Momentous installation turns Leeds Civic Hall into Potts clock celebration by residents

By Culture24 Reporter | 27 September 2013

A vast, animated mechanical clock, wound by the public on a series of large cogs, will turn Leeds' Civic Hall into a public artwork broadcasting footage of thousands of local residents for three nights.

A photo of a group of people posing for a camera in front of a green screen
Leeds folk are taking over the city's civic hall© Illuminos
Momentous is the brainchild of brothers Matt and Rob Vale. Inspired by William Potts, a 19th century clockmaker from Leeds whose contraptions shipped to the world, the pair have spent the summer filming nurses, dancers, students, rugby players and more. Hours of film will be condensed into loops lasting seconds.

“We’re bringing the technical craftsmanship of clock-making and automata into the digital era,” says Matt.

“We are creating a piece which captures the people of the city and what makes them tick.

“Uniquely, members of the public will be able to experience it. They can even control this interactive piece over the three nights.”

The cogs are Wi-Fi enabled, triggering weights and balances which will rise to a chiming crescendo every 15 minutes in a composition of industrial sounds by Matt and live recordings from Opera North’s current Benjamin Britten season.

“Potts Clocks were a fantastic Leeds company,” says Lucinda Yeadon, a local councillor in the city where an accompanying exhibition, running at Armley Mills until next autumn, will also showcase memorabilia from the family, including 25 original pieces drawn from across the world.

“They made these beautiful, impressive clocks which were, and still are, on show all over the world.

“The response to Momentous has been incredible.

“It is an ambitious piece that will connect the people of Leeds with the history of the city in an imaginative way, and create lasting memories for everyone who experiences it.”

A Walk-it map provided at the town hall, library, museum and visitor centre will allow visitors to tour working Potts numbers around the city centre.

  • Momentous takes place October 3-5, 7.30pm-10.30pm. Light Night Leeds takes place October 4, 5pm-late.

More photos:

A photo of a civic building lit up at night on a square in a city centre
© Illuminos

A photo of a colourful design for a large civic building
© Illuminos
A photo of a group of people posing for a camera in front of a green screen
© Illuminos

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