Corpus Clock Cambridge

All you need to know!

The unique Corpus Clock of Cambridge

The Corpus Clock is one of the most distinctive public monuments in Cambridge, that catches both local and tourists’ attention. Such a peculiar piece of art is as delightful as it is intriguing. However, this unusual clock does more than tell the time, there’s an in-depth concept behind it’s creation. Therefore, in our opinion it is worth spending some time observing its details. It is these details that unveils the hidden messages about time and the diverse ways we tend to perceive it.

The Corpus Clock is one of John C Taylor’s masterpieces (together with his great development of the cordless kettle.) The Corpus Clock took him about 7 years to build, and it was actually inaugurated around September 2008. Although John C Taylor predicted the clock to last for the next 250 years, the clock has stopped working three times already. The creation of this distinctive monument was offered to Corpus Christi College, and was John C. Taylor’s alma mater, when he was studying at Cambridge University.

Whats more, the unveiling ceremony gathered lots of local and social media coverage, not only because this unique piece was being unveiled, but because of the person who was invited to unveil it. Professor Stephen Hawking. Evidently, he was the one chosen to unveil this must-see attraction, since its’ gold circle is meant to represent the burst of the universe, the Big Bang theory, which was Hawking’s specific subject of his studies.

Looking at the main circle the reason for the pure gold appearance is to represent the radiating ripples alluding to the Big Bang. Whereas the shape represents the beginning of time over the form of a central impact that spreads into a domino effect.

The time and the different ways we perceive it.

The element that is responsible for representing the time are the blue led lights. However, the time on the clock is only right every 5 minutes, since the clock’s speed is often different to that of GMT. In other words, this works as a metaphor to make us understand the different ways we perceive time.  Although at first sight it might seem hard to tell the time, in reality it isn’t as hard as it appears to be. Therefore, when looking carefully, there are 3 rings of LEDs that shows the hours, minutes and seconds.

In spite of not always being accurate, Taylor insists that neither is life. So, to make sense of his own interpretation, the pendulum is an element that tends to stick or even stop, whereas the lights tend to lag and then hurry to catch up. As if this wasn’t enough to make us reflect about our time and how we make use of it, there’s another specific meaning hidden behind the occasional blink of the Grasshopper, as a metaphor of the enjoyable way he ‘consumes’ the time.

The Corpus Clock’s Chronophage

And just in case you might have wondered; the animal on top of the clock is a Grasshopper. Or as the local students call it: Rosalind, the Hopsy. In fact, this animal is actually a Chronophage, which is greek to ‘time-eater’, an animal which is literally ‘walking’ forward devouring each second as it passes. Once again corroborating with John C. Taylor metaphor of the consumption of time. Making us aware that a moment once lived is now a moment once gone. There’s only one way to go, and that’s forward.

When an hour is struck there is no chiming of bells, but rather the shaking of chains and a hammer hitting the coffin. Again, as a metaphor that time will pass and eventually we will all die. So it is highly important to fully live the present, seizing every moment. Undoubtedly time flies away, the only thing that really matters is how we make the most out of each moment.

Lastly, the Latin inscription underneath the clock, is a clear example of this idea. For instance ‘mundus transit et concupiscentia eius’, meaning that life, the world, the desires and the luxury will clearly pass away. Therefore, the time is now!

Posted on February 20th, 2020, by the Traditional Punting Company