The Phoenix and the Four Elements

One of the many amazing artworks in Bristol is entitled “The Phoenix and the Four Elements” and I photographed it way back in October 2015. My pics were not great and the intention was that I would return to it one day and get better images. As usual that never happened and this morning I found the original images and decided to post them.

The artwork, by John Doubleday, may be found on Redcliffe Way. It was commissioned by Phoenix Assurance in 1985 to stand outside their Freshford House building (previously Sun Alliance house, Royal & Sun Alliance House, Canada Life House)

The four reliefs bronze panels depict the four basic elements of alchemy, or mediæval chemistry: Earth (pregnant figure emerging from the clay of the relief, surrounded by orchids), Air (figure seen against the disc of the sun borne along by the wind which blows her hair between the fingers of her right hand), Fire ( figure emerging from the flames with stylised flames to her left)  and Water (represented by the swimming figure).

The “Phoenix” is a mythical bird said to live for some 500 years before immolating itself on a funeral pyre from which it rose again in renewed youth, regenerating itself from the ashes.  

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