Yoko Ono opened the Manchester International Festival (MIF) in England by getting thousands of people to ring bells for peace.
The 86-year-old artist and musician, who famously joined her husband John Lennon in a two-week ‘bed-in’ protest for peace in 1969, appeared via a video for the curtain raising event on Thursday.
As part of her Bells for Peace work Yoko told more than 4,000 people to “hold up your bells and ring them for peace” before instructing the crowd to “draw a circle in the sky,” “make a promise to a tree,” and to “count the clouds and name them”.
The spectacle took place in the city’s Cathedral Gardens – close to the Manchester Arena, where 22 people, including children, were killed in a terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.
Yoko had been expected to attend the event in person, but was unable to travel to the city from her home in New York.
“Yoko has created Bells for Peace as an instructional, mass participatory artwork for MIF19,” a spokesperson for the MIF told the Manchester Evening News. “She is not able to travel to Manchester to be here in person, but will be conducting the bell ringing on screen via a specially recorded film.”
The bell ringing closed with the crowd erupting into John and her Plastic Ono Band’s 1969 anti-war anthem Give Peace A Chance.
Ahead of the event, Yoko told The Guardian: “I always wanted to do a bell piece (of) music, and I got a chance to do it, so I’m doing it. Whenever we win the war, we bring out our own bell to say, we won!,” adding that bells should be “a peaceful sound”.