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Hope for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Hope for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The campaign to save the church bell foundry at Whitechapel has entered a new and positive phase. On 3rd December the UK Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government issued a Holding Direction to the Tower Hamlets Development Committee, preventing them from proceeding with the planning application for change of use to a boutique hotel. All decisions about the foundry will now be made by the Secretary of State and not by Tower Hamlets.

While the future of the foundry is not yet secured, this is a moment for celebration and a firm step on the way to reacquiring the historic buildings and converting them into cutting edge foundry facilities. Over the next few days, Factum Foundation and the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust will start on the next stage of the campaign - watch this space for further developments.

To find out about this campaign and about the proposals for the foundry put forward by Factum Foundation and the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, click here.


Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The planning meeting to decide the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry will take place on 14th November. This historic institution, London’s oldest continuous manufacturing business, is threatened with conversion into a luxury hotel. While the property developer, Raycliff Whitechapel LLP, claims that bell casting will continue at the site, this will be merely in a token capacity, with no capacity for any serious casting projects.

The UKHBPT and Factum Foundation have put forward a proposal to restore the building and re-equip it as a technologically advanced bell foundry. This would include a centre for the study of historic casting methods run by Andrew Lacey, a historic casting specialist advising the V&A and British Museum, and the continuation of sand and loam casting of bells led by the foundry’s former tower bell manager Nigel Lacey. There would also be a team dedicated to 3D scanning, and recording the acoustics of, bells around the country - information which would be used to create an open-access archive. The entire space would be used for foundry and foundry-related work, including educational and training facilities. The result would be a space dedicated both to preservation and to new fabrication, providing an extraordinary resource with global reach for the district of Whitechapel.

The UKHBPT/Factum Foundation proposal is supported by the local community, the East London Mosque, Jeremy Corbyn, the local MP John McDonnell, the V&A, the Bartlett, local heritage bodies, the blog Spitalfields Life, many musicians and artists (including Michael Nyman, Antony Gormley, and Grayson Perry), and the majority of the Tower Hamlets councillors.

Sign the petition now and write to the council to voice your opposition to the planning proposal.


Lamassu facsimiles sent to the University of Mosul
Lamassu facsimiles sent to the University of Mosul

Two monumental facsimiles of lamassu, Assyrian winged lion deities with human heads, are now on their way from Madrid to Mosul. After being flown to the city with the help of the Spanish airforce and the Iraqi Government, the lamassu will be installed at the entrance to the student centre at the city’s university in October 2019.

The original statues come from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, a few kilometres from modern Mosul, but were removed from the region, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire, by the British excavator Austen Henry Layard in 1848/9. They are currently in the British Museum, where they were recorded by Factum Arte in 2004.

The lamassu are sent as a donation to the University of Mosul, a city whose cultural heritage suffered vast depredations during the IS occupation of the city from 2014-17. This project is part of a multi-year collaboration between Factum Foundation and the British Museum, and would not have been possible without the support of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (Leiden), the Spanish Ministry of Defense and the Iraqi Government.

Find out more


Jeremy Corbyn endorses the campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Jeremy Corbyn endorses the campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

In London there has been an important meeting in the Mosque with the Local MP and many councillors pledging support for the Factum Foundation and UKHBPT scheme to revitalise the Church Bell Foundry in Whitechapel.

Questions have been raised at the recent Tower Hamlets council meeting and a groundswell of local support for the bell foundry is focussing on Historic England’s incomprehensible support for the developer who seeks to transform Britain’s oldest manufacturing company into a boutique hotel. Protests are now being planned by local groups.

Information about the current events and the new delay to the planning hearing can be found on the Spitalfield’s Life blog and the savethewhitechapelbellfoundry.com website. You can also read Factum Foundation and UKHBPT's proposal for the future of the site.


Unveiling the reconstruction of the sacred cave of Kamukuwaká
Unveiling the reconstruction of the sacred cave of Kamukuwaká

Following months of ‘organic modelling', carried out in close communication with the Wauja community in Upper Xingu (Brazil), the reconstruction of the sacred cave will be unveiled in Factum’s Madrid workshop on 18th and 19th October.

