BELL making can take its toll.
Not least, says Anton Hasell, the logistics, labour and materials required in their production.
“This is my studio, crazy as it is,” he says from his bell foundry on a 12ha property at Mia Mia, north of Kyneton, with its jumbled machinery, metal, and objects d’art.
“This is a furnace for melting half a tonne of bronze.
“And here,” he says, lifting a 40kg solid bell “is the project I’m working on now.”
The 61-year-old sculptor has public works of art around Australia, including a bluestone police memorial on Melbourne’s St Kilda Rd, to a new light box installation at Epworth Hospital and a Eureka Stockade sculpture in Ballarat, with a fascination for laser cut printing.
But it is his bells — from great clangers to gentle tinklers — for which he is best known.
It’s through his bells — (he even has a doctorate on bells in public spaces) — that Anton has become renowned, not just for his complex vision of the role of bell art in the community, but also for his revolutionary methods, combining ancient, traditional arts with digital technology, which has even seen him invent a new bell.
|Making music: Anton Hasell has a doctorate on bells in public spaces.|
As much as he enjoys hearing them clang, he says he doesn’t make bells to make music.
Rather, his interest lies in their history, their role as sacred objects in religion, and the science of bell curves.
“Bells are sculptures and always have been. Shapes and forms are what interest me,” says Anton, who was drawing and making art from childhood, later studying economics and then art, majoring in sculpture.
He says his role creating art for public spaces is to make it fun and interactive.
“I’m endlessly trying to reintroduce bells as a musical place of experience, to bring people together in playfulness and joy.”
Anton walks through his studio donging bells to elicit a sound. It was this science of sound that led him to invent the harmonic bell, which has one note, rather than two notes of the traditional European bell.
He says it was modern technology — applied to an ancient art — that gave him the skill to create the harmonic bell.
Once he’s created a 3D computer model of a bell, he creates laser cut moulds, then using traditional skills to melt ingots of silicon bronze (made from copper and glass) to model the bells.
While he’s largely focused on commissioned public art works, he also holds his own solo and joint exhibitions.
Anton grew up in Warrnambool and says connection with place is an important part of his work. He moved to Mia Mia in 1989, with his sculptor wife Georgina and two children, after working in rural retreats in Scotland and Italy.
“I now find cities full of noise. Being in the country has given me a love of silence.”
NOTE: For more information about Australian Bell, go to: http://www.ausbell.com.au/.