Clock watch: Cornelia Parker’s hour has come at St Pancras International station
Leading British artist Cornelia Parker’s major new installation, ‘One More Time’, has a new home as of today: St Pancras International station.
Previewed in the June 2015 issue of Wallpaper* (W* 194), by Anna Bates, ’One More Time’ is a working replica of the station’s Dent clock – only reversed out, so that it is black where the original is white and vice versa. The black clock appears to float in front of the original, obscuring it as travellers move around the station, like the moon eclipsing the sun. The artist’s intention is to introduce the idea of slower, astronomical time.
The installation is the third of the Terrace Wires public art series. Each nominated artist is invited to develop a large-scale work, to be displayed for six months above the platform at St Pancras International. A new commission is made every year, by an advisory panel including broadcaster Evan Davis; Nigel Carrington, rector at the University of the Arts London; artist and curator Chris Wainwright; Wallpaper* editorial director Richard Cook; and Nicola Shaw, chief executive of HS1, which owns the station. This year is also the start of a four-year partnership with the Royal Academy to showcase new work by Academicians. Lucy + Jorge Orta kicked of the series with human sculptures on two clouds in 2013, and last year, David Batchelor replaced the clouds with a rainbow.
It was the latter that inspired Parker, indirectly. Her replica clock is in fact a copy of a copy; the original was sold by British Rail to help fund station renovations, but was dropped during removal. A railway worker collected the fragments and rebuilt the clock; it currently hangs on a gable in his barn, and was visited by Dent staff to help them make the copy that hangs in St Pancras now.
‘Mine is like a “son of ”, a close relative... the black sheep of the family,’ Parker jokes. ‘I like these copies, replicas, copies of copies. And I like the idea of hanging and time. Clocks aren’t usually free-floating. I like that about this, that time is this rogue thing; that there is one more time – and it could almost unhook itself from its situation and go somewhere else.’
The station is a particularly suitable setting for this installation, because for Parker, there are few places where time’s behaviour – its duality, as she puts it – is quite as strange: ‘When you’re in transit, time becomes more acute. You’re watching every minute. You’re in a heightened sense – are you going to catch your train? Then when you’re travelling, it’s almost like suspended time, isn’t it? When you’re travelling, are you living? You’re held in a state of limbo.’ As a meditation on this strange, human condition Parker has suspended time itself. ‘If there’s one thing about this piece, it’s about the limbo we’re all in,’ she reflects.
Find out more about Cornelia Parker’s installation, turn to pg 124 of W* 194 - out now