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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 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’.

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 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).

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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,, 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.

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.

A 3D scan of Fra Angelico's Annunciation

Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation (1425-26) depicts on the one hand the Archangel Gabriel's Annunciation to the Virgin and on the other the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. In the past year, the Annunciation has undergone a complex process of cleaning and conservation.

Factum Foundation contributed to the documentation effort by carrying out a high-resolution 3D recording of the painting following the restoration, which is of particular interest in this case due to the superb surface work executed by the artist. Learn more.

Open call for the new edition of Bando Lucida 2019
Open call for the new edition of Bando Lucida 2019

Last year, Factum Foundation co-hosted the Open Care conference alongside the Italian art restoration experts at their Milanese laboratory, marking the second edition of the Bando Lucida initiative. This scheme aimed to return a deteriorated work of art to public use through supporting its restoration as assisted by Factum’s Lucida 3D Scanner, with the selection of the endangered piece carried out by an independent specialist committee.

The call for projects is now open for the 2019 edition of Bando Lucida. You can download the full text here.

The previous winner, the Angelo Annunciante by Gaudenzio Ferrari, was presented in its restored state at a conference on the 29th January 2019. This restoration process that took place at Open Care was explored alongside a series of talks, including one by Guendalina Damone from Factum’s Lucida Lab Milano.

© Open Care - Servizi per l'Arte

<i>Madame de Pompadour in the Frame</i>: An exhibition at Waddesdon Manor
Madame de Pompadour in the Frame: An exhibition at Waddesdon Manor

Factum Foundation is delighted to be collaborating with the Rothschild Foundation at Waddesdon Manor on an exhibition exploring the new perspectives which facsimiles can provide on existing works of art.

The exhibition centres around two facsimiles produced by Factum of works depicting Madame de Pompadour, the erudite and powerful mistress of Louis XV, by François Boucher; one being his monumental famous 1756 portrait, now displayed at Alte Pinakothek in Munich, and the other a small oil sketch held at Waddesdon. A combination of the Lucida 3D scanner and panoramic photography were utilised to record both the fine surface relief and colour of the canvas.

The facsimiles are presented at Waddesdon in an exhibition, organised by Factum Foundation and Waddesdon Manor and designed by Skene Catling de la Peña. Running from May 23 to October 27 2019, this allows visitors to examine the facsimiles and explore the process of making them; they are accompanied by objects and images relating to the paintings from Waddesdon’s superlative 18th century collections.

Further information on both the facsimiles and the exhibition can be found here.

Recording “The Circle” Stradivari with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner
Recording “The Circle” Stradivari with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner

Factum Foundation is collaborating with luthiers Julia Sarano and Robert Brewer Young on a pilot project to create a unique 3D study of a rare violin, with a precision measured in microns, as part of a multi-layered instrument archive. “The Circle” Stradivari, named for the partial circle inscribed on the back by the maker, is a celebrated instrument that dates from 1701 at the outset of Antonio Stradivari’s ‘golden period’. The instrument is generously on loan for this study from London violin dealers J&A Beare. Data recorded with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner, will be used to scale a high-resolution photogrammetry model of the instrument. This can provide unique information for conservators, experts, collectors, scholars and makers.

Sarano and Young are working to build up a comprehensive catalogue of information on fine violins and other stringed instruments. This study will serve as an extension of the historic W. E. Hill & Sons archive.

Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

We need your help!

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry was the oldest continuous manufacturing business in Great Britain until its closure in 2017, a history of traditional bell casting that stretched back almost 450 years to 1570, counting Big Ben and the Liberty Bell amongst its extraordinary legacy.

Sold to Raycliff Capital due to financial pressure in an industry on the decline in the modern age, the US property developers have submitted plans to turn the historic foundry into a ‘bell-themed boutique hotel’; a complete disregard for the rich heritage of one of the UK’s finest cultural and historical assets, and for its rightful function as a bell foundry. More details on this shameful proposal can be found here.

Factum Foundation have partnered with the United Kingdom Historic Preservation Trust on a plan to re-open the foundry, re-equipped for the production of bells and art casting once again, which can be read in full here. You can help save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry by taking a moment to submit an objection to the boutique hotel proposal to the Tower Hamlets council. Information on how to do so can be found here.

Digital and physical reconstruction of the vandalised sacred cave of Kamukuwaká
Digital and physical reconstruction of the vandalised sacred cave of Kamukuwaká

The cave of Kamukuwaká, an important sacred petroglyph site representing the cosmogony of the inhabitants of Upper-Xingu (Mato Grosso, Brasil) and registered national monument was intentionally destroyed in 2018. Culture is under threat and digitisation of Cultural Heritage is the most effective way to monitor its condition.

The data captured from this trip was combined with photographic documentation dating from before the attack to produce an entire 3D recreation of the cave. The Wauja have been working with the team in Factum to ensure the digital recreation is perfect and that the petroglyphs are correct. The digital restoration is now complete and the data was materialised through a 3 axis CNC machine milling directly onto medium density polyurethane at a resolution of 200 microns. The high-resolution details from the digital restoration are being integrated manually onto the surface, before the application of an acrylic resin.

All resources are now being focused on the physical reconstruction of the cave that will be sent to Brazil upon completion.

Learn more.

Short video.

Training at Stoppelaëre House
Training at Stoppelaëre House

Since February 2019, the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative's training programme is ongoing at Stoppelaëre House, at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. Entirely funded by the Factum Foundation thanks to generous donations, this landmark building was fully restored by the Tarek Waly Centre for Architecture and Heritage, in collaboration with Factum.

In February 2017, Stoppelaëre House was formally opened by Khaled El Enany, the Minister of Antiquities and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. Stoppelaëre House is at the core of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative. The inauguration brought attention to TNPI as a real innovator in the field of heritage management and sustainable tourism.

The 3D Scanning, Training and Archiving Centre is being run by Aliaa Ismail. Aliaa and the first two fully trained operators, Abdel Raheem Ghaba and Mahmoud Salem have started the training of Amany Hassan Mohamed Ahmed and Mahmoud Abdellah Mohamed Ammar, selected from 26 applicants proposed by the Ministry of Antiquities.

The training will be carried out throughout a period of six months and will ensure the transfer of the skills necessary for digital preservation, such as high-resolution 3D scanning, close-range photogrammetry, composite colour photography, data processing and archiving.

The development of local skills and economy is vital for the recording and preservation of cultural heritage. Factum Foundation needs financial support to fulfill its mission to safeguard the tombs of the Theban Necropolis through the application of new digital technologies, and the creation of exact facsimiles of tombs that are now either closed to the public for conservation or in need of closure to preserve them for future generations.

Parmigianino’s 'Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror'
Parmigianino’s 'Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror'

Factum Foundation was asked to create a facsimile of this work for MUMOK's exhibition ‘Vertigo. Op Art and a History of Deception 1520 –1970’ (25 May - 26 October 2019); this will explore the Op-Art movement of the 1960s and its roots in historical artistic movements that have contemplated the nature of perception and illusion, such as Mannerism. Parmigianino's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror belongs to the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna and is on display in its Picture Gallery.

The painting plays cleverly with a convex mirror’s ability to offer a distorted representation of the person who looks into it. Parmigianino’s elaborate illusion, however, significantly complicated the rematerialisation process. This is because it is impossible to print colour directly onto a convex surface. Instead, Factum’s innovative print studio worked with a flexible adhesive ‘skin’ that was moulded to take on the shape and subtle texture of a high-resolution 3D print of the surface made by Océ - A Canon Company.

Find out more about the recording and complex reproduction process.

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