Richard Paton

Invisible forces: they push us, they pull us, some we know about, most go unnoticed. As we make our best attempts to steer a steady course through life we are frequently buffeted by forces beyond our control. Time goes forwards, backwards, sometimes it stops still, perhaps it doesn’t even exist, light sheds light when we aren’t in the dark. Cosmic radiation streams through the empty space of our bodies, the earth’s magnetic field does it’s best to defend us from the sun’s blast. Incremental gaseous imbalances threaten the future of our ephemeral consciousness. The imperceptible spin of the earth hangs onto itself by gravity, it will exist long after our brief glimpse of it. As pressure from above makes the wind blow to the edges of a compass, I do my best to navigate the flux. I breath, I think, I make.
Richard Paton's sculptures use magnets as a metaphorical device to talk about the invisible force of a magnetic field and how this is integrated into our daily lives. From Geomagnetism to Magneto-reception, from the quantum scale to the universal, he explores science to invoke kinetic tension whilst talking about the grand narratives of existence. Concern for the environment and ecosystems have been long running themes. You can discover more about his practise at

Dead Reckoning
A reference to an historical navigation method. Starting from a place of certainty by calculating a previously determined position and then advancing that position with the use of instruments and analysis. The process of dead reckoning allows the navigator to know where they are in a featureless ocean. However, sometimes ships are knocked off course by un-foreseen natural events and are lost. See:
Richard Paton, Metal, Steel
Brain Melt (the wave function collapse)
According to quantum physics a particle exists as a wave throughout the universe but when it is observed and enters our consciousness it becomes a measurable particle, with the aid of scientific instruments, this is known as ‘wave function collapse’. A wave is converted by our mind from a probability to something with structure and locality. Therefore consciousness plays a fundamental part in the structure of the universe, it implies that the universe can only exist, or come into being, if it is observed. This kinetic sculpture is less an illustration but more a meditation on the fact. To see it working goto:
Richard Paton, Bronze, Metal
The Tempest Prognosticator
Using a lodestone compass this work explores the phenomenon of electromagnetism making reference to recent scientific discoveries in geo-magnetism and magneto-reception. Its premise hinges on the fact that animals are connected to the earth in a fundamental way that humans are not. Recent science has revealed that animals have a sense that allows them to detect the earth’s magnetic field whereas humans do not possess this ability. The human species has literally lost its sense of direction. This is therefore the grand metaphor of the work – we have lost our sense of direction. Using a powerful magnet and series of compasses, a distorted anthropocentic power relationship is established to amplify humanity’s dominance over the natural world and our inherent shame. The invisibility of this power, the magnetic field, stands to remind us of the fact that we don’t see the enormity of the damage being done. What many are now calling the sixth great extinction. The work has layered content but at its heart is climate change, species extinction and humanity’s culpability in this process. Named after The Tempest Prognosticator by George Merryweather in 1851 this work is about the silence before the storm, the increasing rapidity of species extinction, in all habitats across the earth. See this working :
Richard Paton, Wood, Bronze
Going Cuckoo
this is a working cuckoo clock which chimes on the hour, it is powered electrically with an internal digital clock. Like all creatures of the earth the Common Cuckoo population is in decline due to the use of insecticides and habitat loss. In the period of coronavirus and lockdown brought about by yet another zoonotic disease, ‘Going Cuckoo’ seems to parallel the dystopia, as an imagined nostalgia of life lost. You can this working :
Richard Paton, Wood, Bronze
Lark Descending
Human presence triggers a motion sensor which starts the song of the Skylark and the physical decent of the iron replica suspended, mid air, by a magnet until the song fades giving way to the rev of a tractor. The graph on the rusty back board shows the decline in Skylark numbers in the UK since 1967. Wild life is in drastic decline and heading toward extinction. In the case of the Skylark it is down to habitat loss due to more intensive farming practises in the UK. You can see this working :
Richard Paton, Metal, Mixed Media
Whilst making this I was thinking of the usual cliches around the circularity and symbolism of money and the grip this force has on our lives. The poverty trap and its debilitating influence. I’m also thinking of the Crown of Thorns and the symbolism of that historical torture held in place by 12 spokes. It was serendipitous that the lowest coin denominations are magnetic and form the crown. Each coin also wears a crown reinforcing the power of monarchy and privilege. A wooden ‘cart’ wheel is pegged together in traditional fashion into the rim to replace the rubber tyre.
Richard Paton, Wood, Mixed Media
The Arc of the Sun
Petrified animals, all screwed, motionless in a ceremonial boat, a lodestone and a compass orient the sundial within and the course is set.
Richard Paton, Wood, Mixed Media
An iron balloon is held mid air by the strength of the magnetic field above fixed to the frame. In the base there are 2 motors, one to spin the balloon the other to make the whole base jolt when it slowly lifts and falls making the balloon jolt and almost fall. You can see it working here:
Richard Paton, Metal, Wood

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