Australian Author Darryl Collins Dies in Siem Reap

Australian author Darryl Collins, who co-authored two groundbreaking books on Cambodia's architectural heritage, died in Siem Reap on Wednesday, a friend said. He was 76.

Collins first came to Cambodia in 1994 as part of an Australian government grant to revitalise the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

After a year and a half, he briefly returned to Australia, resigned from his position at the National Gallery in Canberra, and returned to Cambodia and the museum in 1996.

Between 1998 and 2002, Collins lectured at the Department of Archaeology at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh.

Over the next two years, he worked as a part-time advisor to the Department of Culture and Research at the APSARA National Authority in Siem Reap.

Between 2004 and 2013, he served as the National Museum staff manager for inventory and database projects which digitally recorded and photographed the museum’s entire collection.

For his first book on Cambodian architecture — “Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture 1953-1970”, published in 2006 — Collins collaborated with British architect Helen Grant Ross.

His second book — “Cambodian Wooden Houses: 1,500 Years of Khmer Heritage”, published last year — was a joint project with Cambodian architect Hok Sokol, who also helped research the first publication.

H.E. Chea Sophara, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, praised the second book as a “rich document that showcases the history, evolution as well as techniques, traditions and elaborate motifs developed by Khmer workers of wood over the past fifteen centuries.”

Writing in the book’s preface, he said it was “crucial” for Cambodians — especially younger generations — “to ensure they understand, and appreciate the need for preserving their heritage.

“In addition, my wish is that this book will become a useful resource for appreciation, exploration and research in the ASEAN region as well as throughout the world,” the Deputy Prime Minister wrote.

Collins left Phnom Penh in 2006 after buying a wooden house on Koh Pi Island in the Mekong River in Kampong Cham province and transporting it to Siem Reap where it was rebuilt near Wat Damnak. He conserved another two wooden houses which now stand on the outskirts of Siem Reap.

Source: Agence Kampuchea Presse