David Snoo Wilson’s Story
David Snoo Wilson travelled to Germany, Latvia, Poland and Austria in 2014 to explore traditional bell casting.
David is a bronze founder who has long been intrigued with the creation of bells.
“Throughout history bells have played an important part in communication and ritual. They have marked both birth and death. Bells are important in our culture, as they are the signifiers of change, be it the end of war or the union of two people” –David Snoo Wilson
David’s Fellowship enabled him to travel to the old bell foundries of central Europe and to witness the craft and performance of iron founders of Latvia. Highlights from his travels included meeting ‘Brother Michael’, the only bell-founding monk in the world, and to be taught casting techniques by the sculptor and ex-Soviet sergeant Karlis Alanis.
After returning to the UK, David worked with artists and storytellers to create a travelling theatre show entitled ‘Song of the Bell’, which incorporates folklore and myth derived from the old central European foundries he visited during his Fellowship. The show climaxes with molten bronze being poured in front of the audience to create a bell.
In 2016, David received funding from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust to conduct research into bell alloys and their harmonic consequences. In this work he has experimented with introducing new elements to the traditional bell alloy mix in order to explore how this affects the bell’s sound. Through this research, which continues today, David has worked with Marcus Vergette, one of the world’s leading bell designers.
David also co-founded a business in 2016, casting bells at weddings. A mobile foundry is brought to the wedding venue, where a ring melting ceremony takes place, enabling all the wedding participants to take part in the creation of the bell. The concept for this business was influenced by David’s experiences of the metal casting performance which he witnessed in the Baltic, and draws on the culture and lore of the ancient bell foundries.
David currently teaches at the Royal College of Art in London, where he works with metal casting facilities, and continues to enjoy sharing his knowledge of foundry skills and metal.
Read David’s report here