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Font and plinth - 'Ichthys' font

'Ichthys' font

  • Object:

    Font and plinth

  • Place of origin:

    Stroud (made)
    England (plinth, made)

  • Date:

    2004-2005 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Reid, Colin, born 1953 (artist)
    Partridge, Jim, born 1953 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Optical glass, cast and polished; wood (oak)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Revd. Richard McLaren in memory of his great-great-aunt, Gertrude Jekyll

  • Museum number:

    C.409:1, 2-2017

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 84, The Whiteley Galleries, case BAY1 []

This font by Colin Reid formerly served as the prize for an awards scheme for an Artwork in Ecclesiastical Space that the Art and Christianity Enquiry Trust (ACE) initiated in 2003. Another prize for the awards scheme for Religious Architecture, in the form of stained glass panels by Graham Jones, is displayed at the far end of the V&A's Sacred Silver and Stained Glass gallery. ACE promotes understanding of the links between religion and the visual arts. Together, the prizes celebrated contemporary artistic achievement in religious settings.

The design of the font recalls the Greek word for fish, ichthys, whose letters represent the words for ‘Jesus Christ God’s Son Saviour’. The early Christians used the fish image to communicate their baptismal creed. It appears in the 1st-century catacombs in Rome and still has a special significance for many Christians today.

Physical description

Baptismal font of optical glass with fish forms embedded in the glass; blackened oak plinth.

Place of Origin

Stroud (made)
England (plinth, made)

Date

2004-2005 (made)

Artist/maker

Reid, Colin, born 1953 (artist)
Partridge, Jim, born 1953 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Optical glass, cast and polished; wood (oak)

Dimensions

Height: 15 cm, Width: 50 cm, Depth: 50 cm, Height: 100 cm overall glass font on wood plinth at rear, Height: 90.5 cm overall glass font on wood plinth taken at front, Weight: 60 kg glass only taken from previous condition reports, Width: 53.7 cm greatest, font on plinth, Depth: 53.7 cm greatest, font on plinth, Height: 82 cm plinth, Width: 36.5 cm plinth, Depth: 36.5 cm plinth

Object history note

This font was commissioned by the Art and Christianity Enquiry Trust as the prize for an awards scheme for Art in a Religious Context that they initiated in 2003. It sits on a plinth designed by Jim Partridge.

Historical significance: The design of the font recalls the Greek word for fish,' ichthys', whose letters represent the words for 'Jesus Christ God's Son Saviour'. The early Christians used the fish image to communicate their baptismal creed. It appears in the 1st-century catacombs in Rome and is still a potent sign of Christian faith today.

The donor, former Chair of the Art and Christianity Enquiry Trust, is great-great-nephew of the famous garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932). Though he never knew her, he wanted to dedicate his gift to her memory. In 1861, Jekyll, a keen painter, began studies at the Normal Training School of Art, South Kensington. This was the precursor of today's Royal College of Art and as such, inextricably linked to the history of the V&A. She was interested in the science of colour and optics and carried this through to her garden designing later on. She attended lectures at the School of Art by John Ruskin, William Morris, Richard Dresser and Richard Redgrave.

Historical context note

Colin Reid wrote in 2004: 'If I were to identify a single thread that runs through my work it would be the influence of nature. My current interest is in natural materials that have been worked by craftsmen's hands in the past and are eroding and reverting to nature. The medieval stone carving high on Gloucester Cathedral is being restored and the stone-masons have erected scaffolding giving access to normally inaccessible stonework. This I have cast and used as the starting point for new works'.

Descriptive line

Cast and polished optical glass font with fish inclusions, Colin Reid, 2004-05 and blackened oak plinth, Jim Partridge, 2004-05.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Clare Beck and Kathleen Slater (eds.), Colin Reid: glass sculpture, Farnham 2013, pp. 120-121, Ichthys illustrated, including silicone cast of fish used for this sculpture.

Labels and date

‘Ichthys’ Font
This font by Colin Reid is the prize for a biennial awards scheme for Art in a Religious Context, initiated by the Art and Christianity Enquiry Trust (ACE) in 2003. Another prize for Religious Architecture, in the form of a stained glass panel by Graham Jones, is also displayed in the V&A’s gallery of Sacred Silver and Stained Glass. ACE promotes understanding of the links between religion and the visual arts. Together, the prizes celebrate contemporary artistic achievement in religious settings. They are shown in the V&A, but loaned for temporary display in the award winners’ own sacred space every two years.

The design of the font recalls the Greek word for fish, 'icthys', whose letters represent the words for ‘Jesus Christ God’s Son Saviour’. The early Christians used the fish image to communicate their baptismal creed. It appears in the 1st-century catacombs in Rome and is still a potent sign of Christian faith today.
London, England, 2004–5; the glass by Colin Reid
(born 1953); the plinth by Jim Partridge (born 1953)
Optical glass and blackened oak
On loan from the Art and Christianity Enquiry Trust; commissioned
for the ACE award for an Artwork in Ecclesiastical Space [22/11/2005]

Materials

Optical glass; Oak

Techniques

Casting; Polishing

Categories

Glass; Christianity; Religion

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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