Letters from Assynt The Journal of anOrdain
Issue One: â€ŠAutumn 2020
MAPPING THE HIGHLANDS
MEET THE MAKER
LEARNT IN LOCKDOWN
Exploring the history of the Ordnance Survey
Morna Darling: Jeweller and anOrdain enameller
Hydroponics and hatching at home
Assynt is the spiritual home of anOrdain. Situated in the north-west of Scotland, it is the region – or parish – in which Loch an Ordain sits nestled within the wilds of the Highlands and is where our watches were first conceived. Famed for its natural and rugged beauty, Assynt offers an escape from the complexities of modern living and a place to contemplate the simple wonders of nature. It has a long and fascinating history and, here at anOrdain, we feel it echoes the values expressed in our watches’ beautiful dials, unique craftsmanship and reliable movements. The purpose of our ‘letters’ is to keep you up-to-date with our development as a company. They will cover everything, from different areas of horology to features exploring subjects that we, as a team of artisan watchmakers based in the west of Scotland, hold dear to our hearts. While there are many publications entitled Letters From..., the choice for our title drew particular influence from W H Auden and Louis MacNeice’s 1937 travel book, Letters from Iceland. In the summer of 1936, the poets travelled to the remote Nordic country to escape the turmoils of mainland Europe and seek solace in the pastoral Icelandic landscape. Assynt – sometimes described as Europe’s last wilderness – echoes Iceland in its untamed, yet comforting beauty and remains a place of refuge during turbulent times. COVER IMAGE PAUL HEMPSTEAD
There’s always a lot going on here at anOrdain but, in 2020, we didn’t just have plans – we had plane tickets and accommodation. By May, we were going on the road. Journeying from San Francisco to Basel, our travels would end on Madison Avenue with a fortnight’s residency in The Armoury. Summer would see the developments from the studio come to fruition as new products. It was going to be a good year. However, here we are at the end of August and instead of New York, I’m sleeping in a tent 150 miles from Glasgow, visiting shielding family. It certainly isn’t the 2020 any of us foresaw. We had always liked the idea of making a magazine and our approach with anOrdain has been to welcome our customers into the company as much as possible. So, with the extra time afforded us by the impacts of Covid, we began to think. It seemed a magazine would be the perfect way to continue to open up the inner-workings of the company – and to keep the graphic designers happy, of course! To make this publication a reality, we welcome a new team member – editor, Hannah Forsyth. Poached from the same cafe as Erlend, Hannah was originally brought in to cover customer care when we went on the road. Of course, that never happened, but it turns out she’s a talented journalist with a great tolerance for working with people she’s only ever met through Zoom! The magazine is very much a work in progress, so please do let us know what you think – it’ll help us get the balance right in future. Best wishes,
Lewis Heath, Founder
5 – 6 News Updates from the studio. 7 – 10 Meet the Maker The faces behind the watches. This issue we talk to Morna Darling, one of anOrdain’s talented enamellers.
11 – 12 A Leap of Faith A snapshot into the salmon’s mysterious lifecycle. 13 – 16 Mapping the Highlands A history of the Ordnance Survey and its links to the Scottish Highlands.
17 – 24 Photo Essay Reflecting on ghostly lockdown landscapes.
26 – 28 Speaking Louder Than Words The subtle power of typography. 29 – 30 Illustrated Guide Pendulum clocks.
31 – 32 About Time Cinema and our fascination with the ticking clock. 33 – 34 Food for Thought Talking you through tattie scones.
35 – 37 Lessons from Lockdown Cured meat, floating plants and a curiously friendly goose.
anOrdain X Paulin
Collaboration between two watch companies is a rare occurrence, but perhaps even rarer is the two founders of said companies being married to one another! We had played with the idea of anOrdain designing and making a watch for Paulin for some time now, but only recently did we set our plans to action. The brief was to make something which was not mass-produced and that would encapsulate what we love about mechanical watches, all the while keeping it at an accessible price. We looked at Paulin’s market, examining the swathes of minimalist watches out there and decided to take our collaborative watch in a different direction. Paulin’s approach to design has always been distinctly fun and colourful, producing watches, clocks and accessories for many years now, building a loyal following amongst the creative scene in Glasgow.
Paulin had previously taken inspiration from artdeco for the ‘Geo’ font used on their recent models, so we began research examining different art and architecture movements. We landed on Postmodernism, as a move away from austerity. The playful juxtaposition of old and new seemed to resonate with both Paulin’s ethos and our own. During the research and design process, Imogen took inspiration from Dutch graphic designer, Wim Crouwel. Crouwel, though categorised as a Modernist, had a truly unique approach to design which revolved around a purist use of grids, but the results of which were far from stark or restrained minimalism. Using a similarly purist grid and set of rules, Imogen created a typeface and a set of hands that played off this blockiness and simple use of shape.
