The 500-year-old Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Britain’s oldest manufacturing company where the Liberty Bell and Big Ben bell were cast, is up for sale. As announced on Spitalfields Life on October 5th, the American developers who had bought the purpose-built bell foundry to turn it into a boutique hotel are now trying to sell the building in Whitechapel as a gallery space with luxury catering. It is a great tragedy to see traditional, living craftsmanship and a Grade II listed building being destroyed at the behest of a commercial property sale.
Traditional bell-making is flagship example of the incredible living cultural heritage that beats at the heart the UK. Factum Foundation and Re:Form have evidenced that this living craft has a function in the modern era by creating the London Bell Foundry and successfully making bells with world-renowned contemporary artists such as Grayson Perry, Paula Crown and Conrad Shawcross. As well as a commissioned bell project with an artist in Mexico that will result in two large bells. With discussions of a new bell for a public monument in Buenos Aires. This confirms the irrational and nonsensical nature of this sale. Will sensible decisions be made on the grounds that the Whitechapel Bell Foundry’s optimum value lies in the fact that it is a bell foundry?
On September 24th 2022, ‘FAREWELL TO THE HOPPERS’ was the first event of AaltoSiilo project produced by Factum Foundation as part of Oulu2026 culture programme.
The main show was offered by Finnish percussion group Transistori, who performed inside the iconic building by playing two industrial metal hoppers formerly used during the cellulose-making process. The group used the hoppers and funnels as percussion instruments during the performance, remixing and enhancing their sound using electronic beats, synthesizers and drum machines. The interior of the Silo acted as a resonating chamber, transforming the building into an urban-sized musical instrument.
Local DJs (Crash Doom, Miha, Otilia) and audiovisual artists (Ohmudog) also performed on the grounds surrounding the Silo.
'Recording Giulio Romano: Shape and Surface' is the first workshop organised by Factum Foundation and ARCHiVe in collaboration with Fondazione Palazzo Te within the Scuola di Palazzo Te initiative. From September 12th until September 16th, the 30-hour workshop will introduce the theoretical and practical methodologies for digital recording, while carrying out a real digitisation project inside Palazzo Te in Mantua, Italy.
The workshop will focus on recording specific art and architecture elements in Palazzo Te, mainly frescoes and stucco reliefs, employing close-range photogrammetry, panoramic composite photography, Lucida 3D Scanner and LIDAR 3D scanning (for interior and exterior spaces). The students will work with Factum and ARCHiVe's experts to carry out the digitisation tasks on site, which will result in new digital recording material of Giulio Romano's architectural masterpiece that, in line with Factum Foundation's principles, will be provided to Palazzo Te to help the preservation and study of the artworks.
Some of Giulio Romano's designs for Palazzo Te's decorative elements were found within Giorgio Cini's Library at ARCHiVe, establishing a unique link between the two projects. These designs will be compared with the results of the 2D/3D scans obtained during the workshop, with the aim of establishing an objective comparison between the original idea and the current condition of the elements.
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After the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, Grayson Perry's Covid Bell was on show at the Founder's Hall of the Worshipful Company of Founders, during their annual Open House on September 10th and 11th.
The Founder's Company, with its first records documented in 1365, is one of the oldest craftsmen guilds in London and still has a very active fellowship. Today it runs three charities which have been successful in supporting a variety of people, many of whom are in the start of their career as either material scientists, or artists who work with metal.
Throughout history, bells have commemorated the dead and also celebrated the living. The Covid Bell continues and updates this tradition, also celebrating the artistic and technical skills of the metalworking industry. The bell was fabricated by Factum Arte and Factum Foundation, cast by Pangolin Foundry, Gloucestershire and tuned by Nigel Taylor working with Nicholson Engineering in Dorset, and was kindly donated by Grayson Perry to revitalise bell making in the UK following the highly publicised closure of Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
"The London Bell Foundry was formed to demonstrate that casting bells has a bright future, and Grayson’s generosity has made this possible. The next two artist bells will be made by Paula Crown and Conrad Shawcross." – Adam Lowe, Director of Factum Arte
Factum Foundation has collaborated with the Trust for African Rock Art and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments Nigeria on the exhibition ‘The Ancient Rock Art of Nigeria’ at the Nigerian National Museum in Lagos (May 5 – June 2, 2022). The display was curated by Terry Little and Ferdinand Saumarez Smith, and supported by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
Two facsimiles of Bakor monoliths, made from data recorded in 2018 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musée du Quai Branly, were featured in the exhibition and will be returned to the Bakor region in July for permanent display at a new visitor centre at Alok, supported by the Carène Foundation.
An exhibition on the Bakor monoliths launches at The British Museum on November 17, 2022.
