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Adam Dant's <i>The Bells of Whitechapel</i>
Adam Dant's The Bells of Whitechapel

“My print shows the historic significance of Britain’s oldest manufacturing business, across the globe and as a part of the deep fabric of London’s culture and community.

From St Mary le Bow, Cheapside, whose peal famously bestows the status of ‘cockney’ and was broadcast across occupied Europe as a clarion of freedom and liberty during the war, the bells of the City churches ring out. Stories of famous bells, such as the Liberty Bell, are detailed around the border which is decorated with a bellringing diagram.

Beyond Big Ben and Great Tom, a map of the globe is dotted with locations of a few of the countless bells the Whitechapel Foundry has cast. Its history spans the reigns of twenty-seven monarchs. Elizabeth II is depicted on her 2009 visit to this celebrated Whitechapel institution, in existence since the reign of Elizabeth I.

‘Oranges & Lemons’ has been updated to sing out the threat to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, being ignominiously transformed into a boutique hotel with bell casting reduced to the production of souvenir handbells in the lobby espresso bar.”

— Adam Dant

Bryars and Bryars, an antiquarian bookshop in Cecil Court, London, presents a bell-themed window built around Adam Dant's print 'The Bells of Whitechapel' and the Pangolin Editions cast from the 3D scan of a 1722 Spanish bell. Adam Dant's print can be purchased at Tag Fine Arts and makes a beautiful Christmas present, with 50% of the profits going to pay the costs of the public inquiry into the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.


Launching AALTOSIILO
Launching AALTOSIILO

After a trip to Finland last week, we are delighted to announce that Factum Foundation has acquired Alvar Aalto’s first industrial building, a cellulose silo in Oulu, northern Finland, about 3 hours drive south of the Arctic Circle.

Working with the award-winning practice Skene Catling de la Peña, the intention is to use research and technology to restore and reveal Aalto’s building, a powerful, cathedral-like concrete structure which was once used for storing wood chips - it will now become a store for knowledge.

The goal is to establish a Nordic network of collaborators across Finland, Sweden and Norway, including those with many years of experience documenting industrial heritage and its environmental impact in the north and arctic circle. Factum is now in contact with potential partners such as the Aalto University, the University of Oulu, the University of Applied Sciences Oulu and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), as well as a network of other partners with diverse skills and interests. The AALTOSIILO will share and develop digital recording and output skills in the Nordic region.

The fundraising is ongoing to support the restoration of this great building, empower the local community and open up the AALTOSIILO to an international audience dedicated to recording and revealing industrial architecture and the changing environment of the region. The renovation work is scheduled to start in Spring 2021.

More on the project


'New Perspectives on Raphael' - online panel by the Warburg Institute

On 19th November, Michelle O’Malley from the Warburg Institute talked with Ana Debenedetti and Adam Lowe about the recording of Raphael’s Cartoons at the V&A in August 2019.

While the discussion focussed on Raphael, it also looked more generally at the role of digital recording in light of the museum closures and the restrictions caused by COVID-19. High-resolution recording, display and rematerialisation technologies have serious implications for the study, display and dissemination of works of art - both online and offline access will be increasingly important in providing access to culture.

The discussion is available at this link.


The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative 2020 report
The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative 2020 report

A new report on the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative is now freely available.

The Coronavirus pandemic has restricted work in Luxor since April, but in line with Egyptian regulations, a reduced workforce was able to return to the tomb of Seti I in July and TNPI was the first team to resume work in the Valley of the Kings.

2020 has seen a new global recognition of the importance of digital recording for documenting, disseminating and displaying cultural heritage. The crisis has also underlined the importance of the high-resolution 3D and colour recording that is being carried out by the TNPI. It suddenly became clear that heritage managers and organisations were lacking the digital assets required for a meaningful online presence. With international travel severely restricted for the foreseeable future, there is a pressing need for high-resolution data which is accessible in innovative forms and which can be used by many different audiences, from specialised scholars to the curious looking for something interesting to attract their attention.

