Q&A with Colin Priest, the artist behind our 2019 festival commission, SLOW READ HERE
What do you do?
Having trained as an architect, my work is largely site-specific and frames a space to consider various forms of narrative around urban and environmental change. Through either installation, writing, moving-image or performance, public encounters gently rub fragments of time and space, manifesting as ephemeral actions: conversation, intervention and gathering to encourage a deeper sense of place.
What have you been doing recently?
Alongside my teaching responsibilities at University of the Arts London (UAL), I have been fortunate to visit Japan as a Visiting Professor and be involved in a placemaking project for the city of Kawagoe. Famous for its architectural heritage and sweet potato delicacies, students from UAL and Bunkyo Gakuin University, Tokyo have been making new types of place-centric souvenirs. I am currently making a new work following a recent trip to Bukit Timah, a natural area found along the old Singapore-Malayan Peninsula railway line being transformed into a Green Corridor that will be exhibited in 74 Years at Other Art Network. I have also been collaborating with Merrett Houmøller Architects as a part of Making Places, on the design of new gateways for The Higham’s Park, a Humphrey Repton designed landscape in Waltham Forest and will be opening later this year.
What are you doing for International Literature Festival Dublin 2019?
The work SLOW READ HERE is a site-specific public art intervention emboldening the city to find some time.
What are your ideas behind the work?
The conversation with International Literature Festival Dublin and Irish Architecture Foundation for SLOW READ HERE started in 2017 following a visit to the city and an observation about the many clocks found across the city. Here the idea of finding time and how we feel the city, through architecture and literature, buildings and words combined in the act of reading space. As technology and urban life speeds up (or slows down depending upon the time of day), the idea of slow reading or a slow read, directs a greater appreciation of the here and now and heightening of our sensitivity to imaginary or real places. Perhaps dawdling over a sentence structure or a building ornament to understand an author’s or architect’s deeper intention. The work was conceived as a contemporary rustication, a type of architectural finishing commonly found across Dublin’s older buildings to ‘slow’ the reading of space. Starting at the Irish Architecture Foundation, then on to Grattan Bridge to the Irish Architectural Archive via St Patrick’s Park will gently awaken street-level stories and a fresh perspective to the city.
What excites you about Dublin as a city?
I distinctly remember visiting Dublin in the late 1990’s, during my first year of architecture school and proposing a work for Temple Bar stirred by the cobbled topography of an area undergoing significant urban change. Then as now, urban theorists Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language and Kevin Lynch’s What Time is this Place? continue to invigorate my understanding of Dublin and how important city stories scaffold urban life. To return twenty-two years later to see how the city continues to transform and have the opportunity to strengthen a deeper sense of these narratives is very exciting. With this in mind, SLOW READ HERE has been an extraordinarily long time in the making and sincerely thank everyone who has made it happen!
What are you reading at the moment?
Currently reading The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids by Design critic Alexandra Lange. A very enjoyable read.