If you wander around the side streets behind Liverpool Street station during the daytime, you might stumble upon what looks like a large metal disc as a work of art.
If you do, then you need to come back when it’s dark because the metal disc is an illuminated clock that comes alive at night.
This is The Restless Course, a timepiece by Pritchard Themis that was added to the building in 2018 when it was being refurbished.
The name comes from a line in Christopher Marlow’s 1592/3 play, Doctor Faustus:
Now, Mephistopheles, the restless course
That Time doth run with calm and silent foot,
Shortening my days and thread of vital life,
Calls for the payment of my latest years:
Therefore, sweet Mephistopheles, let us
Make haste to Wertenberg.
It’s a reference to the moment that Faustus realises that his own time is running short as he rereads the contract that he signed 24 years earlier with the demon, Mephistopheles
The clock though isn’t demonic, save when the ever-changing colours of the dial glow red, but a wonderfully beautiful work of art. Standing back a bit it seems as if the metal bands are themselves glowing with filaments, but that’s the reflection of the light on the peened finished steel.
Created by Phi Lighting, the clock does work, albeit hardly visibly during the daytime as plain white lighting, but at night, the dial cycles through several colours over a period of about 5 minutes, from blues to greens, yellows and of course, Mephistopheles red.
If I were to be critical, it’s not instantly obviously a clock as the lit-up hands aren’t massively noticable, especially when the dial glow is yellow — but that’s part of the charm of it – the moment of realisation when you uncover its function.
It’s also a work of art that’s not overly obvious because it only comes into its own at night and situated on a very quiet side street that few walk down when the offices are shut, it’s something to seek out.
It’s on the corner of Clifton Street and Scrutton Street.
Oh, and umm, for those of you who want, it gives a nice halo effect for the selfies. But do you go for angelic blue or demonic red for your selfie?