The Oratory – Laura Belém The Temple of a Thousand Bells

bells-100The Oratory – Laura Belém The Temple of a Thousand Bells
19 August – 28 November 2010

Brazillian artist Laura Belém’s beautiful new installation at National Museums Liverpool’s Oratory in St. James Cemetery is composed of a thousand glass bells and a polyphonic sound track creating a 3-D effect.  It is a new commission and trailblazer for Touched, Liverpool Biennial’s International 10 exhibition.


The Oratory is not normally open to the public: this commission represents an unusual opportunity for the public to gain access to a wonderful heritage site.

Sound will move between loudspeakers in the Grade I listed building, unveiling an ancient legend about a temple of a thousand bells that was built on an island. Over the centuries, the island sank into the ocean, and with it, the temple. As the story unfolds, it reveals the attempts of a sailor to hear the music of those bells. The narrative is interspersed by specially composed music and sound effects.

The one thousand bells of blown glass will hang from the roof of the Oratory, to complement the fine classical architecture of the space. The bells are without clappers – the only sound will come from the recorded audio: a visual metaphor to match the narrated legend of the lost music of the bells in the depths of the ocean. The mass of clear, translucent glass bells will evoke water, notions of spirituality, fragility and evanescence. They may also suggest lyricism, dreams and imagination.

The thousand glass bells have been made at one of the UK’s few surviving traditional glass blowing workshops, the Glass Blobbery in Corwen, North Wales.

Artist Laura Belém said, “My intention is to show a work that can touch the viewer’s ‘inner self’ – heart and soul – something we share universally and that transcends geographic and cultural boundaries. I am also interested in altering or creating other levels of perception of a public space for people in Liverpool.”

Venue: The Oratory, St James’ Cemetery
(next to Liverpool Cathedral), Liverpool L1 9DY

The installation is open to the public:
19 Aug – 17 Sep Thur – Sun only 10.00 – 18.00.
Bank Holiday Monday 30 Aug 10.00 – 18.00 
During Liverpool Biennial 2010 18 Sep – 28 Nov Mon – Sun 10.00 – 18.00.

The Oratory is not normally open to the public.

For full details, visit the Liverpool Biennial website.

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Laura Belém ‘The Temple of a Thousand Bells’

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