Bell ringers mark opening day of Olympics with Martin Creed composition

By Ruth Hazard | 27 July 2012
A photo of a man in a brown jacket standing between two children carrying bells
© Chris Watt
The opening day of the Olympic Games has been welcomed by bell ringers across the country in a nationwide rendition of Martin Creed’s specially created Work No 1197: All the Bells in a Country rung as Quickly and as Loudly as Possible for Three Minutes.

An open invitation was issued for the public to take part in the London 2012 Festival event, touted as the biggest community project celebrating the games and described by former Turner prize winner Creed as “by people and for people - a massive signal that something is happening."

Thousands of hand bells, bicycle bells and even doorbells were rung by individuals and organisations at 8.12am, with Scottish MSPs, Borough Market Traders, RAF and Army crew and even the Mayor of London playing along.

Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt added a comedy moment to proceedings when he rang a bell which promptly fell apart and hurtled towards a small group of women during a live TV interview on board HMS Belfast.

Big Ben chimed 40 times for its part in the composition, which had to be rung by hand.

The special ringing of the bell inside the London landmark was the first time it has been heard to strike outside of its regular schedule since 1952.

Creed has been a key figure in helping to integrate art with the Olympic games. In August 2008 his sculptural installation to launch the Cultural Olympiad, Work No 850, consisted of a runner sprinting the 86-metre length of Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries every 30 seconds.

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