Sound II at Winchester Cathedral – Winchester, England - Atlas Obscura
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Winchester, England

Sound II at Winchester Cathedral

This silent sentry in the crypt below a large Gothic cathedral is often knee-deep in water. 

Sir Antony Gormley’s sculpture entitled Sound II has stood in the Crypt below Winchester Cathedral since the late 1980s. During the rainy months the mysterious sculpture can often be found holding water in its cupped hands, silent in contemplation as the level rises around him to cover the stone floor.

As he often does, Gormley used his own body to cast the distinctive, moody sculpture, first in plaster. The final piece was then fashioned around the plaster form from sheets of lead, soldered at several joints. The result is both smooth and broken, matte in finish yet gently glowing.

The installation of the sculpture was part of an effort by the Cathedral to introduce contemporary art into the Gothic masterpiece. Gormley, along with other artists like Barbara Hepworth and Cecil Collins, donated the work to the Diocese, providing it with an unexpected backdrop. 

Winchester Cathedral was founded, in its original incarnation, in the year 642. That first building is close by, but was replaced a few hundred years later with this one, one of the largest cathedrals in all of Europe, dating to the year 1079. The Crypt is some of the earliest stone work completed, surviving intact to this day.

Sound II stands like a sentry beneath the nearly 1,000-year-old stone mass, and it is often knee deep as the Crypt routinely floods. There is a tube mechanism through the body, so as the water rises it fills his cupped hands. The metal man seems unfazed by the outpouring.

Know Before You Go

Winchester is 70 miles southwest of London, near Southampton. The Cathedral is open every day of the year (except for necessary closures) and the crypt is open Monday through Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm, Sunday from 12.30pm to 3pm.

Services are of course free, but they do charge admission for tours – and your entry fee allows you access for 12 months. Adults are £7.95, students £4.45, and kids under 16 with a family are free.