Time ticking to find 500 clocks

2,000 clocks will form the installation. Pic: Helen Lisk Photography.

2,000 clocks will form the installation. Pic: Helen Lisk Photography.

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Hundreds of ticking clocks will form a spectacular art installation in honour of one of the world’s greatest inventors.

As clocks are turned back this weekend, the countdown will begin to find 500 timepieces to help create the exhibition inspired by John Harrison at Nostell Priory.

Donations of clocks are needed for the Harrison’s Garden display, which will mark the 300th birthday of a historic marine clock he invented which is now looked after by the estate.

It is one of only three surviving “longcase” clocks, the first instrument which could accurately tell the time at sea.

Born at nearby Foulby in 1693 and the son of a carpenter at the estate, Harrison took up the challenge of improving marine safety after 1,500 sailors died in severe weather off the Isles of Scilly in 1707. Parliament offered rewards of up to £20,000, £2.8m in today’s money, and self taught Harrison set about solving problem, inventing the first marine chronometer.

He then spent the following three decades on persistent experimentation and testing which revolutionised sea navigation.

In March 2017, as clocks are wound forward, the Harrison’s Garden installation of 2,000 clocks will go on display at Nostell.

Project curator Chris Blackburn said: “At Nostell we celebrate the work of ordinary people crafting the extraordinary.

“We’re very proud to look after one of John Harrison’s early handmade wooden clocks and we’re looking forward to telling his story through this fascinating contemporary installation.”

Clocks will be clustered in patterns and set to different times so visitors can hear layers of ticking and chiming.

It will be part of a programme of events celebrating the work of John Harrison, who had no formal education and spent his earlier years crafting clocks entirely from wood.

After opening at Nostell in March, Harrison’s Garden will move to Castle Drogo in Devon, Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire and Penrhyn Castle in Wales, with each place asking their communities to donate 500 additional clocks.

The installation is being created as part of Trust New Art, a contemporary arts programme by the National Trust. For more information about Harrison’s Garden and how to donate a clock log on to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nostell