Taking the Time comes to Wellington Square this month

Taking the Time is a new exhibit created with 1,440 people in Stockton that is coming to Wellington Square in May 2021. Commissioned by ARC, the new exhibit explores how 1,440 people in Stockton and the surrounding area answered two questions:

  • What specific clock time is important to you?

  • Why is it important?

Gillian Lees and Adam Gregory, the artists behind the piece visited Stockton in 2019 and collected 1,440 answers to these questions. All 1,440 times and and the reasons they were important were submitted by the public, ready for the exhibit which should have taken place in 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adam Gregory, one of the creators of Taking the Time, said:

“We were supposed to install Taking the Time over a year ago – actually 587,520 minutes if you’re counting! Gillian and I see Taking the Time as a celebration of how time moves us and how we spend our time, but it’s also a celebration of the people involved and the times that mean something to them.”

“We were made so welcome by the people in Stockton and by ARC (who commissioned us to make it) and we can’t wait to get started.”

Now the project can finally go ahead artists Gillian and Adam will work without rest for a full 24 hours from 12pm on Wednesday 26 May and during this time they will set the alarms on, and place 1,440 digital watches in an empty retail unit in Wellington Square, Stockton, one at a time.

The alarm on each watch will be set to a time donated by somebody with a connection to Stockton. Each representing a time of special significance to the person who donated it. Each watch represents an answer to the question: ‘What clock time is important to you; and why is it important?

The reasons people chose their times included a nurse who talked about why she works nights:

“I’m a nurse and I work for the NHS. I often do night shifts because I earn more money. It’s a tough one. Nighttime makes people miss their loved ones when they’re at their most vulnerable. It’s often social care more than medical care at this time of the night. Reassuring, hand holding, hair stroking. I wouldn’t change it for the world; being there for people when they have no one else.”

Some times of the day were chosen by multiple people with the reasons given highlighting how different our relationships with the same time of the day can be.

“That feeling you get when you wake up earlier than your alarm, check the time, and realise you still have at least an hour left in bed before having to get up. Bliss.” Was one person’s thoughts on the time 5am, while another had this to say:

“If I have to watch one more episode of Peppa Pig this morning I might start to fray at the seams”.

Members of the public can visit the space and see Gillian and Adam place the watches and can join them for as little or as long as they’d like, even if they can only spare a minute.

A record of the times donated, and the reasons people chose them as significant will also be on display.

From 12pm on Thursday 27 May – 12pm on Friday 28 May the watches will be on display in the space. Each alarm will go off at its set time creating a monument that moves between silence and chorus to the rhythms of the town and its residents.

Visitors to Wellington Square will be able to drop in to the space and listen as the space shifts between sound and silence reflecting the times most important to the people of Stockton.

Chantal Taylor, Marketing Manager at Wellington Square, said:

“We can’t wait to work with ARC and the talented team of Gillian and Adam to bring Taking the Time to Wellington Square. This amazing work will help us maximise the shopping experience for our customers while being involved with and supporting our local community.”

“We love bringing art and culture to the shopping centre. In just the past six months we have welcomed a pop-up art gallery, launched new public artwork on our bridges, and hosted a light-up art trail!”