I have been working in the sitting room of our New Orleans apartment where a pair of large golden wings sits in one corner, and a wall clock shaped like a pocket-watch leans against the hearth, both fragments of my costume of Father Time from several Mardi Gras ago. I have been actively and passively thinking about time and its absence as New Year’s Eve approaches and several important dates loom large: Carnival season which starts on Twelfth Night (January 6), Mardi Gras (early this year on February 16) and the deadline for the text of my forthcoming book, “The Finest Rooms” (December 31).
I have long been fascinated by images of Father Time, the iconic old man, naked save for some modest drapery and always armed with a scythe. He appears often in old prints and naturally on antique timepieces. The first time I paid attention to this august man was upon a clock at the J. Paul Getty Museum. It features both Father Time and Cupid to convey the idea that love conquers time. (Would it be that the love of my work could conquer my deficit of time?)
My friend, artist John Kelly, also owned a clock with a figure of Father Time that I have admired since I moved to New York. Recently he moved, so, happily, the clock now graces the mantle in our office. I really think these types of romantic French clocks are undervalued, both as sculpture and decorative art. They somehow look striking in every type of room (excuse the pun).
I also admire Hogarth’s renderings of Father Time, especially the one where he is blowing smoke onto an oil painting to “cure” it into an old master.
In our loft we have a beautiful watch stand from the 19th century, one of my favorite objects, that shows Time striding vigorously—perhaps he is racing against us? The figure served as a model for my Mardi Gras costume with the giant gold wings that the costume designer Martin Izquierdo made for me. The wings are superlative in part because Martin had lots of experience with making wings, having done the ones that appeared on the Victoria’s Secret models in their well-known advertisement.
It is wonderful to costume as Father Time. It brings his iconography into the present, his ancient personage passing through to modern times.
Photos from top: Thomas Jayne as Father Time, photo by Rick Ellis; sitting room Thomas and Rick’s place in New Orleans, photo by Susan Sully; Father Time statuette at Thomas Jayne Studio, photo by Nancy Romeu; Father Time statuette at Thomas and Rick’s New York loft, photo by David Gilbert.