Olympic ring: Bells to launch UK 2012 arts festival

Fri Nov 4, 2011 11:44am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Bells will ring out across Britain on the morning of July 27 to mark the opening of the 2012 Olympics in London, part of a 12-week program of cultural events celebrating the arts alongside sport.

Martin Creed, winner of the Turner Prize whose featured work that year comprised lights going on and off in an empty room, will create "Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes."

The work aims to involve thousands of members of the public ringing whatever bells they have at hand on the day the summer Olympics begin -- from the largest church bells to those on bicycles and in school playgrounds.

"It's by people and for people," said Creed. "On the morning of the opening of the Games it's a massive signal that something is happening."

The concept was announced on Friday at the launch of the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week program of concerts, exhibitions, films and live events across the United Kingdom to coincide with the Olympics.

The festival is the culmination of the longer four-year Cultural Olympiad, and both are designed to showcase Britain's artistic heritage and boost tourism beyond 2012.

Leading lights of the art world will be involved, including singer Damon Albarn, playwright Alan Ayckbourn, Australian actress Cate Blanchett, American Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and artist Damien Hirst.

"Hosting the Olympics next year is an enormous opportunity for us to show the world just what a creative nation we have," said Tony Hall, chair of the Cultural Olympiad board.   Continued...