This event, organised by Factum Foundation and People’s Palace Projects, will decide how the reconstruction should be used, when it should be returned to Mato Grosso and how it can be most effective in focussing attention on what is happening in the Amazon. The vandalism of the cave in 2018 was a clear attempt to wipe out the collective memory of the indigenous communities. As Milan Kundera wrote in the Book of Laughter and Forgetting:

“The first step in liquidating a people [...] is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was... The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

The hope is that the reconstruction of the sacred cave will amplify the voice and focus attention on the creation myths and collective memory of the indigenous communities who inhabit the Amazon. A book is being published to accompany the event which contains both the voice of the Wauja and Kuikuro communities that reveals the close relationship between them and their environment. We have a lot to learn from their world view.

Read more about the project here, or watch the film here. You can also listen to a BBC Radio 4 podcast, 'An Orchestra of the Rainforest', following the collaboration of Factum's Nathaniel Mann with the singer Akari Wauja, here.


September talks
September talks

International Committee of Architectural Photogrammetry 27th international symposium, Ávila
September 4th

Factum Foundation Project Director Carlos Bayod participated in a panel on ‘Ethics for Heritage Recording Specialists.’ He spoke alongside representatives from CIPA, the Getty Conservation Institute, Arck-Project, Cyark and ICONEM.

Technicians’ Day, University of the Arts London
September 13th

Carlos Bayod gave a keynote lecture at a day of talks and workshops ‘for technicians, by technicians,’ which this year had a particular focus on digital modes of making.

Conversation about digital technology and art history, Spencer House, London
September 23rd

Adam Lowe, Founder of Factum Foundation and Factum Arte, was in conversation with architect and exhibition designer Charlotte Skene Catling and art writer Jonathan Jones about the ways in which technology can be used to enhance our understanding of art and its history. The event coincided with the exhibition ‘Madame de Pompadour In the Frame’, which is currently running at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire.

ArtTech Forum 2019, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice
September 24th

Adam Lowe spoke about the ARCHiVe initiative at this forum investigating the links between technologies, heritage preservation and the archiving of historical data. The title of the talk was ‘ARCHiVe - Digital Artisans in Interesting Times’.


Recreation of <i> Six Sunflowers in a Vase </i> on show in Tokyo exhibition
Recreation of Six Sunflowers in a Vase on show in Tokyo exhibition

The exhibition ‘Superclone Cultural Properties’ (Sep. 16 –29) at the Tokyo University of the Arts Museum introduces the concepts and material realities that lie behind the reproduction of cultural heritage. The University is currently deeply engaged in research and development relating to cultural heritage protection and the creation of faithful reproductions of cultural assets from around the world.

Factum Foundation participates in this exciting project with a re-creation a lost painting by Vincent Van Gogh – Six Sunflowers in a Vase (1888). The painting, which once belonged to a Japanese collector, was destroyed in the American bombing of Ashiya in 1945. With very little material evidence of the original – one black & white collector’s photograph and a small colour image – Factum’s experts in digital restoration produced a striking recreation of the original based on Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings dating from the same period. The project was filmed for the documentary series ‘Mystery of the Lost Paintings', produced with Ballandi Multimedia and broadcast by Sky Arts.

Find out more about the recreation of Six Sunflowers in a Vase.


Save the date: Conversation at Spencer House
Save the date: Conversation at Spencer House

On 23 Sept., Factum Foundation's Adam Lowe and exhibition designer Charlotte Skene Catling will be in conversation with Jonathan Jones about how technology is being used to enhance our understanding of art history, enabling masterpieces which have been victims of circumstance or history to be seen as they were once intended.

In this talk, Adam Lowe will describe the processes and possibilities of digital recording and reproduction, and consider the relationship between originality and authenticity and issues relating to data ownership and sharing.

Book now!


The Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO gives its patronage to the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative
The Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO gives its patronage to the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative

The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative and its ongoing training programme through the 3D Scanning, Training and Archiving Centre at Stoppelaëre House received the patronage of the Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO.

The TNPI is being run by an entirely Egyptian team supported by Factum Foundation, producing some of the best 3D data that is possible with today's technology. Resolution is vital for many uses that are emerging. The correspondence between the 3D data and the relief carving in the tomb of Seti I makes it essential for condition monitoring and assessing of the vulnerability of the painted walls. In Madrid, we are constantly working to improve both the resolution and the speed at which the data is recorded.

Factum Foundation needs support to carry out the varied and important projects we are generating. Both support for specific projects and more general support is welcomed. If you would like to contact us directly, please write to Adam Lowe at alowe@factumfoundation.org or call +34 915 50 09 78.

Factum Foundation is developing both hardware and software that are having a real impact on preservation and interpretation. It was the high-resolution recording in the burial chamber of Tutankhamun that enabled Nicholas Reeves to develop his theories. A new paper by Reeves has recently been published on Academia.edu.


The campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Tower Hamlets Planning Committee meeting to decide the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, due to happen on 30 July, was differed. It may happen in September / October, but it is hoped that the developer and the council will realise that there is a clear proposal on the table to retain this historic site as a full working bell foundry. Factum Foundation’s mission is to merge new technology and traditional skills. The bell foundry offers many opportunities for this approach, both in making new bells and preserving existing ones.

Read the article published in the Daily Mail on 05/08/19.
Listen to this podcast on BBC Radio (starts at 01:18:00 - 16/08/19).

You are making a difference!
Please follow www.savethewhitechapelbellfoundry.com.


The lost silver map of Al-Idrisi

Factum Foundation’s recreation of the lost silver map of Al-Idrisi is now complete. The map, a reconstruction of a lost 12th-century original following a 16th-century Ottoman copy, was exhibited at Daniel Crouch Rare Books at the Masterpiece London art fair, and will be on view at the exhibition ‘Talking Maps’ at the Bodleian Library in Oxford until 8th March 2020.

The 12th-century cartographer Al-Idrisi drew on centuries of Greek, Roman, and Islamic mapmaking knowledge to create a vast silver map of the world for Roger II of Sicily. Although the silver disc is now lost, Al-Idrisi’s geography is known through later copies of a book of 70 regional maps which he created to accompany it.

Over the past three years, Factum Foundation has used the most advanced digital technologies to create a new interpretation of Al-Idrisi’s map, which has been routed onto silver using CNC milling. Find out more about the history of the map and the technologies used to recreate it here


Recording a 19th-century relief map of Jerusalem
Recording a 19th-century relief map of Jerusalem

In July 2019, a team from Factum Foundation used photogrammetry to record a 1:500 scale model of Jerusalem - the first topographic relief to aim for scientific accuracy. The hand-painted zinc model, which measures 4.5x5m, was made between 1864 and 1873 by a Hungarian Catholic bookbinder, Stephen Illés, and shows the city when it was still under Ottoman rule before the British Mandate divided it into four quarters.

A sensation at the 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna, the map was eventually purchased by public subscription in Geneva and displayed there for four decades. In 1984, it was sent on permanent loan from the Maison de la Réformation S.A. in Geneva to the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, where it is currently on display. Factum Foundation has recorded the relief for ARCH (Alliance to Restore Cultural Heritage in Jerusalem).


Book launch: ‘Antonio Canova. Atelier’

A new book, Antonio Canova. Atelier, tells the story of the ongoing collaboration between Factum Foundation and the Musei Civici di Bassano del Grappa, a project which is transforming the conservation and display of drawings and sculptures by the neoclassical sculptor. The book has been edited by the museums’ director Chiara Casarin in collaboration with the founder of Factum Foundation Adam Lowe.

Since 2016, Factum Foundation has worked with the museums to digitise 18 of Canova’s albums and sketchbooks, create facsimiles of two albums and of a terracotta maquette of the Three Graces, and digitally restore a 4-metre high statue of a horse. You can find out more about these projects here.