NEWS In order to accommodate our smaller budget, we made a few clever design decisions. Using the Seiko NH35A – a good value, if rather beefy, Japanese movement – we chose not to encase it within a 15mm thick outer body, but instead created a slim profile, adding a Hesalite diving crystal on top to make the watch wear significantly thinner. Making the dial was the tricky part. We couldn’t spend days enamelling each one, so we teamed up with two local companies. A machining firm, based just outside of Glasgow, laser-cut and anodized our chosen aluminium, while Helen Swan, an artist based in the city’s West End, individually dyed each anodized piece. The team here at anOrdain then continued to print and assemble the dials. The end product is very much a hand-made mechanical watch, with the constraints of the brief and creativity of the team have resulted in something really quite special.
New Stockist We are delighted to announce that our Model 1 watch is now available to purchase from MoMA Design Store in New York. Featuring our classic ‘vitreous enamel’ print, the Model 1 is available in Iron Cream, Parisian Blue, Post Office Red, Pink and Teal, with a select choice of leather straps. MoMA Design Store has long been a champion of good, modern design and so we are absolutely thrilled to be included in their Fall assortment. Find them in-store and online at store.moma.org Midtown, 44 West 53rd Street, New York Soho, 81 Spring Street, New York
MEET THE TEAM
M â€Š orna Darling
Get to know the faces behind the watches of anOrdain. For our first issue, we talk to talented jeweller and enameller, Morna Darling.
MEET THE TEAM
Hi Morna! Tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re from? I am originally from Edinburgh but have lived in Glasgow for 10 years. I came to study at the Glasgow School of Art and never left! It’s great to live in a city like Glasgow which has so many galleries and museums and yet is so close to the beautiful countryside. I love being outdoors, hillwalking and taking trips to the beach with my dog Ari, so it’s perfect! When did you join the anOrdain team? I started in April 2018, which was a few months before we launched our first model. It was a bit like being put in at the deep end, having never enamelled watch dials before, but it was very exciting to be a part of. What attracted you to work with anOrdain? Our first enameller Adam Henderson, who I studied with at GSA, introduced me to the company. It was so exciting to have a business in Glasgow that utilised some of the skills we had learned at university. Lewis creates a fantastic environment to work in and it was exciting to have the opportunity to develop these skills further. It’s great to see how the team has grown since I first started. Where did your interest in jewellery making stem from? Do you remember any early influences or have any prominent memories that particularly inspired you? I love drawing and making things and always have. I’m very fortunate that my parents like to go to galleries and have an appreciation for craft. Growing up in Edinburgh meant that we could visit the Festival every year. We would visit Dazzle, which is a yearly exhibition of contemporary jewellery. Learning that people actually did this for a living was a very exciting prospect. You are one of anOrdain’s very talented enamellers! What was it that first appealed to you about working with the material? The vast arrays of colours available! There are also so many different enamelling techniques and they can have so many different outcomes. You practised jewellery enamel before starting an anOrdain. Was that something that you had explored during your time at GSA, or did you acquaint yourself with the practice later on? I had a brief introduction to enamelling at university, but I didn’t pursue it at the time. I love using colour in my own jewellery and, initially, I worked with different plastics and metal patination techniques, which eventually led to me experimenting with enamel. Before working for anOrdain I worked freelance for other jewellers including Caroline Finlay, who is a very experienced enameller. Her advice and encouragement cemented my love for the material.