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Following the surface, colour and infrared recording of the seven Raphael Cartoons at the V&A in 2019, Factum Foundation and Factum Arte worked on the making of the facsimile of Paul Preaching at Athens Cartoon for the exhibition 'The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Raphael' (9 April - 31 July, 2022) at the National Gallery.
As the original Cartoons are unable to travel, the recording and rematerialisation of the data is another example of how facsimile provide new ways to study, disseminate and display artworks, such as this series of preparatory cartoons made by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel tapestries, on long-term loan to the V&A by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection.
Factum Foundation is carrying out a new digitisation and training initiative focussed on the unique series of Romanesque wall paintings removed from the Church of San Juan de Ruesta (Huesca) and other churches that form part of the ‘French route’ of the Camino de Santiago. The aim of the work is to obtain high-resolution records of the current condition of the paintings (both in colour and 3D) as the base for digital restoration, and hopefully, facsimiles.
In the 20th century, the removal of paintings from churches in north-eastern Spain using the strappo technique was a normal part of their preservation. The wall paintings originally covered the apse of the Church of San Juan de Ruesta, and after their removal, the church lost its function and its meaning and fell into near-total disrepair. An extensive restoration project carried out by Sergio Sebastián Arquitectos has recreated a new space from the old ruin.
A team from Factum Foundation worked with a group of graduate students from the Universidad de Zaragoza's Máster de Gestión de Patrimonio Cultural to record the wall paintings, now within the collection of the Museo Diocesano de Jaca. As part of Factum's 'learning by doing' educational model, the students recorded in the museum and in the church, employing different recording methodologies to understand the strengths and limitations of each. They are now merging and processing the data and carrying out a digital restoration of the damaged paintings.
ARCHiOx (Analysing and Recording Cultural Heritage in Oxford) is an exciting new project partnership between the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford and the Factum Foundation, generously funded by The Helen Hamlyn Trust. The project will enable the practical transfer of knowledge and technology from the Factum Foundation to the Bodleian, including the permanent transfer of equipment and software to the Libraries.
More on the partnership
Video © University of Oxford
The Mausoleum of Ikhwat Yusuf is a Fatimid monument with later Ottoman additions located in Cairo’s Southern Cemetery at the foot of the Mokattam outcrop. The mausoleum is one of very few surviving Fatimid period (AD 969-1171) monuments in Egypt.
In March 2022, Osama Dawod and Otto Lowe arrived in Cairo and recorded the mausoleum’s stucco mihrab in high-resolution using photogrammetry. They also provided hands-on photogrammetry training at the site for inspectors from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, as part of a field training program ARCE coordinated to complement its work at the mausoleum.
ARCHiVe has completed the first high-resolution digital recording of one of the great tapestries owned by the Giorgio Cini collection: The Entry into Palestine of the Army of Vespasian. Dated between 1470 and 1480, it was recently identified as the right half of another textile work within the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon, making its recording, conservation and restoration a priority for the Fondazione Giorgio Cini.
The digital documentation of the tapestry's surface is an essential step toward understanding its material structure.
In February 2022, Factum Foundation accompanied the Trust for African Rock Art on a project to record the Dabous Giraffe, located in the Aïr mountains in the north-east of Niger.
The remarkable engraved panel contains lifelike depictions of a larger and a smaller giraffe, with the former measuring 5.4m, as well as a small human figure. It was recorded using drone-based and close-range photogrammetry.
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Factum Arte and Factum Foundation have worked with Fondazione Palazzo Te to recreate the atmosphere that once welcomed the guests of the Gonzaga family for the visitors of the exhibition Le pareti delle meraviglie (26 March - 26 June, 2022).
After recording a 17th-century Leather wallpaper with flower vases inside the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in January 2022, different sets of data were processed merged in Factum's headquarters. The modular nature of the corame allowed Factum to make a recreation fitted to the spaces of the Camera dei Venti.
Daniele da Volterra, a close collaborator and friend of Michelangelo, inherited the house of the artist in Rome after his death. In two years, he produced a number of bronze casts of the Renaissance master, which are often thought to have derived from Michelangelo’s deathmask.
The exhibition 'The Bronze Effigy of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra' (15 February - 31 July, 2022), curated by Cecilie Hollberg at the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Florence, reunites for the first time nine bronze busts from various collections around the world. Direct comparison has revealed both similarities and differences, and much debate still surrounds the 'genealogy' between the different casts.
Each of the busts was recorded by Factum Foundation’s experts using a structured white light scanner and photogrammetry, and during several months of work in the studios of Factum Foundation in Madrid, the busts were digitally "mapped" in their key points and correspondences, overlaid and compared in a unique research work.
The data was rematerialised as 3D-printed busts, which are on display next to their digital form and the original busts.
It is hoped that the exhibition will focus the debate and produce some informed responses.