The new volume tells the story of these artworks from their creation in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to their technological transformation today.

Purchase now.


Arte TV: Europe Time Machine, Historical Sites in Danger
Arte TV: Europe Time Machine, Historical Sites in Danger

Factum’s founder Adam Lowe was interviewed for a new mini-series by Arte TV about the Europe Time Machine (ETM), a project to use machine learning and big data technology to create a searchable, interactive archive of Europe’s heritage.

Initially focusing on six major cities (Venice, Budapest, Paris, Hamburg, Athens, Madrid), the project is creating dense archives of historical documents – letters, receipts and newspapers as well as “literary” or self-consciously “historical” texts – organised around contemporary maps rendered in 3D.

Factum Foundation works with DHLAB-École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, one of the driving forces behind the ETM, on the initiative ARCHiVe. Located at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, ARCHiVe works on innovative ways of recording, processing, displaying, and storing data related to cultural heritage.

Watch the episode.

Learn more about ARCHiVe.


Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

A new film and website have been created as part of the ongoing campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Gavin Kingcome’s short film contains interviews with different people affected by the decision to close the foundry, from current bell-ringers to representatives of the East London Mosque, the foundry’s nearest neighbour, who were never consulted by the property developer about plans to convert the foundry into a boutique hotel.

The new website, www.savethewhitechapelbellfoundry.com, explains why the development proposal should be rejected and provides details of how to object. You can find latest campaign news, as well as further advice on letters of objection, on the Spitalfields Life blog here.

Factum Foundation remains committed to the campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. In June last year, in collaboration with the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, the Foundation put forward a proposal to reinvent the foundry for the future, explaining how an undated foundry will be able to integrate the latest digital recording, processing, and outputting technologies to create bells for the modern world.


Developing new technologies for 3D scanning
Developing new technologies for 3D scanning

Factum Foundation is constantly looking for new ways to record accurate information of the surface of paintings. Currently in development is the photometric scanner, a fast, portable system that will be capable of recording high-resolution 3D surface texture for both visualisation and re-materialisation.

The scanning system will be based on the techniques known as photometric stereo. It uses computational methods to extract detailed information about the surface of an object using 2D images taken under specific lighting arrangements. Factum’s scanning system will integrate data from other 3D recording techniques with photometric-stereo-derived depth maps to produce 3D data with a closer correspondence to the original surface than currently captured by the Lucida 3D Scanner, designed by Manuel Franquelo with the team from Factum.

The research is being developed by Jorge Cano and Enrique Esteban and Abhijit Dhanda from the Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS) at Carleton University, Canada. Adam Weigert from CIMS has also made significant contributions to the development.


Digitisation workshop with students from ISIA Urbino
Digitisation workshop with students from ISIA Urbino

Carlos Bayod, Guendalina Damone and Otto Lowe from Factum Foundation's 3D scanning department organised and taught a five-day workshop focussing on non-contact recording technologies for cultural heritage to ten students from the Photography MA course from the design university ISIA Urbino.

The theory classes took place at ARCHiVe's studios at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, but the students were also able to take part in fieldwork recording projects at various institutions around Venice. The valuable data they scanned will be processed and shared in coming weeks, but will also find a permanent home in ARCHiVe's digital storage facilites and maye give rise to larger projects for the Centre. Learn more.


A late-15th-century altarpiece by the Maestro de Perea
A late-15th-century altarpiece by the Maestro de Perea

Factum Foundation is collaborating with Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli on a new digital preservation project involving the surface and colour recording of a late-15th-century altarpiece known as the Retablo del Maestro de Perea. The recording was carried out with the aim of creating a database of the current state of conservation of the altarpiece, whose 14 panels have recently been restored by the Fundación, and will permit close study, wider dissemination, and possible reproduction as a conservation facsimile. The project follows previous collaborations with the Fundación Medinaceli involving the recording of the Sepulchre of Cardinal Tavera and architectural elements in Casa de Pilatos; a further exciting new collaboration will be announced soon.


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