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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.


Recording the Tomb of Raphael at the Pantheon in Rome
Recording the Tomb of Raphael at the Pantheon in Rome

More news about this collaboration with Scuderie del Quirinale - Ales will be released soon but we can say that it is part of the celebrations that will surround the 500th Anniversary of Raphael's death next year. We will keep you updated.

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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.


Facsimiles of two Lamassu from the north-west palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud have been donated to the University of Mosul by Factum Foundation and the British Museum
Facsimiles of two Lamassu from the north-west palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud have been donated to the University of Mosul by Factum Foundation and the British Museum

On 24th October, exact facsimiles of two lamassu statues (Assyrian protective deities in the form of human-headed winged lions) have been presented at the University of Mosul by Factum Foundation and the British Museum, with the logistical support of the Spanish Ministry of Defense, the Iraqi Government and the financial support of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. The project was managed by Ali Aljuboori, the director of the centre for Assyrian studies at the University of Mosul.

In 2004, Factum Arte (before the formation of Factum Foundation in 2009) recorded the original statues at the British Museum. They were taken to London in 1848/1849 by Sir Austin Henry Layard. They are guardians that ensured no evil presence entered the building and were placed at places of significance. The entrance to the main University building is in front of the University’s Central Library where over one million books and manuscripts were burnt in 2017.

All parties hope that the installation of the facsimiles of the two lamassu in the University of Mosul will be seen as a new approach to sharing cultural heritage that has been made possible by Factum’s mix of technology and craftsmanship. A sign of hope that will be followed by a significant transfer of skills and technology that has been agreed between Ali Aljuboori and Adam Lowe, the founder of Factum Foundation. The training initiative has also received the support of Dr. Adel Mustafa Kamel, the ambassador for the Republic of Iraq in Madrid and Juan José Escobar Stemmann, the Spanish ambassador in Iraq and other important figures working on the preservation of Iraq’s heritage. High-resolution recording in 3D and colour, the production of exact facsimiles and digital restorations can never replace the Assyrian carvings that were destroyed in Nimrud and at the Museum in Mosul but they can play an important role in keeping their memory alive and in sharing their cultural and political significance.


The Xingu Sacred Cave of Kamukuwaká <br> An emergency forum on indigenous cultural heritage in the Brazilian Amazon
The Xingu Sacred Cave of Kamukuwaká
An emergency forum on indigenous cultural heritage in the Brazilian Amazon

On the 18th and 19th of October 2019, Factum Foundation hosted an event at its workshops in Madrid to launch the facsimile of the restored sacred cave of Kamukuwaká, located just outside the Xingu Indigenous Territory, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Representatives from the Wauja people, the singer Akari Waurá and his son Yanumakakuma, the Kuikuro, the filmmaker Takuma Kuikuro, and from the Krenak of Minas Gerais, the activist and spiritual healer, Shirley Krenak, as well as the non-indigenous archaeologist Mafalda Ramos, travelled to Madrid to tell the story of the cave and its contemporary significance at a time of unprecedented threats to indigenous populations and land.

The event was a celebration of the collaborative endeavour that brought about the facsimile of the cave, an opportunity to explore what it represents for the culture and traditions of Xingu - brought to life by Akari's songs relating to the cave and his recounting of its myths - and a moment to reflect on the next stages of the project. This latter aspect took place over the course of a day of discussions held between the main participants of the project and a public audience. Two themes emerged through the stimulating debates: first, the need to ensure that the facsimile, with its potent message about the role of indigenous communities in protecting the environment, reaches an international audience; second, that it reaches its final destination of Xingu, for it to continue its role of transmitting ancestral knowledge to future generations.

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.


Columbia University graduate fieldwork in Venice
Columbia University graduate fieldwork in Venice

Graduate students from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) spent the week of 7th-11th October recording elements of the Prioral Palace and Church of the Order of Malta in Venice and processing the resulting data at the ARCHiVe headquarters on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

The fieldwork forms part of the Advanced Preservation Technology Studio, an annual course taught by Carlos Bayod and Adam Lowe at GSAPP, with the participation of other Factum Foundation experts during the onsite element of the teaching. Previous cohorts have recorded at San Marco in Venice, the Casa de Pilatos in Seville, and the chapel of San Baudelio in Soria in northeast Spain. This year, the students benefitted for the first time from the unique teaching and processing facilities available at the ARCHiVe offices.