MEET THE TEAM I’ve been told that your favourite enamelling method is Cloisonné... What is it about this method that particularly appeals to you? Cloisonné is a technique that uses thin wires to separate areas of enamel colour. It can be a time-consuming process, bending and shaping the fiddly wires to your design. However, it is very satisfying to have the control of placing each colour specifically where you want it when you add the enamel. The wires create such a beautiful line drawing on your piece. Amazing! What would you say is the best part of your job? The best part is definitely working with an incredibly talented team. We solve so many problems by talking things through with each other and patiently trying different solutions. I also just love coming into work and being able to make things with my hands using skills that I have learnt over the years. What would you say is the biggest challenge? Learning that things will and do go wrong. It can be incredibly frustrating when you spend a day – or even two! – on a dial and it doesn’t work out. However, this probably makes the successful dials feel even more of an achievement! Sometimes good things can come from things not always going to plan though... Yes! The fumé dials were a bit of an accident in that they were originally inspired by a dial I made that went quite wrong, during our first attempt to enamel on silver. The dial warped so badly it became a dome! When we sanded it back to its final finish, there was a lot less enamel in the middle, creating the fumé’s gradient effect. It was very much a team effort to work out how we could reliably and effectively produce it again. For those of us who have never done so, are there any things you must never do when working with enamel? The process can be quite scientific, especially when enamelling watch dials, so there is a whole list of dos and don’ts. However, a simple rule is to stay by the kiln when there’s something in it – you don’t want to forget about it! What would surprise people about working with enamel, if they don’t know anything about it? I think just the vast array of methods and outcomes that applying glass to metal can achieve might be surprising. But, on a more practical level, perhaps that it can take as little as a minute in the kiln to do it. Follow Morna on Instagram at @mornadarlingjewellery and find her online at mornadarlingjewellery.com
MEET THE TEAM
10 One of Morna’s beautiful cloisonné enamelled dials
“I love coming into work and being able to make things with my hands”
As we continue to exist in a world of unprecedented change, comfort is found in that which remains constant. The salmon’s lifecycle is one such thing, running suitably like clockwork and providing us with a tale that is both mysterious and wonderful. ILLUSTRATIONS HAZEL DUNN
When I began research for this article, I texted an old friend. Her boyfriend, an avid fisherman with an unrivalled passion for the creatures, would surely have some interesting knowledge tucked inside his waders. I was not to be disappointed. Shortly after, my phone buzzed. ‘You are looking for fishy facts’ the message read. Well, yes, yes I was... and I was already hooked. I asked him to tell me some basic titbits about salmon, but it turns out there are no ‘titbits’ about these fish, just swathes of fascinating and intriguing details. What really grabbed my attention, however, was their migratory pattern.
The salmon has established an almost poetic identity for itself, its struggle upstream the iconography for unrivalled perseverance and determination. Scotland is home to the Atlantic salmon and boasts over 400 salmon rivers across its landscape. Their magnificent leaps through cascading waterfalls are perhaps the images most synonymous with the species, as they battle ferociously against relentless currents. This depiction is so intrinsically linked with the fish, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these waterways are where they thrive. The reality, however, couldn’t be more different.
Salmon are anadromous, meaning they are one of the few fish that can live in both fresh and saltwater. They begin their lives in pits within river beds, dug by the mature females, called ‘redds’. From here, young salmon can live in the river for up to three years, feeding on small invertebrates and freshwater fish. When they reach approximately 12cm, however, the juvenile fish undergo a drastic physiological change, allowing them to survive at sea. They are now in the ‘smolt’ stage of their development and are ready to begin their journey downstream. One symptom of this change is a drastic heightening of the salmon’s senses, particularly their sense of smell, meaning that odours from their surroundings become stored in the brain, creating what is known as a smell memory. This smell memory is one of the factors that helps salmon navigate their way back to their natal river after years away at sea. But – and this is the wonderful and mysterious part – wild salmon will always find their way back to their natal river. Atlantic salmon travel as far away as Greenland and the Faroe Isles, often for years at a time, yet somehow they always return. Little is known about how this happens, but a study by Oregon State University conducted in 2013 found that the Earth’s magnetism plays an important role. While studying the return of Pacific salmon to the Fraser River in British Columbia, they noticed that the salmon’s chosen route unfailingly aligned with the ‘drift’ of the Earth’s magnetic field. Atlantic salmon are believed to navigate home in a similar fashion, imprinting on the Earth’s magnetic field at the mouth of their natal river, before setting out to sea. Here is where their journey becomes poetic. Salmon return to their natal river to spawn the next fishy generation but, upon their arrival, there is no hero’s welcome. Instead, with new life, comes death. As they begin their journey upstream to begin spawning, the salmon effectively start to perish. Mature salmon do not feed in freshwater. Instead, they nourish at sea, gaining enough body mass to survive through spawning season. By the time they battle upstream, salmon can lose up to 40% of this mass and around 90% of Atlantic salmon die once spawning is complete. Such an act of sacrifice, accompanied by their mysterious navigational powers, only adds to the tragic heroism of the mighty salmon.
