A K Dolven’s installation ‘Out of Tune’ features a sixteenth century tenor bell from Scraptoft Church in Leicestershire, which had been removed for not being in tune with the others. It is suspended from a steel cable strung between two 20m high steel beams, placed 30m apart.
Much of the work of Norwegian artist A.K Dolven highlights feelings of exile and being ‘out of sync’ with your surroundings. She created ‘Out of Tune’ for Folkestone Triennial 2011, whose theme was migration and exile. The sculpture resurrects a sixteenth century church bell which had been left abandoned in a foundry for lacking the required purity of tone, in other words having the wrong sound. Dolven has given the bell a new life making its difference a virtue. It now stands alone in front of the sea and sky unhindered by a belfry or the restrictions of telling the time and marking ecclesiastical events. During the 2011 Triennial, visitors were invited to pull the rope and ring the bell, giving it a voice after years of silence. The sculpture is sited in dialogue with the churches of St Peter’s, above the Stade, and St Mary’s and St Eanswyth, high on The Bayle. The artist was intrigued by the idea of the perfectly tuned bells of these churches holding a ‘conversation’ with the single ring of her un-tuned bell (which has a mechanism that ensures the bell resonates and lingers before gently fading away).
The bell was cast by Hugh Watts in the seventeenth century in Leicester. The Watts family were the leading bell founders in that city in the early 17th century. In all, they were responsible for almost two hundred castings for churches in the county. Hugh Watts prospered and was the Mayor of Leicester when King Charles 1st visited the city in 1634.