Millennium Gallery invites people to while away their time
Time has provided a constant source of fascination for artists. From cave drawings suggesting how early man tracked time by looking to the stars to the Vanitas still life paintings of 16th and 17th century showing the transience of life, it has been a recurrent theme throughout art history.
In today’s information age and a world that seems to be moving faster every minute, artists continue to be inspired by the passing of time and its impact upon us.
A new immersive exhibition at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery, The Time is Now, explores how contemporary artists reflect the minutes, months and years that govern everything we do.
Louisa Briggs, Museums Sheffield Exhibitions and Displays Curator, says: “What we want people to think is that, in terms of our place in the world, it is such a short period of time although in our day-to-day experience, it doesn’t feel like that.
“Each of the works in the exhibition invites us to consider the complex ways in which time fundamentally influences the way we live.”
Suspended from the ceiling is a giant revolving mirrorball reflecting more than 10,000 images charting the progression of the moon as it eclipses the sun. Katie Paterson’s mesmeric installation, Totality, was created from drawings and photographs of nearly every solar eclipse documented by humankind, including the oldest solar eclipse drawings from hundreds of years ago, and the earliest 19th century photographs, to images from the most technological advanced telescopes now.
Also suspended from on high is what looks like a massive off-white curtain. This is Jorge Otero-Pailos’ The Ethics of Dust, commissioned by Artangel in 2016 during renovations to Westminster Hall, the oldest existing building in the Houses of Parliament, The artist made a huge translucent latex cast of the east wall, capturing hundreds of years of surface pollution and dust to create a physical chronicle of the building’s life and a literal manifestation of what John Ruskin called ‘that golden stain of time’.
“The artist was interested in how this dust provides a trace of all those people who walked through the hall which became trapped in the fabric of the wall along with their voices,” says the curator. The original installation on view in Westminster Hall was divided in six and Museums Sheffield acquired one of the pieces.
We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted to Be is Ruth Ewan’s interpretation of the 10 hour, 100 minute, decimal clock introduced by Napoleon’s Republican government in an attempt to reorder the day,
There are two films. Inertial Frame, made by Sheffield-based artist Ruth Levene during a residency in Finland, documents the twilight horizon during the dark winter months. Filmed from a ferry, the fading light counteracts our sense of distance and all movement seems to slow to an almost unnoticeable speed.
The other, James Nares’ Pendulum (1976), shot in black-and-white Super 8, follows a wrecking ball swinging slowly back and forth down an alley in TriBeCa, New York.
For Sheffield's Andrew Hunt, our histories can be found in our faces. Two large photorealist portraits made as part of his series, Portraits from the Markets, depict 94 year old Ivy alongside Nathaniel, a young boy whose life is in front of him. Black and white photographs by Berris Connolly taken in 1989 and 2019 from bridges on the River Don can be compared side by side.
The Time is Now continues until January 20.