Mapping the Highlands
Ordnance Survey maps have long held a place in many of our hearts, but they also inspired the creation of anOrdain. Here we explore the Survey’s rich history and its somewhat turbulent ties to Scotland. IMAGE PAUL HEMPSTEAD
The Scottish Highlands breathe legend. The tall, rugged peaks, often wreathed in cloud and mist, offer an ominous majesty, provoking dropped jaws and widened eyes in attempts to absorb the vast and looming landscape. It is the land of myths and poems, songs and novels; of warring clans and resolute heroes – Bonnie Prince Charlie, Flora McDonald, Jamie Fraser. The Highlands compel curiosity amongst natives and foreigners alike. They are also where anOrdain began its journey. The idea for a watch company that could fuse contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship was first conceptualised during a visit to Loch an Ordain, a small lochan, 30 miles north of Ullapool. The Gaelic of ‘an Ordain’ renders to English as ‘the Ordnance’. Originally a military term for armaments and munitions, it found its way into everyday speech in the form of the Ordnance Survey. The combination of the area’s dazzling scenery and the loch’s evocative name prompted a renewed exploration of old Ordnance Survey maps of the area. The intricate detail on the vintage maps was impeccable and displayed precise and highlyskilled workmanship that is only achievable by hand. It was apparent that cartography combined the opposing elements of the hand-crafted and highly technical, much like the high-tech precision of watchmaking. Everything seemed to fall into place. Exuding heritage, Ordnance Survey maps have long held a place in the affections of the British Public. The small, glossy booklet, folded with origami-like precision, unfurls into a map of wing-span proportions. These maps are versatile tools as well, one moment the object of scrupulous examination,
only to transform moments later into make-shift umbrellas to shelter from the archetypal Great British Downpour (the maps have been coated in a waterproof wax precisely for this purpose since the 1930s). The Ordnance Survey revealed the secrets of the British landscape, nowhere more so than the forbidding Highlands of Scotland. Waterfalls, caves and glens have all been discovered with the assistance of the trusty Ordnance map. However, when the organisation was founded over 200 years ago, it served a very different purpose. Established in 1791, the Ordnance Survey took its name and purpose from the previously titled Board of Ordnance. Set up as a military body, the Ordnance Survey would be responsible for creating accurate maps of the British landscape. At the end of the 18th Century, as the French Revolution continued to rumble from across the Channel, fear mounted that the turmoil would spread to British soil. It was essential to have a firm grasp on the country’s landscape. However, despite its official establishment in the late 1700s, it is widely agreed that the Ordnance Survey’s roots can be traced back even further to the middle of the century. The Jacobite Uprising of 1745–1746 resulted in an overwhelming defeat for Prince Charles Stuart and his rebel force at the hands of the Hanoverian Army during the Battle of Culloden. In just 45 minutes, over 1,500 Jacobites would lose their lives. The wounded were then brutally slaughtered, giving rise to the Duke of Cumberland’s nickname, ‘The Butcher’.
The survivors fled to the hills, disappearing into the dense networks of mountains and glens of their homeland. The British Redcoats, unfamiliar with the territory and with only crudely drawn military maps at their disposal, were thwarted repeatedly by the impenetrable hills. Unable to pursue the remaining rebels, the King’s soldiers were embarrassed by the setback which painfully highlighted the necessity of a new and accurate mapping system. In 1747, approved by the Duke of Cumberland, Colonel David Watson hired a young Scottish surveyor, William Roy, to produce ‘The Military Survey of Scotland’. This would be the first governmentfunded, large-scale trigonometric map of the British landscape. It would also be the first map to use revised land measurements. Until this point, map reproduction involved copying the measurements of those that had come before, meaning the continuous repetition of old errors and inaccuracies. The commission would open up the Highlands, allowing better military surveillance of the area to take place and suppress any further Jacobite sentiment that may have been lurking within its hills. Roy finished his survey just eight years later. Its scope had widened to include the Scottish Lowlands in 1752 and, by 1755, the first military survey of mainland Scotland was complete. Although swiftly produced, Roy’s pursuit was not without its challenges. The wild Highland terrain often proved difficult to triangulate precisely. Roy often had to enter various minor features, such as streams and rivers, by eye. He also regularly experienced hostility from locals. Suspicious of anyone working for the King and government, doors slammed in Roy’s face as he attempted to find out the names of local landmarks. The Scottish weather also proved troublesome and the heavy measuring equipment cumbersome. Two military men were assigned to carry and utilise a measuring chain and one more was tasked with shouldering Roy’s theodolite, its legs spanning three feet in diameter.
