Artist: Archie McCahon

Work: Bells
Year: 2017
Construction: Bronze
Size: 230mm - 450mm
$2,700 - $6,900 each, various sizes available

This interactive sound installation incorporates five bronze Bells hanging from a large scale wooden structure. The ringing of a bell is a signal that informs us of something, perhaps the start or end of mass or a class, a call to action, an emergency or a public announcement. The symbolic meaning of a bell is about information and accruing wisdom, so we have a better understanding of something. For some, the bell is said to represent the 'voice of God'. In China bells are rung to communicate with spirits. The dome of the bell can also represent the 'vault of heaven' and the clapper is the 'voice of divinity'. The dome actually represents female sex organs and the clapper represents the male phallus. In buddhism, the resonance of a bell signifies 'pure wisdom' because the sound is one of perfect harmony and clarity.

McCahon feels that these lyrics by Leonard Cohen perfectly match the sentiment of the Bells; "Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything), that's how the light gets in, we asked for signs."
The artist comments that they invite the audience to "Just take this opportunity to ring these bells, and the feeling you get, and its rarity, is why this sculpture was made for you." The reverberation of a bell is used to help the viewer disengage the mind, to ascend conscious awareness and tap into the wisdom of our higher conscious so that it becomes more receptive.

Each bell is a unique work, modelled individually in clay and cast in a 'single pour'. For the artist, each work is another lesson learnt, cast making, welding, fettling, patina, hollow core, there is an alchemy, a magic that occurs. When the cast is rung and the shell falls away, the exposed sculpture is more than the bronze that entered the crucible, a birthing has been realised.

For McCahon, creating art is about communication and feeling, "I have created work that brings forward feelings of joy, calm, happiness and even concern". Sculpting allows him to have that interaction with a large audience, and bronze is a medium that traditionally a community owns through generations of time. We have all seen a bronze in a museum or in public which has a highly polished aspect, from the touch of a million hands. It could be said that a bell is owned by the ears that hear it.