Rare glimpse of times past at clock exhibition

Rare glimpse of times past at clock exhibition

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CLASSICS – The late David Roche at home in Fermoy.

CLASSICS – The late David Roche at home in Fermoy.

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AN obsession with time has led to a new exhibition at The David Roche Collection in Adelaide.

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AN obsession with time has led to a new exhibition at The David Roche Collection in Adelaide.

Devoted collector Roche had a passion for timepieces, and 34 exquisite French and English clocks, dating from the late 17th century to the early 20th century, is on display in this special exhibition.

Imperial & Royal Clocks: Romantic & Scientific is the first time these rare and opulent clocks have been on public display together.

Roche left his entire collection of more than 3500 decorative arts exhibits to the people of Adelaide. During his long life, he had been immersed in the intricacies of clocks for their decorative appeal.

Collection museum director Martyn Cook said Roche focused his collection on the French Empire and the Regency period in England.

“When David acquired an item for his collection, he had in mind exactly where it should be placed in his home – it was no different with his clocks,” Mr Cook said.

“David called Fermoy House – the house in which he spent most of his life – Australia’s Bermuda Triangle for clocks because very few worked for more than two weeks, largely through movement in the ground which made it unstable for the clocks. Though it annoyed David intensely, he learnt to live with it.”

Included in the exhibition is the rare automata smoking African clock from the Johnston Collection, plus loans of a Henry Hindley Table clock (circa 1760-65) made for the eighth Duke of Norfolk and a very rare John Shelton floor-standing regulator.

Shelton made this type of astronomical clock for the Royal Society of London and Captain James Cook used Shelton’s regulators to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus in Tahiti.

“Two of David’s favourite clocks were the jewel-like Joseph Coteau mantel clock from 1796 and the Louis Moinet Prince of Hanover urn clock (c. 1810) from the Hanover estate at Schloss Marienburg, in Germany,” Mr Cook said.

The David Roche Foundation House Museum houses the world-class personal collection of Roche, who acquired his first antique item at age 17. The museum also incorporate Roche’s former home, Fermoy House, where he lived from 1954 until his death in 2013.

  • Imperial and Royal Clocks: Romantic & Scientific, until August 18, The David Roche Collection, 241 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide; free. Guided tours Tue-Sat, 10am, noon and 2pm; $20 adults, $17 conc. Phone (08) 8267-3677, rochefoundation.com.au
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