Although not perfectly accurate, Roy’s map received contemporary applause for its skill and detail. Its influence would live on to prompt the formation of the Ordnance Survey almost forty years later as the nation’s first governmental mapping organisation. In the years that followed, revision of the nation’s maps became an increasing priority and, as technology and infrastructure improved, so too did mapping techniques. Each new map helped to lay the foundations of the next. Since its conception, the Ordnance Survey has facilitated cartographic innovation. As a result, it continues to exist as one of the most advanced mapping organisations in the world. These days, over 90% of the Ordnance Survey’s revenue comes from their online database, with over 20,000 changes entered daily, but their paper maps continue to shape the organisation’s identity. Although computerised cartography came into use during the 1950s, Ordnance Survey maps continue to provide visually rich and carefully crafted depictions of the British landscape. Their ancestry, however, truly lies in the Scottish Highlands. Roy’s ‘Military Map of Scotland’ permitted, for the first time, access to the isolated and dramatic landscape of the north and allowed us to familiarise ourselves with its majestic summits and sweeping glens. Without the Ordnance Survey, it would be all the harder to bag those Munros or swim and fish in local lochs. It remains a wonder and a feat of genius that the Ordnance Survey revealed so many of the nation’s routes – and that one of them led to the creation of anOrdain.
REPRODUCED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND
From top The Roy Military Survey of Scotland, 1747– 1 755. OS Maps one-inch to the mile maps of Scotland, 1st edition, 1856 – 1 891, surveyed 1872 – 1 873, published 1881. OS Maps one-inch ‘Popular’ outline edition, Scotland, 1921 – 1930, published 1930. All three maps above show Loch an Ordain and its surroundings, although the loch itself does not appear until the 1881 edition.
As autumn approaches and cities begin to regain their urban buzz, ghostly images of Kyoto and Taiyuan capture the strange juxtaposition of lockdown life â€“ an unnerving, yet somewhat peaceful existence within formerly bustling cities. Images David Yang.
24 p17 Usually a bustling waterfront, the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River lie empty in mid-February, two days before the passengers of the Diamond Princess disembark at a nearby port. p19 A deserted bike sits in the empty streets of Taiyuan, a city of four million people, in China’s Shanxi Province, one week after the country’s first official announcement of the virus. p21 Several weeks before the Japanese government orders lockdown, and two days before the arrival of the Diamond Princess cruise liner at a nearby port, residential streets of Kyoto already lie empty. p24 A lone cyclist takes to the empty streets of Kyoto, usually buzzing with city life.
Louder than Words
Typography on vintage Ordnance Survey maps first inspired the creation of anOrdain and influenced the entire design process of our first watch, the Model 1. Here we explore the power typography exerts on our daily lives, while often hiding in plain sight. ALL IMAGES ERIN BRADLEY-SCOTT
Erin Bradley-Scott is part of a growing community of contemporary signwriters, now in high demand as businesses revert to aesthetics honouring tradition and heritage. Saramago Café Bar in Glasgow is one such business, as pictured above.
Typography is a tool with a quiet yet undeniable power. It conveys sorrow, love, safety and danger and influences not only what we read but how we read. It can illuminate the stories of entire ages. It quite literally stares us in the face yet often its impact remains all but unnoticed. Imogen Ayres – anOrdain’s own typographer – explains that her craft’s visibility often depends on its function. She notes that ‘there is a time and a place for ‘invisible’ design, where the aim is functionality and legibility, and there is a time for design that shouts’. Over the past decade, however, these lines between loud and invisible design have become somewhat blurred. The 2010s witnessed minimalist design rise to the forefront of business branding. Marketing strategies that would usually demand bold, distinctive design became quietly simplified. In an article for online magazine The Outline, writer Rachel Hawley notes that ‘brands stripped of clutter and ornament felt trustworthy’. In a decade that
witnessed the cataclysmic rise of fake news, trustworthiness would prove to be an invaluable trait. However, Ayres notes that typographical trends ‘are thought of as moving with economic and societal changes’. As we enter a new decade already wrought with turmoil, the cold sterility of minimalist design, that came to saturate the 2010s, appears to suit us no longer. Instead, a retreat to the past is occurring that is reflected in our visual landscape and a wider, societal context. The days of stark, geometric sans-serif types seem to be passing and brands are returning to typefaces that have long been considered ‘traditional’. Hawley explores this trend by examining the re-emergence of Didot, a serif typeface that first appeared at the start of the 19th Century. She suggests that such types, with their somewhat decadent serifs, offer a sense of ‘luxury’ to consumers. As we continue to exist in these tumultuous times, perhaps these illustrious visuals are providing us with a subtle and much-needed comfort.
Balblair Distillery, Ross-shire, Scotland.
