The Bell


David Shrigley
This work consists of a brass bell placed next to a sign reading 'NOT TO BE RUNG AGAIN UNTIL JESUS RETURNS'. At a glance, the sign appears to be made from a piece of folded over card on which the words have been hand-written in capitals with felt-tip pen. However, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that it is made from aluminium. The bell itself seems to have been Shrigley's inspiration for the work. Having purchased it at a flea market, it remained in his studio for a long time while he imagined how he might use it. The appealing comedy, reference to religion, and amateur style of writing are all typical of Shrigley's work. As Michael Bracewell suggests, Shrigley's sculpture and drawings describe 'an arcane, dangerous world in which the smallest of incidents present moral crisis and the best intentions of sanity or innocence are challenged by the forces of evil.' In this case, Shrigley seems to be pointing towards the irony of moralising in situations which make no moral sense, as well as questioning both the 'claims of fine art to instruct or enlighten' and the 'reduction of life to a constant battle between good and evil.' Helen Loughlan
  • Artwork Details: 155.5 x 50 x 50cm Bell, 31 x 17 x 17cm Sign, 7 x 10 x 9cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: Brass bell, aluminium sign
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Sculpture
  • Accession number: ACC10/2008

Explore this Artwork

In 2020 a group of refugees and asylum seekers worked together with Firstsite staff and Refugee Action Colchester to curate My name is not Refugee, an exhibition featuring works from the Arts Council Collection.

Alongside the exhibition, the group of curators worked with poet Laila Sumpton to write poetry in response to the artworks that were chosen.

The following poem was written a member of the group in response to ‘The Bell’ (2007) by David Shrigley. 

Find more poems and more here.

By Diego Robirosa

Am I the only one feeling this tightness in my torso
this deep call
reflecting conflict, intimidation, pushing and pulling
this sound, so simple and yet so powerful
awakening a childlike spirituality
miracle of persistent hopes
when did all this sound begin
what if the bells stop ringing
from the silence and the ashes
a call to a new dawn


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.