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Bells for Peace…to Honor the Past and to Assure the Future
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Appeal for a Peal at Virginia Union Belgian Friendship Building

See the magnificent bas relief on the campus of Virginia Union University now being restored and preserved by sculptor James Robertson. The bas relief is on the exterior of the Belgian Friendship Building, the work of Belgian sculptors Puvrez and Jespers.

The Belgian Building is the Belgian Pavilion of the 1939 New York Worlds Fair and was sent to Richmond in 1941. The restoration project is funded by Bells for Peace, Inc in partnership with Virginia Union University.

James Robertson, 34

Sculptor and Mason (Style Magazine October 15, 2013)

James Robertson’s introduction to sculpting was born out of a tragedy. At 17, when one of his friends at James River High School in Midlothian died, Robertson instinctively turned to the format to create a memorial.

“It just kind of blossomed organically,” he says, “this idea of making a sculpture.”

Since then, he’s slowly built a reputation in the art form, becoming the young face of sculpture in a city full of monuments to the past.

His efforts help make memories live on. He’s worked on some of Richmond’s most high-profile monuments, including the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue. He spent four years as a member of a three-man team that rebuilt and restored the Indian Pavilion in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ East Asian collection. On the campus of Virginia Union University, he’s in the midst of restoring the largest terra-cotta relief sculpture made in the last 2,500 years, a piece called “Belgians at Work.”

He also creates original pieces. He recently collaborated with Paul DiPasquale on a memorial for fallen police officers in Virginia Beach. He donates time and services to VMFA, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and Art on Wheels. And he’s working on a service project in which veterans will make art with an ancient Roman siege warfare weapon by firing sculpted objects into clay.

“I think that volunteering at all is the greatest way to expand your own knowledge of your craft and your knowledge of your community,” he says. “Plus, I’m addicted to having my hands dirty.”

A TRIBUTE IN LIGHTS: Veterans Day, November 11, 2013

Bells For Peace, Inc with Virginia Union University (VUU) lights the Robert L.Vann Memorial Tower of the Belgian Friendship Building, Veterans Day, November 11, 2013 as its new tower bells chime. Once dark and silent against the Richmond skyline, the majestic 161’ tower will be a tribute to veterans of all colors and creeds who were processed in the Belgian Building for WWII; and to all who have served in America’s foreign wars. Read more(pdf)

Governor Kaine Declares Sunday, April 20, 2008 as Bells for Peace Sunday!
Read the Declaration (PDF) | Link to Governor's Proclamation web page

From The Bulletin, read "Bells Appealing,” by Sarah McFadden, dated August 14, 2008.  The Bulletin, an Ackroyd Publication of Belgium, is Brussels’ essential English-language weekly magazine.  Published in the capital of Europe since 1962, it is continental Europe’s most successful English-language publication sent to 50,000 readers in 40 nations.

Cardinal Chronicle: Stanford University recognizes Bells for Peace in support of Virginia Union University. Read more.

National Trust for Historic Preservation acknowledges work of Bells for Peace. Read more.

Bells for Peace, Inc. was incorporated on December 8, 2004 by the Virginia State Corporation Commission as a non-stock, not for profit charitable organization and organized for the purpose of supporting Virginia Union University in memory of Dr. John Malcus Ellison, Sr. and Mrs. Elizabeth Balfour Ellison.

Bells for Peace, Inc. has been determined by the IRS to be a tax-exempt charitable non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

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Website Created March 2005
Last Updated on October 6, 2012
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