Water is one of the most fundamental things in life, and something that we take for granted in the West. Without water, very little, if anything, can survive.
Art and buildings that reflect the natural world have always interested me. How the artist or architect and builder incorporates nature can reflect human ingenuity and, in some cases, an appreciation of the world that we live in, or, in other cases, a sense of dominating it.
The relatively new ‘funky font’ at Salisbury Cathedral captured my imagination when I visited the Cathedral last year with family. It wasn’t something I was expecting, and hadn’t been there when I previously visited. The font was installed in 2008.
Designed by William Pye, it is the first permanent font at the Cathedral for over 150 years. The font shows the contradicting nature of water - contrasting its still reflective quality with the more animated overflowing spouts at each of the four corners.
Like many artists, Pye drew inspiration from the natural world and, in particular, water. The font he created for Salisbury Cathedral made me realise a couple of things. Firstly, I have often appreciated, and photographed, the reflective and fluid quality of water.
Sometimes on my ramblers walks in the countryside, I often photograph streams and ponds we come across and manage to get the sky along with the trees and shrubs reflected in it.
Art and architecture is not immune to the natural world. Many modern buildings are made of glass, and often find myself drawn to them in order to take reflect, and sometimes transient, photos of a bustling modern world.
Secondly, I have always been interested in the architecture of religious buildings. Religious buildings not only reflect the spiritual and religious outlook of a community, but it can also reflect its character.
What I found the font doing was reflecting the history, spiritual leanings and character of the Cathedral back onto itself. Like water, there is a sense of fluidity and change, but also a depth to it, even if none of these were readily apparent.
Water can be still, appear to be still, and have varying degrees of movement. It can be translucent and show it’s innermost workings, but also reflect back at us not only ourselves, but the world around us.
Like so much in this world, it is full of contradictions. And without water, we probably wouldn’t be alive.