In a break with previous ideas Alastair Hunter has created an original new sundial that has two shadows, one showing the time of day and another the season of the year. This can add more pleasure to having a sundial in a garden. The design was created in 2015 and has been named DIHELION meaning ‘dual sun’ after ancient Greek words. The sundial was shown to the public at ‘Sculpture in the Garden’, the annual sculpture exhibition at The Savill Garden, Egham, Surrey, which ran from 1 September to 31 October.
In sundial terms, DIHELION is the combination in a single piece of a horizontal dial and an altitude dial. The horizontal dial shows the hours. The altitude dial shows the passage of the year’s four seasons by measuring the solstice and equinox declinations. Each dial plate carries a gnomon that casts a shadow onto the other dial. The horizontal plate carries a gnomon for the altitude dial. The vertical plate carries a polar gnomon for the horizontal dial.
It is thought the concept of DIHELION having two shadows has never been used in this way before. Alastair’s idea came when he realised that two flat plates could be angled so that each one casts a shadow onto the face of the other, although neither can cast a shadow on its own face. This led on to the thought of combining time and season dials together. Even though sundial designs go back for well over two thousand years, this is a modern and innovative concept.
Turning the idea into reality has taken time and imagination. The sundial is constructed in galvanised steel with a powder-coat painted finish. The beautiful form of a sunflower has inspired the shapes, which are pierced through the metal so that an ever-moving sunflower image appears whenever the sun shines. Sunflowers are a lovely sundial metaphor in the way they stand in the field and turn their heads towards the sun.