A “Democratic Bell” has been donated to King’s Lynn Arts Centre in order to commemorate tomorrow’s Remembrance Day.
The interactive sculpture has been given by artist Marcus Vergette and is entitled Silent, Beat, Silent.
The 500kg bronze bell is situated in the Shakespeare Barn courtyard, where any visitor is able to come and ring it in honour of those who fought for freedom during war times.
For centuries bell foundries have cast bells in times of peace and cannons in times of war.
Vergette used digital software and the latest casting techniques in order to design and produce his bells.
Remodelling this ancient device of communication, the artist explores its history, meanings and physical properties, creating a process that embraces both art and engineering.
Ringing a bell has always been the privileged act of authority, temporal or spiritual. Vergette’s bells are placed in public spaces, free to be rung by anyone, at any time and thus convey a radical freedom.
The bell was selected for the exhibition Monument, organised between Sainsbury Centre in Norwich and two Interreg partners, Musee de Beaux Arts, Calais and the FRAC Basse Normandie, Caen, as part of the TAP (Time and Place) project last year.
The initiative was a response to the commemorations of the First World War and D-Day landings, for which there were two exhibitions.
Marcus Vergette’s bell was located in the first part of the exhibition where people entered the Sainsbury Centre. It became a ritual for people to ring it as they began a gallery talk and when they were on the way out at the end of the day. In both locations it was rung regularly by the public and created a lot of attention.
Vergette said: “I am delighted that Silent, Beat, Silent is going to be permanently sited at King’s Lynn Arts Centre. Bells gain part of their meaning by who rings the bell and why. In 2003 I was asked by my village in Devon to commemorate the hardships we all endured during the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. We made a bell called “My Feet In Earth. It is thought to be the first public access bell in the UK.
“In order to create a democratic bell that could be rung by anyone, there were many legal and social obstacles that were successfully overcome. The bell now celebrates the communities’ survival and strength, and is rung by many people, for many reasons. Continuing the work I started then in putting bells in the public domain, I have installed a series of bells around the coast of Britain called the Time and Tide Bells, one of which is to be installed at Happisburgh in Norfolk next year.
“The integrity of this bell “Silent, Beat, Silent” is in the choice of location. King’s Lynn Arts Centre’s vision to create a lively and accessible arts hub that engages communities makes it a perfect site for the bell.”
All visitors can come and ring the Silent, Beat, Silent bell during gallery opening times, which is from 11am until 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday until November 21. The artwork will be a permanent piece at King’s Lynn Arts Centre, so visitors will have the opportunity to see it during its next season, which begins on January 23.