The launch of the 3D model of the Tomb of Seti I was one of the important events during COVID. It is the start of something very important which we hope to unveil soon. The virtual tour is the result of countless hours of work and brings together a complete LiDAR model of the tomb interior with the high-resolution recordings in colour and 3D of both the walls of the tomb and fragments removed at different times. There is a visceral and functional difference between this form of high-resolution 3D display and those recorded at lower resolution which are more commonly found online but are seldom satisfying, engaging or meaningful.

More on TNPI


Recording the back of the <i>Heart-shaped map of Hajji Ahmed</i>
Recording the back of the Heart-shaped map of Hajji Ahmed

In 2019, the Biblioteca Marciana started a project focussing on a new philological edition of the heart-shaped map of Hajji Ahmed (also known as Mappa Turchesca). The original cherry-wood printing blocks were recorded in high resolution in February, in an initiative led by ARCHiVe in collaboration with IUAV CIRCE Photogrammetry Lab, and made possible through a memorandum of understanding between IUAV University and the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. Following the recording, the scanned data was CNC-milled to produce new printing blocks; from these, a copy of the map has been made. This is currently on show at Palazzo Fava, in Bologna.

Thanks to the data acquired with the Lucida 3D Scanner, a digital restoration of the map is now possible: the blocks which make up the matrix of the Ottoman-Venetian map have deteriorated considerably since they were first made and the digital restoration of missing parts - perhaps with multiple possible restorations for each part - will lead to a more complete 3D model. This will help conservators to identify the most appropriate actions to take in order to conserve the original object. Factum Foundation is now working in collaboration with the Biblioteca Marciana and the IUAV University to produce a facsimile of the digitally restored map.

A new recording of the printing blocks was carried out on 4, 5 and 6 November using the Lucida 3D Scanner, focussing especially on the back of the wooden panels.


Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and Public Inquiry: closing statement
Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and Public Inquiry: closing statement

The Public Inquiry to decide the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which started on 6 October, has now finished. Paul Griffiths, the Inspector, expects to put his completed report to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government in early December. Please click here to access our closing statement, on behalf of Rupert Warren QC and Matthew Dale-Harris.

We wish to thank all 27,000 people who signed the petition, our supporters at the East London Mosque, the readers of the Spitalfield’s Life blog, and all those who have worked with us to reach this critical stage of our campaign to preserve and revitalise Britain’s oldest single-purpose industrial building. Factum Foundation and Re-Form Heritage are looking forward to the decision that will be made by the Secretary of State.

On the Whitechapel Bell Foundry project

For updates, follow us on Twitter @SaveTheWBF


Bakor Monoliths Project: recent updates

Since June 2019, Factum Foundation and the British Museum have been working together to host an exhibition centered on the Bakor Monoliths Project, which was due to open on November 14th 2020 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transport of Ownership of Cultural Property ratified on November 14th. Due to COVID-19, the exhibition has been postponed but plans are still progressing for the show to open at the British Museum, before touring to the recording sites in Nigeria and finally being installed in Alok as a permanent display - thanks to the generous grant of the Carène Foundation.

A recent operation by the United States Customs, which intercepted a cargo of illegally-trafficked Cross River monoliths at Miami Airport, shows how pressing the matter is in the current times.


Recording Velázquez at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Orléans
Recording Velázquez at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Orléans

On October 19th a team from Factum Foundation carried out the high-resolution recording in 3D and colour of Velázquez’ Saint Thomas at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Orléans. St. Thomas, painted around 1618-1620 and part of Velázquez’ early works, was documented using panoramic composite photography and the Lucida 3D Scanner. The data gathered during this recording will be handed over to the Musée des Beaux-Arts and will be used to create an exact facsimile for the Casa Natal de Velázquez, due to open its doors in 2021 in Seville. Previously this year, three other paintings from the Spanish master’s early years were recorded in the National Galleries of Scotland (An Old Woman Cooking Eggs, 1618) and in the Wellington Collection at Apsley House (The Waterseller of Seville, 1618-1622 and Two Young Men Eating at a Humble Table, 1622), in collaboration with Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica.

More on Casa Natal de Velázquez


Recording El Greco's <i>Annunciation</i> with Fundación Banco Santander
Recording El Greco's Annunciation with Fundación Banco Santander

Factum Foundation is delighted to collaborate with Fundación Banco Santander for the high-resolution recording in 3D and colour of El Greco’s Annunciation, from the collection of Banco Santander. The painting, one of El Greco’s final works and intended for the right side altar of the church in Tavera Hospital, was recorded using the Lucida 3D Scanner and panoramic composite photography. The data will be essential for documentation and analysis purposes and will be used to create an exact facsimile of the painting.


