A Storm is Blowing/Timekeeper

ReportFCTreeA Storm is Blowing_CathyHaynes_©Sue Barr_small casesCathy_Haynes_A_Storm_Is_Blowing_Stoic_Circles_Photo_Sue_Barr


From January to October 2013 I was Timekeeper in residence at the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in central London. My role was to devise and lead a multi-disciplinary creative research project supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. It explored how time is modelled, mapped, measured and lived through a series of multi-disciplinary events, interviews and workshops.

Alongside the general public, contributors included the astronomer Marek Kukula, the materials expert Zoe Laughlin, the philosopher Robert Rowland-Smith and the composer David Toop .

Then, drawing on this collective research, I made the exhibition A Storm Is Blowing at the Petrie Museum over Summer 2013, pictured above and below.

A Storm is Blowing was a kind of a 3D diagram that linked 35 historical pictures and models of time with background notes, and a take-away Report on Progress (below), with drawings and text by the Timekeeper.

The objects included an ancient Egyptian game of life in the form of a coiled snake, the future figured as a many-horned goat, a five-metre chart of history as a stream, the ancient Stoic circle of life, Facebook and its 18th-century parent, and their knotty antithesis.

Some of the objects were already inside the museum (see photo, above), some are part of the Timekeeper’s personal collection of time maps, and some were made specially.


The project ended at Midsummer with The Eye of Ra, headlined by Gaggle leading us in a glorious Midsummer Rite, ‘The Eye of Ra’, pictured below.

I invited Gaggle to devise a performance inspired by the Midsummer rituals that ancient Egyptians would make to appease Sekhmet, the lion-headed daughter — the ‘Eye’ — of the Sun god Ra. Sekhmet was Ra’s protector during his nightly passage through the chambers of the Underworld. She was responsible for bringing him back at dawn for the day and at Midsummer for the year. That’s why you need to appease the Eye of Ra: she has the power to give time its right shape.


To read an interview about the project in TiP (Thinking in Practice), click here.

To hear me talking about the project on Monocle radio, click here.

Images: Installation photos by Sue Barr; Report on Progress written and drawn by Cathy Haynes and designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio; Gaggle performing the Eye of Ra, 22 June 2013.