1 August, 2012
Eastbourne chimed in with a resounding UK celebration at precisely 8.12am on Friday, as crowds gathered at the entrance to Towner to take part in a historic artwork to celebrate the first day of the Olympics.
Towner, Eastbourne’s award-winning contemporary museum, invited Sussex residents and visitors to participate in Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed’s Work No. 1197: All the bells in the country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible. Thousands of people across the UK took part in All The Bells – from Big Ben to the HMS Belfast, and from Britain’s northernmost inhabited house in Shetland to a research station in Antarctica!
Over 50 people gathered outside Towner, bringing with them a variety of bells and instruments – with one participant even creating a ringing sound with a crow bar and hammer! Those who didn’t have a bell to ring were able to download an exclusive Martin Creed ringtone.
Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Neil Stanley said “We were delighted to see such a fantastic turnout for Towner’s All The Bells event, despite the early hour! – the atmosphere was enormously joyful and celebratory, and ears were ringing for some time afterwards! The event provided a great way for the people of Eastbourne to get involved in the Olympics and ring in the excitement of London 2012, whilst being part of a nationwide artwork that will go down in history.”
Towner was delighted to be ringing a special historic chapel bell from Ditchling Museum. The bell was made by J Warner & Sons, London in 1864 and used by the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic from the early 1920s until its closure in 1989. The bell was used to call the artists and craftspeople, who lived and worked as a Catholic faith community – including Eric Gill, David Jones and Edgar Holloway – to the chapel.
With the major TV channels devoting the day’s airtime to Britain’s Olympic welcome, Eastbourne’s bell ringing appeared on both ITV Meridian and BBC South East regularly throughout the day.