But as Ayres notes, typographical trends are indicative of wider social and economic moods. As we reflect on the impact on COVID-19, it is evident that a nostalgic affection has also blossomed on an individual level. Lockdown existence has seen an emphatic retreat to old comforts within households. Jigsaws, embroidery and bread-making have helped pass many a quarantined day. Communities, too, are thriving in ways that seemed only to exist in bygone days. A sunflower growing competition, for example, is taking place amongst neighbours on my street. As we find ways to cope with the dislocation caused by Covid-19, we have summoned the security of the past in our rediscovery of nostalgic pursuits. And just as individuals are drawing inspiration from the past, so too is the economy. A growing number of businesses are now adorned with hand-painted signs. Old city neighbourhoods are speckled with small hand-designed shop fronts, injecting communities with colour and character. It’s a phenomenon as visible in Glasgow and Edinburgh as in New York and Paris.
But these signs are indicative of something more than just a fresh lick of paint. The time and care inherent in their production suggest an investment and permanence in the neighbourhoods they inhabit. During these uncertain times, the stability that these qualities imply resonates firmly. We’re taking solace from the familiar in a world of unprecedented change. Hand-painted signs signal a shift away from the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of digital design and, as Ayres notes, the tiring speed of technology has ‘induced a nostalgic appreciation for the traditional’. This perhaps has never been more evident as it is just now, as months of quarantine have forced many of us to adopt a slower pace of life. Just as typography is capable of expressing love and sorrow, it also provides comfort, warmth and security; traits we search for during times of worry. If, as Ayres suggests, typographical trends reflect the mood of an era, its current return to tradition is symbolic of human nature’s response to crisis. We revert to type.
DESIGN A promotional A-board sign for Erinâ€™s own practice. The Orry Mill craft shop in Eaglesham, named after an old local cotton mill.
1 Cuckoo Clock Believed to originate from Bavaria, Germany, the cuckoo clock marks each hour by releasing a small toy bird from within it, making an audible cuckoo call. Before the cuckoo is released, a small hammer within the clock falls to hit a tiny gong.
2 Comtoise Long Case This weight-driven clock dates back to 17th Century France. Built on iron-strip frames, the Comtoise’s pendulum operates with a cranked crutch.
P endulum C locks ILLUSTRATION YANNICK SCOTT
5 Torsion Clock Also known as an ‘Anniversary Clock’ or ‘400-day Clock’, this glassdomed, ornamental clock can last up to a year without being rewound. Possessing three or four pendulum balls, it uses a rotary, rather than swinging, pendulum.
3 Banjo Clock Patented by American brothers Aaron and Simon Willard in 1802, although originally called an ‘Improved Timepiece’, it takes its name from its resemblance to the instrument. Falling out of fashion in the 1860s, these clocks nowadays are prized by collectors.
6 Lantern Clock Developed in England in the 17th Century, original models of these quirky clocks were renowned for their inaccuracies. The introduction of a ‘seconds pendulum’ in the 18th Century vastly improved the timepiece’s abilities.
4 Swedish Long Case Probably the most distinctive of freestanding clocks, it is also commonly known as the good old Grandfather clock. Dating back to around 1810, the Swedish Long Case is driven by a long swinging pendulum inside its elegantly carved wooden frame.
STANLEY KRAMER / U NITED ARTISTS / KO
Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 Western, High Noon.
About Time The ticking clock plot device is as old as time itself, adding tension and suspense to storylines and driving narratives forward. Here we explore why, in a world increasingly driven by deadlines, we still find the ticking clock quite so compelling.
