In English: The Finnish Untuned Bell

The modernist painter Helene Schjerfbeck crossed the borders of her country to gain knowledge and to be part of a broader international discussion. In a sense she brought the sound of Europe back home. Both Bretagne and Cornwall were important for her. At home the trees and a park bench in Ekenes were part of her every day life. The bench was like her studio.

Helene Schjerfbeck became a strong and defining artist, with new different tones in the Finnish landscape of Modern art in the beginning of the last century. As a Norwegian artist working abroad she is an inspiration in so many ways. Her gaze in her many self portraits as she ages, will always stay with me.

Ekenes harbour, with its tall trees, was an inspiring site, where I could easily imagine my found bell from England amongst the trees. A bell with a unique tone. The work can be seen from land and sea. It is sheltered, but has an open view. It can stand the cold and the heat, even a flooded sea. The sky is the canvas for the bell.

The bell was intended for destruction as it was out of tune with the other bells in the church. In the Whitechapel Bell foundry in England I found this bell, tested it and made a new clapper inside, like a tongue in the bell. The bell got its voice back. The bell with its sound was brought to Ekenes – where it on its own sounds beautiful up in the trees. The specially made benches are part of the work. Sometimes I want to sit on my own and not feel that I am missing someone next to me. Therefore I made two benches for one person only. The others are for two or more, if you wish.

Inscribed on the bell:
Writtle Old 7th: Recast of older bell.
Cast by Thomas Mears in Whitechapel London in 1811 by voluntary contribution and Parish Rate through Mr. Rambert Brewer when the tower was rebuilt following its collapse in 1800, lightly hand tuned.


A K Dolven
London, June 2013