An unexpected pleasure

During a recent first visit to Salisbury cathedral I came across a piece of art/sculpture that was truly amazing. The cathedral itself was impressive with a very long history and a wealth of early English sculpture (mainly in stone) and magnificent stained glass windows.

A rather more modern piece (2008) was the “new” font structure in the central aisle. This was a commissioned work from William Pye and was of a blackened bronze bowl structure mounted on and within a Purbeck stone plinth. It took the form of a cross and the bowl was filled to the brim with running water that then overflowed from the four arms onto the floor which was then collected by drainage grills. The effect of this was to give an absolutely flat, ripple and dust free surface. It acted as a perfect mirror which duly reflected the beautiful stained glass windows or the entire vaulted roof structure, depending on the angle and direction you chose to view it from.

This was a truly stunning piece of work that fitted its position perfectly. It was not small and certainly reflected the imposing building it was in. A supply of 3000 l of water was required to operate it! This subsequently made me ponder if anyone had utilised or incorporated water as a feature of a piece of woodcarving? There are indeed woods that are very tolerant to water, e.g. elm, greenheart, iroko etc. I’ve come across wooden boats (with figure heads),oars, watermill paddles and drinking vessels but I can’t recall a piece of woodcarving incorporating water as a part or feature of the design. Have you? If you have then how about a description and better still a picture? Even better of you have made one yourself!

My pictures show the essential features of the piece but not the magic of the set up. If you get the chance go and see it. You will not be disappointed.

by Ken Veal


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