John C Taylor to unveil new Dragon Chronophage


Inventor John C Taylor is set to wow the Chinese market with a new version of his Chronophage time sculpture, the Dragon Chronophage.

He will unveil the model at the Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair on September 7. The piece is a follow-up to the Midsummer Chronophage Taylor showcased a Salon QP at the Saatchi Gallery in November last year.


The piece has been designed by Taylor to celebrate the Chinese Year of The Dragon, and is said to be “a remarkable mixture of contemporary design, precision engineering and engaging whimsy”.

The sculpture, which uses a large clock movement, combines traditional horology with mechanical innovation and vast size.

Taylor’s Dragon feature required a team of eight specialist designers from Cambridge University to help build it, along with Taylor’s own team based on the Isle of Man. It took 18 months to complete from design to construction and finishing.

Its tongue extends on the hour and out rolls a pearl – a Chinese symbol of good fortune. Upon closing its mouth and swallowing the pearl, it causes a ripple down its spine all the way to its tail.

Dr John C Taylor created the concept of the Chronophage as a personal homage to John Harrison, the creator of the “grasshopper” marine chronometers and the most accurate clock in the world.

Taylor decided to turn this grasshopper escapement inside out, so that the mechanism could be seen working, and to increase its size from 35mm to become the world’s largest grasshopper escapement.

Taylor said: “I would say only 1% of people have heard of John Harrison, one of the greatest Englishmen that ever lived, and of these, only 1% would know about the grasshopper escapement.

“As most people don’t know how it works, I decided to make it big and put it on the outside as a celebration of Harrison’s genius.”

The Chronophage takes its name from the Greek for “time eater”. The Dragon Chronophage’s distinguishing feature is a moving dragon which houses the grasshopper escapement and sits above it appearing to walk forwards to feed itself by eating time. The design of the creature is an Anglo-Chinese co-operation based on sculpture produced by Professor Long of Hangzhou Art University.

Taylor has made a limited run of the Dragon Chronophage. It will be for sale at the art fair in Shanghai.


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