OPINION In her book Stop the Clocks! Time and Narrative in Cinema, Helen Powell notes that filmmakers have experimented with the representation of time since cinema’s inception. Indeed, time and narrative appear to go hand in hand, the former often acting as a driving force for the latter. Birthdays, weddings, graduations, train and plane departures and ticking time bombs all embody deadlines that will make or break the protagonist’s existence. Clock faces make uncountable appearances within films, to which homage is paid in Christian Marclay’s 2010 work The Clock. But when time is already a dictating force within real-life, why do we, as an audience, seem unwaveringly fascinated with the fictionalised concept? Well, it seems it is cinema’s ability to manipulate time and how this is then perceived by an audience. Time and time again – if you’ll excuse the phrase – ‘malleable’ appears as the common denominator in articles exploring cinematic temporality. In his book Dreaming of Cinema: Spectatorship, Surrealism and the Age of Digital Media, Adam Lowenstein comments that cinema has the ability to turn ‘the everyday instruments on which we depend for measuring time into soft malleable forms rather than hard, precise ones’, while Robert P. Kolker notes in The Extraordinary Image: Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and the Reimagining of Cinema that ‘film makes time and space malleable.’ Powell also acknowledges that Hollywood creates the ‘perception of time as something fluid, malleable and sometimes even incomprehensible in the film–maker’s hands.’ What is a solid and unflinching regulator in everyday life becomes almost putty-like in cinema. The final ten seconds of a ticking timebomb can last as long as two minutes on-screen, as directors attempt to represent the simultaneity of life, while, in contrast, a ten-hour long-haul flight can be over within a single take. But Hollywood doesn’t only deconstruct time in conceptual terms, it also manipulates the timepieces themselves. From the palm-sweating image of Harold Lloyd dangling from a skyscraper’s clock hands in Safety Last! to the frantic and obsessive fixation on time-pieces in Fred Zinneman’s classic Western, High Noon, clocks become much more than just the teller of time – they become plot, character, setting. Indeed, in High Noon, a film famous for its narrative playing out in real-time, Zinneman noted that ‘the element of time is an actor, an enemy.’ He states that the ‘steadily ticking clocks’ pose one of two ‘deadly threats’ within the movie, the other embodied by the railroad track. As former marshal Will Kane awaits the arrival of the old town villain,
Frank Miller, on the noon train, clocks dominate the film’s mise-en-scène from start to finish. They become the third character in this Western showdown and add to the tension that drives the plot forward. As time begins to run out, the clocks appear increasingly larger and faster on our screen, imposing on the audience just as the arrival of the noon train imposes on Kane. But when we, the audience, experience our own stresses and tensions in day-to-day life, why, then, are we so compelled by an on-screen countdown? Time in film acts as a signifier; something tangible within the narrative with which to relate. As we watch these movies unfold before our eyes, they are, more often than not, fantastical, dramatic narratives – and very unlikely to occur in real-life. Time anchors us to tales that, outwith the magical realm of Hollywood, would otherwise be impossible to believe. If a bedside clock shows 03:00, we know one of two things; that the character whose bed it sits by is unable to sleep, or that something potentially frightening is about to happen in the small hours of the night. If a protagonist achingly looks at his watch to find it is 10:58, we can assume he is late for an appointment at 11:00, and if the clocktower shows 10:02, we know that Marty only has two minutes left before the lightning strike can send him back to the future! These cinematic demonstrations of time, however, are arguably less about the stresses of the deadlines presented before us and more about the tantalising promise of action and resolution. From tales as old as Cinderella, we have been promised that by the twelfth stroke of the twelfth hour we will be granted our happy ending; a promise less guaranteed but often longed for from outside the darkened cinema screens. Unlike in real life, there is every likelihood that our cinematic heroes will board their plane, make it to their meetings, stop the ticking time bomb and save the world with two seconds to spare! Top Ten Films Featuring Clocks 1 High Noon, 1952, Fred Zinneman 2 Safety Last, 1923, Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor 3 The Big Clock, 1948, John Farrow 4 Hugo, 2011, Martin Scorsese 5 Metropolis, 1927, Fritz Lang 6 The Stranger, 1946, Orson Welles 7 Back to the Future, 1985, Robert Zemeckis 8 Pulp Fiction, 1994, Quentin Tarantino 9 Run Lola Run, 1999, Tom Tykwer 10 Great Expectations (series), 2011–2012, Brian Kirk
