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The secret language of sacred spaces: new book on religious architecture launched in Bristol

Press release issued: 6 November 2013

The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces, a richly-illustrated overview of the religious architecture of the world by University of Bristol historian Jon Cannon, will be launched at St Stephen's Church, Bristol this Saturday [9 November].

Encompassing all faiths and all periods, the book looks at how human beings have directed extraordinary amounts of energy toward the creation of architecture that expresses their religious beliefs – from Stonehenge to the Sagrada Familia, the Acropolis to Angkor Wat.

Both an overview of architecture and a survey of major faiths, The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces offers fascinating insights into some of the most impressive man-made structures in the world.

By revealing how these historical places of worship were used and how the tenets of a faith are encoded in both their structure and embellishment, the book enhances our understanding and appreciation of these enduring testaments to belief and ceremony.

The book's superb full-colour photographs are supplemented by ingenious decoder sections: by using the selective isolation of photographic detail, first the reader can see the whole in glorious colour and then the detail in context with fascinating explanatory annotations.

While the book emphasises the key living faiths, with major sections on Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, early chapters also look at the great sites of prehistory and antiquity, including the stone circle at Avebury in southwest England and the Pyramids at Giza.

Jon Cannon said: "I'm delighted that the book will be launched at St Stephen's, one of the most central landmarks in Bristol, and a building that is at once a reminder of the ambition of medieval Christian architecture and of the truly ancient roots of sacred architectural spaces.  It is especially apposite as St Stephen’s play a key role in the cultural and spiritual life of the city and is welcoming to those of all faiths and none." 

The Secret Language of Sacred Spaces by Jon Cannon, Watkins Publishing LTD, £25.

Jon Cannon is a part-time tutor in the Department of History of Art at the University of Bristol, a member of Chapter at Bristol Cathedral, the author of works on cathedrals in general and Bristol Cathedral in particular, and the presenter of BBC TV’s 'How to Build a Cathedral'.


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