15 Dec Philip Riley 12.2.2020 POPO Interview
From Philip Riley, POPO poet:
Here’s a recent photo of me in front of a tiny 13th century Cypriot church. It was above a stream where I went to collect reeds to repair a Greek chair. Beautiful icons line the walls of this simple building.
As for the reeds, they need to dry for a few weeks then weaving can take place. Think Van Gogh’s painting of a yellow chair.
Bio: I have been living and working as a visual artist in Cyprus for the past four years. Keeping a journal lead me to create a fictionalised account of my early experiences living in a Mediterranean country. The central character was a more naive version of myself; learning small lessons daily and being patient for the bigger picture to emerge. This version of me was hapless. I am a little more together.
During my first months in Cyprus I was a painter of landscapes. Just finding my feet. Soon afterwards I started to make site specific happenings, for example, covering concrete fortifications in painted seed heads. You know the thing.
I began to apply for residencies, in other countries, centered on ecological themes.
It was whilst working in Santa Maria de la Frontera in Andalusia at Beetime (a natural beekeeping collective) that I met poet Lynne Shapiro. She is one of the wittiest New Yorkers to walk this earth. It was she who lead me to POPO. Lynne has two publications out this year.
My poems, like my artwork, concentrate on my love of the natural world. Relationships, their tenderness and the difficulty in finding true connection, permeate the text.
The poem I read during my interview had two spelling mistakes. One deliberate, one I’m blaming on auto correct. Nature can be cruel but it shows us perfection. Perhaps this is why I have to meld my personal life into my reflections on the beauty of the natural world.
My website Philipjrileyartist.com shows examples of my interventions like the one described above.
My Instagram site philip.riley.961 is updated each day if you’d like an insight into my life in Cyprus.