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Tattie Scones Enjoy anOrdain’s own, Erlend Firth’s recipe for tattie scones, a traditional Scottish must-have on any breakfast plate.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Last December when I visited my Grandmother, we poured over an heirloom cookbook and marvelled at the food of my forefathers. This book recorded history – both my grandmother’s handwriting and my great grandmother’s; inventive uses for entrails and magazine clippings for savoury jellies – each recipe hinted at the era. While there are a few dishes I doubt anyone will revisit in a hurry, this four-ingredient recipe for potato scones stands the test of time. The potato scone is essential in any cooked Scottish breakfast. Think full English, but with these fluffy quarter circles adding architecture to the plate, in addition to haggis and the most unnatural of meats, the ‘square sausage’. It might seem fussy to make this savoury scone from scratch when it forms just one small element of a cooked breakfast, but they are just as excellent on their own, with smoked salmon (as I serve them), or as a substitute to an English muffin in an eggs Benedict. The recipe in my Grandmother’s book was, at some point in history, dutifully transcribed from a Woman’s Rural Institute journal. In this spirit, I have copied the recipe verbatim, remedying the lack of specificity with my technique as an addendum. Potato Scones lb (225g) cold boiled potatoes ½ 2 oz (50g) flour ½ oz (15g) butter, salt Method 1 Mash the potatoes. 2 Melt the butter and mix with potatoes and salt. 3 Work in as much flour as the paste will take. 4 Roll out very thinly, cut into triangles and place on a hot girdle, pricking well with a fork. 5 Cook for 3 minutes on each side. 6 Can be served hot or cold. Addendum I used peeled Yukon Gold potatoes (their high starch content making them the perfect potato for mashing), combined with plain flour, unsalted butter and kosher salt. I divided this mixture in two, rolling each half into a 1cm high circle on a well-floured work surface, being careful not to let the mixture stick to the surface. I divided each circle into quarter rounds, yielding eight scones, and pricked each with a fork before placing in the smooth, un-oiled griddle pan. Once cooked for three minutes on each side, I spread the scones with a generous serving of butter and top them with smoked salmon and chives. Unconventional by most standards, but an utter treat. A note for readers: while to most, a hot girdle has no place in the kitchen, to the Scots and indeed the Irish, we know this to be a griddle pan with a handle which can be hooked over an open fire. WORDS BY ERLEND FIRTH
Lessons from Lockdown With elements of normalcy beginning to return to everyday life, anOrdain’s founder, Lewis Heath, reflects on the lessons the slower pace of life afforded him. ILLUSTRATIONS HAZEL DUNN
I tend to stumble upon a new subject and become quite obsessed with it, trying to learn everything I can before the enthusiasm inevitably starts to fade. For example, this winter, I took advantage of the temperature of my study at home remaining at a near-constant – and chilly – 12 degrees celcius; miserable to work in but, as luck would have it, perfect for fermenting meat. I built a contraption using pipes, fans, thermostats, hygrometers, bacteria imported from the Netherlands and, of course, kilos of slowly rotting pork. Examples of these obsessions fill the cupboards at home. While it tests the patience of those nearest to me (who are very tolerant, as you might have guessed), I do think these little adventures serve a purpose. I’m engaged constantly by the variety of work and challenges at anOrdain, but losing your-
self for a spell in a different field is a great way of coming back with renewed enthusiasm. With this in mind, I took some time over lockdown to learn about hydroponics. Hydroponics allows you to control the nutrients a plant gets and enables it to grow faster and yield more in comparison to growing with soil. In very simple terms, this is achieved by aerating nutrient-enriched water and applying it to the plant’s roots. I find the mechanics of growing with water fascinating. It’s perhaps the idea of designing something that creates very tangible (and edible!) results. I took over my mother-in-law’s greenhouse in April and here are two systems which I found work pretty well.
FEATURE BUBBLING This method works well for salads and spinach. Start by propagating the seeds in a little Rockwool cube. When the plant begins to produce its second set of leaves, place the cube into a floating polystyrene raft and it will grow from there. Two instruments are necessary for all hydroponics systems; a particle meter and a PH meter. The particle meter tells you how much food is in the water in a reading of PPM (Parts Per Million). It should be 400–800 (more is not better!), and there are lots of nutrients you can use – I opted for one called BioBiz. PH needs to be kept between 5.5 and 6.5 as a rough guide. You can adjust it by adding acid or alkali, but I found it stayed within that frame on its own.
FLOOD AND DRAIN A more adventurous system is the ‘Flood and Drain’, which is good for heavier plants like tomatoes or courgettes, or even tubulars, like Dahlias. The plant sits in a bucket of clay pebbles. These pebbles are flooded several times a day, for five minutes at a time, from a big tank controlled by a timer unit. The pebbles absorb the water before the roots take it. Clay pebbles are highly absorbent and release the nutrient-filled water over time, which means that you can flood your system regularly without overwatering or drowning the roots.
My parents are in a high-risk category for COVID. They live up in the Highlands in a beautiful spot between a beach and a campsite. Inevitably, tourists are always ending up in the garden or popping their head into the house. Before lockdown was declared, I worried theyâ€™d be at risk from passers-by and so I came to the only conclusion any right-thinking individual would; they needed a flock of guard-geese! In retrospect, I should have run this past them. However, I was swayed by the looks of the Sebastopol goose and chose to incubate four eggs from this friendly breed, sadly renowned for its high infertility rate.
A month later, only one hatched. The result was far from the fearsome winged protector responsible for alerting the Romans to the invading Gauls I had imagined it would be. Instead, the waddling ball of feathers follows me everywhere, devouring grass and plants as she goes.
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