The RV Furor Scribendi, Small Bells Ring ©

Charles Emerson

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 will commence on 15 May 2021, running for 12 months. The 365-day cultural programme will reflect Coventry as a diverse, modern city, demonstrating that culture is a force that changes lives. Coventry is known internationally as a city of welcome, a city of activists and pioneers, peace and reconciliation, innovation, and invention, and now a City of Culture. The British Council is the International Partner for UK City of Culture 2021.

Small Bells Ring is an artwork created by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison of Studio Morison, centred on The RV Furor Scribendi, a fully functioning sculptural narrowboat which operates as a living research vessel, housing a floating library of short stories and a retreat for writers and readers.

Co-commissioned by Super Slow Way and Coventry City of Culture Trust, in collaboration with Lancashire and Coventry Library Services and their communities, supported by the Canal and River Trust and British Council, The RV Furor Scribendi will be launched in Accrington, Lancashire at the end of May and will voyage along the waterways of Lancashire, Manchester, Liverpool and Stoke-On-Trent, to spend the summer in Coventry as part of its year as UK City of Culture, and return to East Lancashire for British Textile Biennial 2021.  

Although it is the UK’s first national collection of short stories, Small Bells Ring is not just about books. It is about the people and their stories in a diversity of languages, and about the places the boat travels through.Small Bells Ring will eventually hold 800 books from the libraries of Coventry and Lancashire, as well as books from UK and international publishers. 

Small Bells Ring will exist in real and digital life with a programme of events that will engage with the communities along the canals in Coventry and Lancashire, and with international publishers and writers, to connect stories from around the world with the UK. People will be invited to take virtual and real tours of the boat and participate in conversation with the artists. A Captain’s Log will be kept capturing the conditions and conversations, within and around Furor Scribendi.