about It's About Time
Update May 2013: After two incarnations in the Renew Newcastle scheme – a workshop and gallery on the Mall, and an installation space as part of The Emporium – Karl has closed up shop to concentrate on re-building his health after a period of illness. He is still making beautiful clock sculptures (working on some cuckoo clocks) in his home studio. Keep in touch through Facebook.
It’s About Time is a gallery and workshop on Hunter Street displaying a unique collection of surreal clocks and sculptures painstakingly pieced together by artist Karl Claydon.
If time is of the essence, nowhere is it more visible than it is here. Twenty years is the time it took for Karl to fulfill his dream of running a gallery. A few weeks is the time invested in each piece selecting, positioning, gluing, assembling and painting to bring these richly layered visions to life. One hour, maybe two, is the time you might spend standing there, your eyes endlessly traveling from one detail to another, trying to absorb it all. A second is the time you’ll get lost between two ticks of the clock, an instant and an eternity.
We caught up with Karl to find out what makes him tick.
Hi Karl, how long have you been ‘making’ this kind of work?
I have been doing this ‘assemblage’ work for about 2 or 3 years but I have been making things my whole life. My father was a cabinetmaker and my mother was a seamstress. When I was a kid, I used to sit in Dad’s shed while he was working and I would use his scraps of timber to make my own projects – jewelry boxes, coffee tables, chairs…
What about the clocks? Where does that passion come from?
My mother says that I pulled apart my first clock when I was about 3 years old. Every time we went down the street, even as a kid, I would go into second-hand shops to buy clocks and tinker with them. I had a wall full of them in my house and I started adding artwork to them, first starting with skulls and bones, and then, all sorts of things: doll parts, hands, toys, castles, doilies … I like to mix things that don’t normally go together.
Why did you want to get involved with Renew Newcastle?
For the last 20 years, all I ever wanted to do was open a cafe-gallery so I guess I’m halfway there. There were always things holding me back but this year, I thought “what the hell!” and just went for it. It’s only been about 8 weeks so far but everybody that comes in is blown away. I have had a few sales and a couple of commissions so we’ll see how it goes.
Where do you find your toys?
Everywhere. Mostly garage sales. I have been using a lot of farm animals – chicken, roosters – but I am finding them harder to get for some reason. You just can’t buy them anymore. At least, I can always find dinosaurs.
Every kid has a dinosaur phase.
It’s true. I’m not sure what the connection is with kids and dinosaurs.
I think that maybe it’s because they were real, they actually existed but it seems so impossible to imagine…
Yeah, especially with a human body…
And a skirt! (laughs)