The 10 course participants, together with two Factum interns, used the Lucida 3D scanner, photogrammetry, panoramic composite photography and LiDAR scanners to document a series of artworks and architectural elements on site. Thanks to extraordinary team work, over just a few days they were able to digitize, among other artefacts, an altarpiece by Bartolomeo Bergamasco (previously located in the church of San Gimignano in St. Mark's square), a series of tombstones in a state of rapid deterioration, a set of 14th-century frescoes, and the painting of the Baptism of Christ by Giovanni Bellini. The frescoes will be the object of virtual restoration in the second half of the course. In collaboration with IUAV's Photogrammetry Lab, the main spaces in the complex were also recorded in 3D.

The project demonstrates the focused collaboration among multi-disciplinary teams which is necessary for the high-resolution recording, preservation, study, and presentation of historical sites.

More information will follow soon.


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


Next year at the British Museum: new exhibition on the Bakor Monoliths
Next year at the British Museum: new exhibition on the Bakor Monoliths

Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary in November 2020 of the ‘UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property’, Factum Foundation is collaborating on an exhibition at the British Museum focused around the Bakor monoliths, also known as the ‘Cross River’ or ‘Ikom’ monoliths.

One of the most unique expressions of African art, the Bakor monoliths and their sites have suffered deeply through fire, theft and neglect in the decades since the Biafran Civil War of the late 1960s, which engulfed the region in which they are found in eastern Nigeria. Since 2016, Factum Foundation has collaborated with the Trust for African Rock Art and the University of Calabar to document and preserve the monoliths on-site and in international collections using cutting-edge 3D scanning technologies. The exhibition will feature the results of this collective endeavour, including 1:1 facsimiles of monoliths that were removed from the country and other documentary materials.

Following the conclusion of the exhibition at the British Museum, it will travel to be displayed within Nigeria, finally returning to the Bakor region where it will promote the ongoing conservation of the monoliths and their sites in a permanent display.”

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.


New collaborations focusing on the Spanish Golden Age
New collaborations focusing on the Spanish Golden Age

Spanish painting, the original reason that Factum was established in Madrid, is the focus of a great deal of our attention.

Following successful collaborations with Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, the Hospital de la Caridad, the Museo del Prado and other institutions, Factum is now working with both The Auckland Project (the Spanish Gallery and the Zurbarán Centre which is part of Durham University) and with Casa Natal de Velázquez in Sevilla.

Both of these initiatives will result in high-resolution recording, digital restorations, installations and facsimiles in northern England and Sevilla.

More news on these exciting projects will follow soon.


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.


The recording of Raphael’s Cartoons at the V&A
The recording of Raphael’s Cartoons at the V&A

In August 2019, a team of 3D recording and high-resolution panoramic photography specialists from Factum Foundation carried out the recording of the Raphael Cartoons at the V&A, which have been loaned by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection. This project was one of Factum Foundation’s most ambitious digitisation works undertaken to date.

Over a period of five weeks, three teams worked around the clock to digitise the 115 sqm of the Cartoons' surface, recording the Cartoons in colour, infra-red and 3D at a resolution of up to 10,000 points/cm2. On any one day in August, up to four Lucida 3D scanners were to be found at work in the galleries, poised on scaffolding three metres above the ground, and by night the space was lit up by the flash of hundreds of photographs. It was a project which required meticulous planning and recording innovations to suit the specific requirements of the artworks, as well as close coordination with the teams from the V&A, Royal Collection Trust and Momart.

Over the coming months, the data will be processed in Factum Foundation's Madrid workshops: hundreds of overlapping 3D scans will be stitched together, and the datasets for colour and 3D will be merged to produce multi-layer records of the seven Cartoons.

The results will set new standards for cultural heritage documentation, allowing these masterpieces of Renaissance art to be seen up close as never before.


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


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