Artist: Stephen Cruise
Bronze and wood
7 ' 2" wide x 14' high
Stephen Cruise's Bell Measure is actually two pieces combined into one.
The Bell of the title recalls the importance of many different kinds of bells
that once rang out over our communities, each one with its own kind of
The ringing of church bells recorded the passing of time for generations of
people. The same sound also marked significant community events. Church bells
rang for religious ceremonies and for important town meetings, for family
gatherings, even for emergency fire alarms. Hand held school bells called
children to classes or released them for recess. The ringing of a dinner bell
meant it was time to put down work and return home for a meal. In a very
intimate way these bells "measured" out the regular span of a life
and marked its major events.
Cruise's work takes the bell out of the belfry and puts it on display.
It asks us to take a closer look at an art form of the everyday. His work
invites the viewer to appreciate the precision, balance and craftsmanship of
these ordinary masterpieces that were never really seen by the public.
The Measure of Cruise's title applies to the long wooden handle of the
piece and references the image of a bar measure, a very tall, calibrated ruler
used by archaeologists to take measurements of depth and range. The bar measure
is a kind of historical marker. In an excavated site it negotiates between the
present and the past; it stands between the buried culture and the researchers
who attempt to unearth it. The bar measure provides archaeologists with a sense
Stephen Cruise has produced a work that balances its interest in community
and archaeology. Like a time capsule his Bell Measure gives us a history of our
present. As a true sign of its time, the date of the work's installation is
stamped in Roman numerals on the bottom rim of the bell: MCMXCIX. Cruise's
massive and silent Bell Measure marks its territory on the old side of our
shifting millennium, before the take over of streamlining abbreviations like
"Y2K" or the ominous sounding Roman Numeral: MM.
About Stephen Cruise
Stephen Cruise was born in Montreal in 1949. He has traveled around the
world and lived for extended periods of time in Seoul, South Korea and Tokyo,
Cruise's sculpture has been exhibited across North America and featured
in many international shows, including three recent appearances in the Bienal
Barro de Americo in Caracas, Venezuela.
Cruise has won several important commissions for public art in the
Metropolitan Toronto area. The six pieces of his Spadina Avenue series Places
in a Book reinforce his interest in ideas of localized history. Cruise's
work has been recognized with grants and awards from the Canada Council and the
Ontario Arts Council. His sculpture is featured in the collections of the
National Gallery, The Art Gallery of Ontario and the Canada Council Art
Stephen Cruise is also an accomplished martial artist in Kendo 5dan,
(Japanese sword fencing) and Iaido Renshit 6dan(Japanese sword draw).