Issue 7 - 6 August 2013 enews home

Bright future for art lecturer’s time machine

By Patrick Nelson


Visual Arts lecturer Henry Smith and his award-winning Time Machine

The future is bright for a Charles Darwin University lecturer’s “time machine”, which picked up a major prize in Central Australia’s top art competition recently.

Visual Arts lecturer Henry Smith built his time machine in the 1970s but had kept it in storage for most of the past four decades before having it shipped to Alice Springs this year.

It won the “stories” category at the 35th annual Centralian Advocate Art Award recently, energising Mr Smith to consider displaying it in an exhibition next year.

Containing bits from an old bicycle and powered by a washing machine motor, the Time Machine is an interactive kinetic sculpture that was inspired partly by the Labor Government’s “It’s Time” slogan, which helped Gough Whitlam win the 1972 Federal election.

One can engage the machine by placing pressure on a foot switch, which will start a motor that causes a toilet roll to unravel. A small synchronised ink press prints the word “time” just before each sheet of toilet paper falls to the floor.

“It’s whimsical in design and a light-hearted comment on the past, present, future and a few other things that were happening then,” Mr Smith said.

“I was pleased to see that it was warmly received by a lot of people on opening night.”

Mr Smith said he had three other kinetic sculptures that he planned to exhibit when time permitted.

“I have a ‘smile machine’, which has also been in boxes for many years and a ‘tension machine’, which I still need to finish.”

Mr Smith said the visual arts classes keep him busy so the exhibition won’t happen until next year.