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  • Writer's pictureWorld Half Full

Ringing the bells of peace


A people’s “orchestra of bells” led by avant-garde artist and musician Yoko Ono signalled the start of the Manchester International Festival. The event — titled “Bells for Peace” — attracted a crowd of thousands to the city’s Cathedral Gardens, not far from Manchester Arena, site of the 2017 bomb attack. Ono herself was unable to be present in person, but she did appear on a giant screen via satellite from her home in New York City to lead the proceedings.  She described the event as “an incredible vibration” that “might just change the world”.

Four thousand hand-crafted bells were made especially for the occasion and the city held bell-ringing workshops ahead of the event. Encouraged to bring their own bells, people duly brought an array of ringers including hand bells, bicycle bells, cow bells — even sleigh bells. Festival organiser, Emily Lim, said Ono very much wanted the mass ring-a-thon to be a people-driven event. “She doesn’t feel or think of peace as a passive thing.” The Bells for Peace kicked off Manchester’s 18-day biennial festival, the program of which includes exhibitions, films, stage performances and art installations. 

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