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City gears up for 'Momentous' transformation of Leeds Civic Hall into captivating, mechanical clock
Momentous Leeds. Photo: © Kippa Matthews.

LEEDS.- The cogs are in motion as the countdown begins to the unveiling of ‘Momentous’, a large-scale projection that will transform the façade of Leeds Civic Hall into a temporary public artwork, featuring more than 1,200 people from Leeds.

Film footage of people gathered this summer at events across the city will be made into clockwork figures by Illuminos artists Matt and Rob Vale, as part of a vast animated mechanical clock that will spring to life over three nights from 3-5 October 2013 between 7:30pm and 10:30pm, forming a centrepiece of the city’s ‘Light Night’ celebrations on 4th October.

The project, commissioned by Leeds Inspired, part of Leeds City Council, builds on the rich history of renowned Leeds clockmaker William Potts. Over the summer, Matt and Rob – who specialise in creating dramatic artworks in vastly diverse spaces – have worked alongside Leeds Inspired to film local people across the city. The footage includes a great range of Leeds folk: from nurses and rugby players, dancers and students, to children on go-karts. The duo, who are brothers, will now edit hours of film into hundreds of 20-30 second loops of animation to create a visual spectacle.

Members of the public will be able to ‘wind’ the magical, mechanical clock by hand thanks to a series of large cogs which will sit in front of the building on Millennium Square. The Wi-Fi enabled cogs will trigger the weights and balances projected onto the columns of the Civic Hall, which will rise upward in preparation for the quarter hour chime.

Artist Matt Vale commented: “We’re bringing the technical craftsmanship of clock-making and automata into the digital era and 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 and even control this interactive piece over three nights in October.”

The colourful visual piece will be accompanied by a new soundscape which combines the daily hum of the city, from bell-ringers at Leeds Cathedral to the mechanical whirring and clangs of machinery at Armley Mills, with a new melodic composition by Matt Vale. Each hour, the animation and audio pieces will build in a crescendo of sight and sound, to mark the quarter hour milestone and culminate in hourly chimes, including live recordings from Opera North’s current Benjamin Britten season.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council Executive Member For Leisure And Skills: “The response to ‘Momentous’ has been incredible. Potts Clocks were a fantastic Leeds company who made these beautiful, impressive clocks which were, and still are, on show all over the world. 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.”

There is also a series of supporting activities which celebrate the heritage of Potts Clocks:

An exhibition of memorabilia from the Potts family, will be on show to the public for the first time. The exhibition at Armley Mills, which runs from 5 October 2013 until September 2014, will feature more than 25 original Potts pieces from around the globe.

Locals and visitors will be able to take a tour of working Potts Clocks in Leeds city centre thanks to a new ‘Walk-it’ map which will be available from selected venues including the Town Hall, Leeds Visitor Centre, Leeds Central Library and Leeds City Museum.

Children and young people can also learn the art of automata leading up to ‘Momentous’ at a series of free workshops hosted by SCRAP, a social enterprise based in Leeds which uses waste materials from businesses as resources for art and play.

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