Chartwell Stairwell: Julian Priest

May 2014 - June 2015

 Chartwell Stairwell - La Scala


La Scala, by Julian Priest, is one of the two winning proposals for the 2014/5 Chartwell Stairwell. la scala in Italian means both ‘ladder’ and ‘musical score’. The work is a synaesthetic occurrence, being both technologically functional as well as fulfilling aesthetic appreciation. 


Priest has devised a system to transform the architectural space of the stairwell into a musical instrument. The harmonics respond directly to the dimensions of the space; the height of each stair determines the length of each bell; the length of the bell determines the pitch. The twenty three tubular bells are activated by people using the staircase, with the musical score descending as people ascend, and vice versa. 


Julian Priest (1968, United Kingdom) is a Whanganui based artist who works with participatory and technological forms. He is director of The Greenbench and is a board member of the Aotearoa Digital Arts trust. He has lectured at the Banff Centre, Whanganui School of Design, and A.U.T University. Recent exhibitions include: The Blue Marble, Machine Wilderness Public Art Finalist Exhibition, Abuquerque, 2012; Sink, Machine Wilderness, ISEA, Abuquerque (2012-13); and Local Time, Local Knowledge, Dowse, Wellington, (2011-12).


Thanks to Nicholas Twist, Josh Hamilton, Louise Mair, Sam Longmore, Bronte Heron, Isabella Dampney, Michele Rumney, Tim Wagg, David Naus, Daphne Simons, Andrew Hornblow, Nick Gjaja.