Thursday, 9 July 2015

Bells project - intro & progress

MA Printmaking friend Charlotte Biszweski is organising a collaborative exhibition and asked me to create a kinetic piece to be part of it, inspired by the ringing of bells at St Mary Redcliffe church in Bristol.

Campanology exhibition poster. Design: Rosie Carmichael


4-11 August 2015
North Cabin, The Control Room, Redcliffe Bridge, Bristol
Five artists from across a multitude of disciplines all participating in this collaborative installation for one week. When the bells of St Mary Redcliffe chime, the piece will come to life.

Charlotte Biszweski, Aoife Barret, Lorna Sylvester, Naomi Greeves, Jono Sandilands.

Facebook event


Research & Concept

As soon as Charlotte told me about the project I knew I wanted to be involved. I had a really vague idea using some of the left over ball bearings from my recent pinball inspired Ball Saver piece.

I did a little bit of online research into St Mary's, they have a really good section on their website specifically about the bells, including ringing times and this document about how the bells are rung.

Prepare for crappy sketches....

I've been thinking about a few ideas of a looping track/marble run style system, the ball bearings ring a bell (or bells) as they gain speed down the track. The balls need to be lifted to the top of the track to create this everlasting loop. Looping and pointless looping has been been a theme in a few of my pinball sketches so really interested in building that into this project.

I'm working towards having a central tower with a ball lifter, then an outer track with multiple bells. The front face will be carved to look like St Mary Redcliffe's bell tower - possible this carving could be used to create a limited run of woodcut prints.

The lift

So how to lift the balls? I have a couple of options which I can also power by a motor. The first evident in my initial sketches is a wheel. The wheel would be geared and with holes in it's face, as the wheel turns it pick up balls at the bottom and lifts them to the top to be released by gravity.

I'm running out of time to experiment and prototyping gears doesn't sound fun without a laser-cutter and only basic hand tools, so online research led me to a collection of interesting marble runs and eventually to the marble pump which I have prototyped:

The ball lifter is a really rough version of the talented Matthias Wandel's Marble Pump. He has a tutorial how to build his much better version.

Also a test with a wire track and bell:


Obviously I'm not going to sit in the cabin at the bridge control room during the exhibition so need to power the crank via a motor.

I've been looking at a 12v Motor from Hobbytronics. I'd also need the Universal Mounting Hub.

Lot's more to do, plan to keep blogging my progress, so please check back or if you are in Bristol look out for the project at the start of August.