Riverside bell will toll to mark changes in climate
A tidal bell which serves as a reminder of rising sea levels will be tolling with the tide at Trinity Buoy Wharf.
Sculptor Marcus Vergette's three-metre high bell will lie at the arts hub opposite The O2, near the Prime Meridian as part of his Time and Tide series.
The bell will be unveiled on September 19 and will be rung by the sea at high tide. As sea levels rise with climate change the bell will sound out more often and at different stages of the tide.
Vergette said: "I hope the bell will become a way for residents and visitors to connect with their own history and environment, as an instrument of measurement, as a musical instrument, and a sculpture.
"The primary intention of this project is to encourage a creative engagement with a wide variety of communities, and for those communities around the bell to imprint their identity onto the bell, both physically and symbolically. It is hoped that this process will continue after the bell is installed, and that the bell can become a focus for festivals, music events, exchanges, etc. Bells speak in celebration and in loss, they are a mouthpiece."
The bell is based on an original design developed by Vergette and Dr Neil McLachlan, a senior research associate in the School of Aero-space, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, in Australia.
Uniquely, from just one strike, the bell sounds different notes one after the other to form a melody.
The Trinity Buoy Wharf bell is the third in a planned series of 12 bells at locations throughout the UK.
Vergette said: "The rise of the water at high tide moves the clapper to strike the bell. Played by the movement of the waves, the bell creates a varying, gentle, musical pattern.
"One of this bell's potential meanings is as a time-piece or time-marker, both in the way the bell is rung by the movement of the sea at high tide daily, and as a long time marker of sea levels and present shoreline.
"As the effect of global warming increases, the periods of bell strikes will become more and more frequent, and as the bell becomes submerged in the rising water the pitch will vary."
The bell is made of corrosion resistant aluminium bronze, the same as boat propellers. Vergette says the bell, with a maximum volume of around 80 decibels, provides a quiet, intimate experience for those nearby. It is designed not to disturb either people or wildlife.
Vergette, a sculptor, jazz musician and farmer, lives on a remote farm in Devon.
He said: "I first became interested in bells at the end of the foot and mouth epidemic in my parish in Devon, when the movement restrictions were lifted and we could leave our farms for the first time in six months.
"My neighbour went up to the church and rang the church bells all day.
"I hadn't noticed that this sound had been missing all that time.
"I was drawn up the hill to the church where he showed me the bells in the bell tower. I was amazed to discover these enormous bronze sculptures hidden away."