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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > Faith > features > Salisbury Cathedral's new 'Funky Font'

A model of Salisbury Cathedral's new font

Model of Salisbury Cathedral's new font

Salisbury Cathedral's new 'Funky Font'

Salisbury Cathedral's new font hasn't been plumbed in yet but it's already making waves.

For William Pye 'sculpting with water' is not, as the metaphor suggests, impossible. Far from it. Not only does he make it dance, spin, leap and ripple but even makes it appear to defy all laws.

In fact Pye's mastery of this wayward material has made him one of the most respected water sculptors in the country and one of the most successful.

In the South West alone, his water works can be spotted in some unlikely places. From the giant 'Water Cube' residing at the Burmah Castrol World Headquarters in Swindon to the stepped cascade of water falls 'Aquæ Pembrochiana' at Wilton House.

Salisbury Cathedral's new font

Model of Salisbury Cathedral's new font

But it's in the heart of Salisbury Cathedral that Pye's most exciting and important project to date will soon be found...

For the last 200 years, Salisbury Cathedral has been font-less.  But in September, after 10 years of trying out different fonts for size, the cathedral takes delivery of a brand new font.

Nicknamed the 'Funky Font', by The Telegraph, Salisbury Cathedral's new font hasn't been plumbed in yet but it's already making waves.

Not only is it the only font in the country to need it's own drainage system, dedicated water supply and power supply but it's one of the first to have emerged from behind the pillar to take up 'centre stage' so to speak.

In Salisbury Cathedral the prime real estate reserved for the Pye Font, is the middle of the main nave at the north porch crossing of the cathedral.

Salisbury Cathedral's new font

Wiliam Pye - Reflection 2003

And you can't get more centre stage then that…

Plus at over 10 foot wide, it might not be offering 'total immersion' baptisms, but it's definitely going to be hard to miss.

But what's really going against the flow, with this cruciform shaped font, is it's baptismal water that's definitely showing signs of the Pye treatment:

"The overall design was conceived with the Cathedral in mind," says Pye, "its cruciform shape marking the intersection at the North Crossing within the nave.

"The sculpture captures two states of water in one piece contrasting its still reflective quality with the more animated overflowing spouts at each of the four corners."

Salisbury Cathedral's new font

The new font in the workshop

In fact it's the only font in the country to bubble with 'living' water.  Water literally pumped up from under the cathedral floor into the massive bronze vessel before overflowing in four perfect streams into the bronze grating below:

"On this piece the smooth clear streams of water express more overtly the life giving qualities of flowing water," says Pye, "than previous sculptures sited in the Cathedral."

In fact this hasn't been the first Pye font to have been water tested in the cathedral.  Over the past 10 years several water features have been trialled, including Reflection and Coracle in 2003, but it was Sibirica Minor II in 2005 that took Pye's work from water sculpture to font.

Since then a number of babies have been baptised in Pye's temporary fonts but on 28th September two infants are due to be baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the cathedral's first permanent font for a couple of centuries.

Lets hope, as one worried congregation member put it, that the sound of running water won't have too many people running out for relief.

The font is due to arrive at Salisbury Cathedral on Monday September 8th, 2008.  On 28 September, 2008,  it will be used for the first time to baptise two infants by the Archbishop of Canterbury during his visit to celebrate the Cathedral’s actual 750th anniversary weekend.  For more information click on the link in the right hand column.

last updated: 06/09/2008 at 10:19
created: 05/09/2008

Have Your Say

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Ian Sinclair Smith
The font looks very modern and certainly fits in with the decor.Congrats to The Bensons and the sculptor.Robina Gold Coast Australia

pat searle
saw this on the news, it looks fabulous cant wait to go see it!

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