being a brilliant innovator of magic illusions. I had no idea he was also a clever origami inventor but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for making that connection for me.

    • Thanks for reading Jack. Robert Harbin has a successful TV programme in 1970s for a while demonstrating origami. There is a series of books done by him as well.

      On the subject of magic and origami, have you come across a troublewit? It’s a length of pleated paper with reverse folds along the length that allow the performer to create a number of different shapes. Houdini was a big fan. It’s kind of fallen out of fashion in recent years but you can find a few people on YouTube doing it. Check out https://youtu.be/rjKXvhWqYRY

      They are pretty simple to make. Maybe I should do a blog post about that.

  • Lovely model and photograph of the cathedral. I recently saw the MIT Origami Dove memorial to Shawn Collier, the Security Guard who was killed by the Boston Marathon Bombers. It was so very moving.

  • I work for a charity for the blind. The blind members and I have just made 600 origami doves to hang onto strings in the shape of a Christmas tree. I’ve just glued the first one on and it’s swung round with the big blob of glue at the front!!!! Nightmare!!! How should we hang them??? Should the string go through the doves?

    • Hi Daizy. Thanks for the comment. Yes, your best bet is to run the string through the dove. My recommendation would be to fold one, work out where the string should go to make it hang right. Then tie a knot in the string to make sure it hangs on the string where the knot is and doesn’t just slide off the end. Then refold with the string inside. However, since you’ve already folded 600 of them (wow!), you’re probably best to pass the string through the completed models. Hope that explanation helps. Reply if you need more help and I’ll knock up a short video.

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