The Timekeeper

Drogheda, Co. Louth

‘The Timekeeper’ Sundial Sculpture

Commissioned under the Per Cent for Art scheme to create a sculpture for a secondary school in Drogheda Co. Louth. The brief was to create a piece to commemorate the transition of the school from its humble beginnings into the new extensive extension, the sculpture is based on the subject of the movement of time.

Our history traced through stone.

The permanence of stone means that much of what we know about our past has been discovered through examining the stone structures left behind by our ancestors, from structures and sites of worship to the dry stone walls that map out the history of the vernacular landscape of our countryside.  In the Drogheda area alone, more than 5000 years of history can be read through the many stone structures  that cover the landscape here, spanning from the Neolithic site of  Newgrange to the Norman beginnings of the town itself.  This Norman heritage is evident  in the earliest monument in the town which is the motte-and-bailey castle, now known as Millmount Fort.

‘The Timekeeper’ sculpture pays tribute to this movement of time, recorded through stone.

From a distance the large vertical blocks of sandstone take on the appearance of a Neolithic structure. As you approach, the sundial element of the sculpture becomes apparent.

The large angled stone in the centre (gnomon) is angled parallel to the earth’s axis, paying tribute to the first gnomon style sundials invented in the late 1300’s. The bars of engineered limestone in the floor along with the relief carvings of cogs and wheels in the standing stones represent modern time.

The precision of the limestone markers highlights the slight fluctuation in the accuracy of the shadows cast by the Neolithic gnomon as the seasons change. This in turn highlights the contrast between the rudimentary time mapping of the neoliths with the sophisticated precision of modern engineered time. The piece of white quartzite built into the base of the gnomon links back to the white quartzite facade of the nearby prehistoric site of Newgrange.

The stone seating area in the courtyard between the old and new buildings is an extension of the sculpture, with the time capsule placed under the stone mosaic in the floor, a symbol of the school’s confidence in its future.

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