A year later: the donation of the facsimiles of two Lamassu from the north-west palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud to the University of Mosul

On 24th October 2019, exact facsimiles of two lamassu statues (Assyrian protective deities in the form of human-headed winged lions) were 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.

More about the project


Royal Commission for AlUla and Factum Foundation to partner up on the recording of the largest archaeological site in Saudi Arabia
Royal Commission for AlUla and Factum Foundation to partner up on the recording of the largest archaeological site in Saudi Arabia

On 21st September 2020, Otto Lowe and Pedro Miró from Factum Foundation arrived in AlUla to start the largest high-resolution 3D recording project to be undertaken in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The work, commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), is planned to last for more than a year and will result in the production of a high-resolution 3D model of the Nabatean archaeological site of Hegra (also known as Mada’in Salih or Al-Ḥijr) as well as Dadan, Jabal Ikmah and Abu Ud.

The data from the recording of the historic landscape at AlUla (Hegra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), will be processed by Factum’s experts and will be handed over to the Royal Commission for AlUla. The RCU will own the data for all current and future applications. Extensive work is currently underway to find an aesthetically beautiful way to view the data so it can dynamically respond in real time.

This information will be critical for the preservation of this extraordinary site as it becomes the focus of the country's drive to attract cultural tourism. High-resolution recording will not only help attract visitors but it will be essential to record a site that has been overlooked for many years. Condition monitoring and conservation mapping will provide a detailed framework for the archaeologists working on the site.

Factum Foundation is delighted to collaborate with the Royal Commission for AlUla on this ambitious project to preserve the heritage landmarks and cultural legacy of the Nabateans in and around the AlUla oasis.

More on the project


Factum Foundation and Hirayama Studio at the British Museum
Factum Foundation and Hirayama Studio at the British Museum

In July 2019, Factum Foundation was invited to carry out two recordings at the British Museum’s Hirayama Studio – a specialist studio for the conservation of East Asian paintings, employing traditional East Asian scroll-mounting techniques combined with digital technology and contemporary approaches to cultural heritage conservation.

The Hirayama Studio were particularly interested in using 3D scanning to investigate the cut-gold leaf, or kirikane, used to decorate the figures’ garments on Amida sanson raigo zu, an exquisite 14th century Japanese scroll-painting. The Lucida 3D Scanner was able to record the reflective surface of the reflective surface, allowing conservators to see subtle relief patterns in detail.

A second object was also recorded: two panels from a 19th century Korean screen of pyeongsaeng-do (scenes of daily life) depicting successful stations in a man's life. The screen is of particular interest to conservators because it retained its original cotton mount. High-resolution 3D and colour data provided by Factum will serve above all as a precise record of the screen’s condition before conservation, but the recording and associated digital high-resolution viewer will be equally useful for the study of this unique painting in its original mount.

More on the project


CALL TO ACTION | Public inquiry on 6th October 2020 (online event)
CALL TO ACTION | Public inquiry on 6th October 2020 (online event)

On the 6 October 2020 a planning inquiry commenced regarding the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, 32-34 Whitechapel Road, 2 Fieldgate Street and land to the rear (planning application reference numbers PA/19/00008 and PA/19/00009).

Your support and online presence are more than ever needed: this is the chance to make your voice heard and prevent the Whitechapel Bell Foundry from becoming a boutique-hotel, based on the model of Soho House.

We are live-tweeting the Public Inquiry. On inquiry sitting days (6-9 October, 13-16 October and 27-28 October) you will be able to follow the proceedings here: Join Microsoft Teams meeting

If you want to get in touch with the inspectorate with further questions, to make a written statement or ask to speak on the 27 October – when the public inquiry is open to third parties to contribute – please contact the Government’s Planning Inspectorate at Elizabeth.Humphrey@planninginspectorate.gov.uk

> More information on the Public Inquiry <

For media enquiries, please email info@factumfoundation.org and your email will be forwarded to Re-Form's communications partner.

More on the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Read this article in The Guardian.

