Emma Smith

Emma Smith is an artist based in London, UK. Her practice is interdisciplinary and utilizes events, performance, participation, sound and text to explore the inter-relation between people and place. Smith is particularly interested in embedded and tacit forms of place knowledge and the ways by which this is and can be communicated.


Campanologia is an ongoing project by artist Emma Smith to explore the history of bell ringing as an ancient form of communication and call to collective action.

During a residency in the Department of Overlooked Histories at Wysing Arts Centre (2011), Smith worked in collaboration with the Bourn ringers and experts from Cambridge University to compose a new ringing composition: Bourn Bounds Bob Major.

Exploring the history of ringing as a mode of communication, Smith mapped the mathematical diagram of a method traditionally played by the church’s ringers onto the geographic area over which the sound could be heard. Using the thoroughfares and byways of the village of Bourn to dictate the composition, Smith then converted this geographic map back into sound, creating a sonic rendering of the landscape over which the sound could be heard. The composition takes a journey from the bell tower, down all village roads, to the extent of the parish boundary.

The resulting composition incorporates a series of transitions in order to be played in accordance with the practice of change ringing.

The score was rung in Bourn church as a public performance on Saturday 12th November 2012.

To accompany the performance Smith created a set of handchimes, courtesy of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, tonally matching the bells in Bourn Church. These are presented in an oak chest which has the score engraved on its lid. This work was exhibited at Wysing Arts Centre, along with a limited edition print of the score available to take away for free from the gallery. Gallery visitors were invited to play the score themselves using the hand chimes.

This work has since been presented at Artsadmin, London, 2012 and Smith is currently working on the development of a new score in Italy.


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