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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Introducing the Time and Tide Bell Project.

A permanent installation around the U.K. of bells rung by the sea at high tide.

Marcus Vergette has designed a bell with a new harmonic relationship, which can sound different notes from the same strike, and is played by the movement of the waves creating a varying musical pattern. This bell has been installed at the high tide mark at a number of diverse sites around the country, from urban centres to open stretches of coastline. To create, celebrate, and reinforce connections, between different parts of the country, between the land and the sea; between ourselves, our history, and our environment. Additionally as sea levels rise as an effect of climate change, the periods of bell strikes will become more and more frequent, and as the bells become submerged in the rising waters the pitch will vary.

The first bell was installed in July 2009 at Appledore, Devon: the second on Bosta beach Gt. Bernera, Outer Hebrides in June 2010: the third at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London in September 2010.  The fourth installed in Aberdyfi, Wales August 2011, and the fifth Anglesey, Spring 2014.  Lincolnshire will host the sixth.

The integrity of the Time and Tide Bell project nationally is in the choice of the sites and how they connect.  Each site brings something particular and unique to the whole group.

Appledore, Devon (installed May, 2009), in North Devon, on the Taw and Torridge estuary, an ancient shipbuilding town with connections east and west, through export of domestic ceramics to the West Indies as part of the slave trade, to ball clay still being shipped to Russia. Here are some of the highest tides in Europe, the base of the bell marks the moment the water is over the bar and ships may leave or enter the estuary.

Isle of Bernera, ( installed June 19, 2010) on the northwest fringe Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides; is some of the oldest rock/land on earth, and has been resisting the ravages of sea for 3 - 400,000,000 years, from before the fossil record.  This island has a complex history of courage, and independence in the face of resource depletion and oppression, with barely a tree now left on the island. Bosta beach has been the point of arrival and departure for many different groups and cultures from the Vikings to the clearances.

  Bosta Beach, Great Bernera, Isle of Lewis

Trinity Buoy Wharf, (installed Sept 19, 2010) London, on the embankment wall of the Thames, 28 seconds east of the Meridian Line.  One of this bell’s potential meanings is as a time-piece or time-marker, both in the way the bell is rung by the movement of the sea at high tide daily, and as a long time marker of sea levels and present shoreline.  Here Michael Faraday built a lighthouse to experiment with electric lighting for lighthouses, lighthouse keepers were trained, and navigation buoys were made.  This site is the confluence of the Lee and the Thames rivers which twist and turns between walls and embankments, through factories and houses as it winds its way from the central heart of England to the sea.

Trinity Buoy Wharf, London

Aberdyfi, Wales ( installed August 2011) clinging to the rocky edge of Snowdonia, on the estuary of the historic river Dovey, flowing down the mountain Arran Mawddy to Cardigan Bay, the dividing line between north and south Wales.  Aberdyfi is referred to in ancient Gaelic legend and song as the former kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod now submerged beneath Cardigan Bay, and its bells which, it is said, can be heard ringing beneath the water.  Here the tree stumps from the post ice age forests are revealed at low tide. The ancient Gaelic legend perhaps referring to ice melt at the end of the last ice age and the formation of the bay.

Aberdyfi, under the pier. 

Cemaes, Anglesey ( to be installed Spring 2013) Cemaes Bay is on the north coast of Angelsey and is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a unique history and some of the most geologically important shoreline in Britain, whose signifigance has been recognized internationally.  Local legend insists that St Patrick was shipwrecked on Ynys Badrig, where he founded a church in 440 AD.  However this project is not only to connect with the past but also to engage with the present and future.  Around Cemaes there is a long history of varied land use, with farming, industry, and mining, and more recently wind farms, and a nuclear power station.  The Time and Tide Bell has become a way for residents and visitors to connect with their own history and environment, as an instrument of measurement, as a musical instrument, as a sculpture, and a focus for music, events, exchanges, etc, both locally and between the different bell sites. 

Cemaes Bat, Anglesey 

The Bell at Mablethorpe North End will be the sixth in the series and two more are planned for Morecombe Bay in Lancashire and Happisburgh, Norfolk. 

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