Grayson Perry’s End Of Covid Bell


Installation at the Royal Academy

The Royal Academy Summer Show opens today which features the public debut of Grayson Perry’s ‘End of Covid Bell’ that he made in support of our ongoing campaign to Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

This is the first of an ambitious series of projects devised to establish the centrality of bells within our culture, recognizing their long history in marking time, mourning death and celebrating life. Grayson’s bell was cast under the auspices of ‘The London Bell Foundry,’ the company established to take over the former Whitechapel Bell Foundry and re-open it as a working foundry.

“I’ve always wanted to make a bell,” admitted Grayson, “it is one of the categories of objects that are traditional and potent. This bell I conceived as a memorial to the dead of the pandemic, it is covered in what looks like an aerial view of a multicultural cemetery. It also features a doctor and a patient. It could also be rung as a celebration that we have survived. ”

Nigel Taylor – who was foreman at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for forty years – worked closely with Grayson, tuning the bell to ensure that it delivers a suitably resonant chime. Without access to the foundry in Whitechapel, the bell was fabricated by Factum Arte in Spain, cast by Pangolin Foundry, Gloucestershire and, tuned at Nicholson Engineering in Dorset.

After the Royal Academy, we hope to transfer the bell to the Royal London Hospital, where those who experienced bereavement due to Covid can come to toll it in commemoration of their loss. We would like the bell to undertake a tour of major hospitals throughout the country next year.

Meanwhile down in Whitechapel, the historic foundry buildings sit forlorn, unaltered and occupied by property guardians indefinitely. Post-Covid, it is evident that the boutique hotel proposal is no longer viable. The developer’s commitment to employing the old foundry buildings as workshops for local people – which we believe they entered into to make the planning application acceptable – renders the notion of an upscale hotel at the rear problematic at best.

Grayson Perry’s maquette for his ‘End of Covid Bell’

Rob Ryan’s logo for The London Bell Foundry

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Adam Dant’s Bells of Whitechapel

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