Read Brian Swager's article on The Diapason


Caravaggio's <i>Burial of Saint Lucy</i>
Caravaggio's Burial of Saint Lucy

Factum Foundation is honoured to have carried out the recording of Caravaggio’s Burial of St. Lucy in the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia, Syracuse, between 24th and 30th June 2020. The equipment was then shipped to Seville for a major project related to the Spanish Golden Age.

An exact facsimile was created by Factum Arte for the exhibition 'Caravaggio. Il Contemporaneo - In dialogo con Burri and Pasolini' at Mart Rovereto (October 9th 2020 - February 14th 2021), where the original is now on display among a selection of contemporary works and photographs, encouraging new conversations and emphasising Caravaggio's spiritual relevance. The original will go back to the church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, in Syracuse, at the beginning of December and the facsimile will take its place in the exhibition.

More on the project


The high-resolution recording of the Raphael Cartoons
The high-resolution recording of the Raphael Cartoons

Factum Foundation for the V&A and Royal Collection Trust

In August 2019, a team of 3D-scanning and photography specialists from Factum Foundation carried out the recording of the Raphael Cartoons at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The seven Cartoons, lent to the V&A from the Royal Collection by Her Majesty The Queen, were recorded at high resolution in 3D, colour and infrared: this digitisation project is by far one of Factum Foundation’s most ambitious to date.

Over the course of several months, the digital information captured on-site was processed in the Foundation’s studio in Madrid to create a multi-layered browser of the painting: this online tool enables the visualisation of the 3D scanned surface, as well as the colour and infra-red data. Through this online platform, it is possible to move around the scanned surfaces and zoom in at macro-level photographic data with a resolution of 400 dpi on a scale of 1:1, from any computer or mobile screen. The tool developed by Factum after years of testing and improvement allows everyone, from museum conservators to the general public, to study in great detail the materiality of the recorded artworks.

More on the project

Important: the re-opening of the Raphael Court has been postponed until further notice. We will keep you updated on any further announcements from the V&A.


The Materiality of the Aura. New Technologies for Preservation: exhibition walk-through with Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe, founder of Factum Foundation, guides you through The Materiality of the Aura. New Technologies for Preservation, at Palazzo Fava, Bologna until 10th January 2021.

Facsimiles of sculptures, paintings and books, digital restorations and physical recreations, 3D renders, 3D models and a variety of objects are presented in the six rooms of the exhibition, focussing on: the surface of paintings, sculptures, cartography, video-mapping and projections, manuscripts and, finally, Factum Foundation's work in the Valley of the Kings. The city of Bologna, where the Foundation has been involved in projects since 2010, is also a unifying factor tying together many of the rooms.

Watch on Vimeo


Recording two more paintings by Velázquez
Recording two more paintings by Velázquez

On August 17-18th a team from Factum Foundation worked in London's Apsley House to record two paintings by Velázquez: The Waterseller of Seville and Two Young Men Eating at a Humble Table. The work was carried out using panoramic composite photography and the Lucida 3D Scanner to document the originals' colour and surface texture in high-resolution. The recording of the two paintings at the Wellington Collection was made possible by the generosity of the Duke of Wellington and English Heritage, particularly the Keeper of the Wellington Collection and their Paintings Conservators who care for the paintings.

The facsimiles will be produced in Factum Arte's studios in Madrid in the next weeks while the data will be given to Apsley House to help draw attention to the remarkable collection of paintings and assist in the preservation and study of these two works.

More on the recording
More on the Casa Natal de Velázquez


<i>Al-Qatt al-Asiri Pattern Book. An introduction to traditional painting from Asir</i>
Al-Qatt al-Asiri Pattern Book. An introduction to traditional painting from Asir

Al-Qatt al-Asiri Pattern Book is a folio format publication produced in collaboration with Art Jameel, that has been designed as a teaching aid for the the women of Asir. The aim is to revive an art form that has been designated as 'intangible cultural heritage’ by UNESCO. These colourful geometric patterns have decorated the interior of the domestic buildings of the region for many years but are disappearing.

The book, designed by Factum, is printed and bound by Book Works in London. Copies will soon be made available to the public, pre-order yours by writing to: info@factumfoundation.org

More on recording Al-Qatt art


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