A Storm is Blowing/Timekeeper


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 lead a multi-disciplinary creative research project supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.  The project explored how time is modelled, mapped, measured and lived through a series of multi-disciplinary events, interviews and workshops.

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

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

A Storm is Blowing took the form of a 3D diagram that linked 35 historical pictures and models of time with questions, ideas and background histories.

These 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 (like the stone board game above and the shadow clock below), some were found and brought in, and some were made for the installation.

The installation was accompanied by A Report on Progress (below), with drawings and text by me, the Timekeeper. It was designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio.


The event programme for 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; Gaggle performing the Eye of Ra, 22 June 2013.