Shetland rings in the start of the Olympics

Posted by on July 23rd, 2012 No Comments

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Shetland Arts is proud to announce that it will be taking part in All the Bells, a UK-wide project celebrating the first day of the London 2012 Olympic Games, as the UK’s most northerly participant.

At 8:12am on Friday 27 July, the aptly named Belle Spence will ring a bell for three minutes as quickly and as loudly as possible on Skaw beach in Unst, Shetland’s most northerly Isle, creating a unique soundscape of birds, waves, wind and the crisp, clear ringing of the bell, to herald the beginning of the Olympic Games across the UK. This will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Scotland via live satellite uplink and will also be recorded and covered by BBC Radio Shetland.

Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes, aka All the Bells, is a project created by Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed. Creed attended the Slade School of Art in London and has had numerous solo exhibitions and projects around the world. All the Bells was commissioned by the London 2012 Festival to welcome the beginning of the Olympic Games.

The project will see bells ringing simultaneously all across the UK for three minutes on the morning of Friday 27 July. This includes church bells in more than 5,000 locations, school bells, town hall bells, bicycle bells, doorbells, and, of course, the antique bell, kindly loaned by the Unst Boat Haven, which was originally used by the Baltasound Herring Station to signal when fish were going to be auctioned, on Skaw beach in Unst.

Skaw Beach, Unst. Photo by Willie Angus

Unst is the most northerly populated island in the UK and is unique in terms of its scenic beauty and charm. Sited on a 12 by 5 mile area and with a population of approximately 700, the land remains unspoilt and visitors are always welcomed.

Belle Spence lives in Unst, near to Skaw Beach. She is an enthusiastic marathon runner and is the driving force behind Shetland’s yearly record-breaking fundraiser, Relay for Life. Belle was also a torchbearer when the Olympic Torch visited Shetland in June.

Belle said: “It’s really great to get to take part in this. I felt very special being asked to be a torchbearer and now getting asked to ring this bell to open the Games! I’m really pleased to get to be both the UK’s most northerly torchbearer and the UK’s most northerly bell ringer.”

Shetland Arts’ Director, Gwilym Gibbons, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Shetland Arts will be playing such a unique part in this incredible UK project, and we are very thankful to Belle Spence and the Unst Boat Haven for their part in the event. We are confident that the haunting ringing of the bell, combined with the musical sounds of Shetland’s wildlife, and the dramatic crashing of wind and waves, will create a completely unique and magical soundscape, welcoming the opening of the Olympic Games all the way from the northen most beach in the UK.”

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