Church bells, bicycle bells, handbells, ship’s bells, and even mobile phones will sound across Britain in a “cacophonous, amazing sound” to mark the start of the Olympics, artist Martin Creed said on Friday.
The 43-year-old Turner Prize winner was commissioned to create his “Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes” as part of the government’s Cultural Olympiad, encouraging people to take in some culture along with the London 2012 Games.
And in the case of “All the Bells”, said Creed, everyone can even take part. All people need to do is ring any kind of bell for three minutes starting at 8:12am (0712 GMT) on July 27, exactly 12 hours before the start of the opening ceremony pre-show.
If the mobile phone is their chosen instrument, they can download a special ringtone from the project website, where participants can upload recordings of their bell-ringing afterwards. For Creed, speaking at his east London studio, the project is part of a mission to take art out of the gallery into the public sphere.
“Art galleries are... a special place that’s separate from the world and it makes me a bit uneasy, because I think that to a certain extent anything can look good in a gallery,” the British artist said.
“They’re beautiful spaces; protected and cosseted. If my work has to be protected by an art gallery I think that’s not good enough. It’s like a child that can’t make its way in the world. If it’s any good, my work, it’ll be able to survive in a hostile environment.”
“All the Bells” echoes a long British tradition, says Creed, with bells rung out to celebrate historic events like Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation and the end of World War II in 1945. The Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary will join in, ringing ship’s bells and those at shore bases.