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.
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.
On December 10th two 6kg bells were cast at UCL’s Here East facility by Peter Scully, technical director at the Bartlett, and a team of four students. The event employed the ceramic shell investment process, one of the methods which would be used by a restored church bell foundry at Whitechapel, and demonstrated that the casting of bells in London is safe, practical, and environmentally viable.
In an introductory talk, Scully spoke about the lack of meaningful apprenticeships available in the creative industries, and emphasised the importance of universities like UCL retaining creative and industrial links to local communities at a time when many facilities like this one are moving out of central London. He also assuaged fears about the possible environmental impact of a foundry in Whitechapel: the filtered air which emerges following a casting process like this one is far cleaner than that of its surrounding environment.
In a separate event on December 17th, independent mayoral candidate Rory Stewart affirmed his support for the campaign to save the bell foundry. Stewart’s support is part of a wider swell of interest in the foundry at the highest political level and from both left and right, demonstrating its importance to Londoners of all political stripes.
To find out more about the ongoing campaign to save the church bell foundry at Whitechapel, click here
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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 Canon Production Printing (previously Océ - A Canon Company).
A sixteenth-century circular ceiling canvas painted by Giuseppe Salviati (Giuseppe Porta) for the Palazzo Grimani in Venice has been re-materialised as a facsimile and installed in its original location.
The painting, now in the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris, shows the dispute between Minerva and Neptune. Factum recorded both the ceiling itself and the oval space which it once occupied, using this data to ensure that the final facsimile fitted into its original context.
The ceiling can be seen from May in the Palazzo Grimani’s recently restored Vestibolo della Tribuna. You can find out more about making and installing the facsimile ceiling here.
The Cross River or Ikom monoliths are some of the most important sculptural works in Sub-Saharan Africa. A team from Factum Foundation is travelling to Cross River State in eastern Nigeria to continue a collaborative project with the Trust for African Rock Art and the University of Calabar to document and preserve the Ikom monoliths. The main focus of the trip is to establish how and when monoliths, identified in a number of international collections, left the country. Factum will also continue to record the monoliths in 3D and colour. Luke Tchalenko will be accompanying Ferdinand Saumarez Smith. He is the first photojournalist to be trained under the Factum-Frontline initiative.
The image was taken during a visit to Emangabe monolith site: this is one of two sites that have had preservation initiatives. Unfortunately, it appeared that even in a ‘protected’ site, fires from the neighbouring plantations had crossed over the protective wall and burnt the monoliths.
Factum Foundation are pleased to announce that work is now restarting in the tomb of Seti I, a critical step in completing one of the central goals of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative: to record and re-materialise the entire ancient site.
The recording of the Hall of Beauties, as well as a part of the main Burial Chamber and adjacent rooms, was completed in 2016. This resulted in the creation of an exact facsimile from the scanned data, exhibited at the Antikenmuseum in Basel in 2017-2018.
The partnership between Factum Foundation and the University of Basel, working under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, aims to safeguard the tombs of the Theban Necropolis through the direct application of digital technologies and the transfer of skills and equipment to a local team.
The recording phase, mainly funded by the Factum Foundation with the generous help of international donors, is an essential step towards the long-term preservation of the site while promoting sustainable tourism in the region.
Factum Foundation have undertaken the reproduction of Maria Sèthe at the Harmonium (1891) by Belgian neo-impressionist painter Théo van Rysselberghe to be returned to its original context of La Nouvelle Maison, the modernist home the affluent sitter shared with husband and well-known Art Nouveau designer and architect Henry van de Velde.
Maria Sèthe belonged to a wealthy Brussels industrialist family with an interest in the arts and is pictured here with a harmonium, a type of small organ that was popular with the musical families of the 19th-century bourgeoisie. Van Rysselberghe's stylish portrait thus stands as an evocation of the fashionable artistic milieu of middle-class Belgium at this time, with this project to return the work to it's intended location part of an effort to recreate the original fabric of La Nouvelle Maison.
More on the recording and materialisation process behind this facsimile can be found here.
As part of their exhibition ‘Memory of the Kingdom, 600 years of Generalitat Valenciana’, the Generalitat Valenciana commissioned Factum Foundation to reproduce the ‘Cimera de Jaime I’, an extraordinary 13th century example of the famed Crown of Aragon crest: a rampant golden dragon. This took centre stage in the second part of the exhibition, installed in the Generalitat’s Gothic Court, that explored the historical evolution of the shields of the Kingdom of Valencia, beginning with Pedro el Ceremonioso; the origin of this particular crest.
The piece was recorded using photogrammetry in the warehouses of the Royal Armoury, whilst high-resolution photography was also used to capture the colour data, alongside physical colour sticks. Undertaken using a combination of modern techniques, such as 3D printing, with traditional painting methods and materials, including rabbit tail-based glue, the process behind creating this complex facsimile can be seen here.