Introducing Colin Priest

Who are you?

Colin Priest, artist, architect and educator.

Hello, how are you?

Good, thanks. It’s been a busy few months. Am in the fortunate position to be working simultaneously on a variety of projects across the UK. Beside Bay Watch, I have a work opening as a part of the inaugural Look Again Visual Art & Design Festival in Aberdeen and have a two-year WW1 commission in Deal, Kent for the Dover Museums and Arts Group as a part of Codename: Joined Up

joes ice cream

What do you do?

With a background in architecture, my work is largely site-specific and frames a space to consider various forms of narrative around urban and environmental change. Through drawing, writing, film, curation, installation and performance my practice centres on strengthening the value of intangible landscapes.

What have you been doing recently?

The last few years have been epic, as conversations have become wonderfully complex and site-specific, making works in and around the modernist gem, Spanish City in Whitley Bay for the Shimmer Digital Arts Festival, across various situations in St Leonards near Hastings and with Underground Pearl as a part of the Canterbury Festival. Getting into the grit of how various heritage contexts breathe is a continued privilege and pleasure and offers a place to act in a time where funding and critically our view; our shared memories and attitudes to change are valued and confronted. Composing a new work, The Dance of the Neptune Plant for the Whitstable Biennale 2014 by building a film, poem and installation inside a post-war library lecture hall space was a particular highlight. Together with exhibiting an on-going text and image work, Dark Island for the Hackney Wick Takeover at the Victoria & Albert Museum, created a space to question the vitality of how we can negotiate live history and live with history.

What are you doing for Art Across the City in Swansea?

The work is the conclusion to around two-years of conversations, visits to Swansea Bay and an archival investigation into the life of the foreshore. Early visits, back in 2013, I was struck by the skies, the topography and the punctuation of civic architectures found along the promenade – notably the Slip Bridge. Investigating since with the patient help of the West-Glamorgan Archive Service, the narratives around the transformation of the foreshore are considerable and physically chart the city’s active relationship to the sea. For Art Across the City, the work, is an invitation to watch the bay and is a composition of encounters and framed opportunities to see this vital landscape through film, archive material, text, ice cream, talks and invitations.

What are your ideas behind the work?

Whenever we say “I’m from …” we expose our fragile relationship to space and time and importantly how our identity is inextricably tied to a place. So when and how this context shifts, it affects us personally and offers a space to reconcile our shared expression of each other’s memories. Working with Joe’s Ice Cream in the creation of the limited edition, Swansea Slip Bridge Summer Sundae, for me captures the spirit and intention of the work. As it combines thoughts around the history of a found recipe, it’s making and context, how it tastes and the transformation of the recipe to construct a sensitivity and shared awareness to the past, present and future – all in a passing moment. Through collated ephemera, archive material from the West-Glamorgan Archive Service and buildings the breadth and physicality of memories composite.

What do you think the public will make of it?

From the outset, the work was conceived as a composition of time and to positively expose the cycles and parts of a vital landscape. Reading recent articles in Wales Online, the foreshore is at an interesting point in time, with the near-completion of the renewed boulevard and the prospect of a reimagining of the Civic Centre – perhaps making the work timely, if time can be timely?