Photographer and outdoors man, Colin Prior, is presenting at the Thomas Coats Memorial Church in Paisley, discussing his four year project The Living Mountain, which is obviously influenced by Nan Shepherd’s iconic title but looks at his time in not only the Scottish mountains but also a range of mountains in Pakistan.
Colin spoke with The Fountain ahead of this about why he chose to title the project The Living Mountain, what drew him to Paisley and what impact getting City of Culture would have on the town.
TF: The Paisley Photographic Society have organised a talk with you on The Living Mountain, which is a four year project that you embarked upon. Could you elaborate on this?
Well the presentation itself is essentially going to be in two parts. The first part will consist of me talking about the work that I’ve been doing over the last four years in Scotland. In the second part I will talk about the work in Pakistan in the Karakoram mountains. I spent four years out there shooting a range of mountains which has not been recorded in any serious way. The presentation will be a double end if you like of those two projects.
TF: Obviously with that title you have drawn inspiration from Nan Shepherd’s book, what was it about her book that inspired you to name the project The Living Mountain?
What stood out for me is that it is her personal insight, it is not the sort of thing that you really read in other books. It was the result of years of her lifetime with personal observations and thinking deeply about the experiences she was having and the relationships that existed between the elements of the mountain. This includes aspects such as light, the life, both plant and animal, and water, snow and ice. She looked deeply at the relationship between the elements which constitute a living mountain. I don’t think anyone has done this in such a concise way.
TF: Isn’t it great to see her face on the Scottish five pound notes now in recognition of her writing?
It was and I think she was really before her time. She tried to get a publisher after the war and she friendly with a writer called Neil Gunn. He encouraged her and I think she approached one publisher and after the war, resources were few, and I don’t think her book spoke broadly enough. What she has written in that book is certainly of it’s time now and I think it now speaks for a great number of people with an empathy for the outdoors.
TF: What made you choose Paisley to give this presentation and have this discussion in the Thomas Coats Memorial Church?
They actually approached me. I did a presentation for the Photographic Society there many years ago and naturally I was delighted to come along. Usually I find myself presenting in areas out-with Glasgow, they tend to be either in England or other parts of Scotland so it’s great to be doing something in the Glasgow area, as people often ask me if I am doing something locally.
TF: There’s obviously a lot of buzz around Paisley at the moment with this positive bid for the City of Culture 2021, have you any thoughts on how this might impact on the creative and photographic opportunities within the town?
It would be great if they were successful with that bid. I think what any recognition would do is probably lead to investment inwardly into the city in a big way. So it certainly would be good, not just for Paisley, the town but also for the people of Glasgow as well.
Tickets for The Living Mountain at 7:30pm on Friday 17th November are available from The Paisley Museum or Coats Memorial Church. For more on Colin Prior click here.