Perrott’s Folly was built by an eccentric landowner, John Perrott in 1758, but why seems to be something of a mystery. The most likely explanation is that it was a hunting lodge for Perrott and his friends to use – a very elaborate one at that. Later in its history, Follet Osler made the Folly into a weather observatory and it was used as such by Birmingham University up ‘til 1979. For twenty years it was unused except for occasional openings to the public, which helped the Perrot’s Folly Company maintain the building to prevent its collapse. Today a company called Trident hopes to restore the building as a tourist attraction; but in the meantime, groups such as Ikon can hire it for exhibitions and installations. It is said that this tower and the other Waterworks tower close by, were the inspiration for the Twin Towers that J R R Tolkien wrote about in Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s own sketches of Orthanc are based on the Folly’s windows, and the Waterworks tower resembles his illustrations of Minas Tirith. The Ikon Gallery features temporary exhibitions over two floors totalling 450m² in the centre of Birmingham. A variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation. The installation we went to see at Perrot’s Folly was part of Ikon’s Offsite programme. To quote from their programme: ‘Japanese sound artist Yukio Fujimoto is interested as much in how we hear, as in what we hear. For Ikon he turns his attention to Birmingham’s historic landmark Perrott’s Folly, transforming this 18th century tower into a site-specific installation using the tick-tocking of 1,111 clocks. As visitors climb through six floors, the sound of the clocks accumulates. One clock on one floor gives way to ten, giving way to a hundred, giving way to a thousand with the final result on the top floor being a kind of ‘white noise’. The Tower of Time is remarkable for the way in which it engages its audience; the experience is dependent on our physical movement through the tower as we travel up and down , our steps fitting in with the rhythm of the clocks. The implication of human mortality is inescapable as Fujimoto reminds us, with an abundance of time pieces, that our time is limited. The historical context only serves to reinforce his message.’ We thought it was fascinating and when we reached the top floor, it sounded as if it is pouring with rain. Maybe you can hear this in the short videos I made.
Information about Perrott's Folly
Information about Ikon