Description of World Fountain

1935 World Fountain at David Livingstone Centre

1935 World Fountain at David Livingstone Centre

Thank you to Alison at the David Livingstone centre who emailed me this most detailed description of the World Fountain, written and published in the late 1930s. I think it offers a definitive description of the sculpture and I hope in not much detail to compromise your interest.

“Much has recently been written of the great artistic merits of this, the new fountain on the terrace, gifted by the late Mrs A.B Maxwell. It represents a striking achievement on the part of its designer, Mr.F.C Mears and its maker, Mr C.d’O Pilkington Jackson. So without dwelling further on this aspect we may be pardoned if we consider the educational value of a unique monument.Essentially, it is a hemisphere of the terrestrial globe nearly six feet in diameter set in an inner circle of water. From an outer and lower pool, five jets of water are projected from beneath the figures of bronze amphibians so that the cascades impinge upon the top of the hemisphere and drain down its surface to the inner pool. Rainbow effects may be seen if the spectator adapts his stance to the changing altitude of the sun.

Designer and sculptor have each contributed to render this hemisphere a valuable instrument of instruction regarding this character of our Earth. Thus to consider first its size. With a diameter of 5 feet, 10.1 inches the natural scale of this globe is 1:7,200,000 which means that 7,200,000 of these globes set side by side to each other would form a diameter of the Earth, whilst the Sun on the same scale, would be as far away as Milngavie or Lanark! Again, the surface of the pool, from which the hemisphere rises is obviously a plane which would cut the Earth’s centre. However, this plane is NOT the equator, as the hemisphere has been carefully selected to have Blantyre at its highest point. It was chosen for this reason and also to ensure it captured most of Livingstone’s continent, Africa. The meridian plane of Blantyre on the globe coincides with the meridian of the spot where the fountain stands. This fact as once yields an educational result, for when the Sun is shining brightly, we can see where on the Earth there is daylight and where night where our friends beyond the seas are just going to bed or getting ready to rise.

Furthermore, it is possible to distinguish a patch on the hemisphere which is more brightly lit that the rest. At least this can be seen when the polished marble of the ocean is facing the sun directly. At noon this indicates the place where the sun stands directly overhead at the same moment, technically known as the point of “maximum insolation.”It will be on the Equator at the equinoxes and on the Northern tropic at midsummer. An easier matter for most visitors will be the realisation that whilst the watery circle is the only complete “great” circle drawn for us, the drops falling on the top run down all quadrants of innumerable great circles, all of which start in Scotland. Thus, the water drops show us the shortest routes to distant parts of the world in all directions.

All these things can be observed without the help of the sculptor. Yet we find something unique, at least in this country in Mr Jackson’s presentation of four continents in relief, modelled in plasticene, cast in bronze and then set in an ocean of polished green marble. He has shown a fine appreciation of the face of this Earth, in the sense employed by Suess, of the major features of relief, which betray the leading lines of the crustal structure beneath.

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