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Interviewed by Mark Orr
Hi Stuart...I have admired your art for a long time.
Can you tell us about where and when you were born....and what your childhood was like?
And your parents? I read that your father and mother were in the military!
Shortly after World War II ( September 30, 1949 ) I was born in the war
ravaged town of Bradford, Yorkshire. England. Both my mother and father were
soldiers during this devastating conflict. My father ( American ) was in
England training and preparing for the eventual invasion of Europe, which
occurred on June 6, 1944. My Mother (English) was a soldier in a branch of
the Royal Air Force, known as the Women's Air Force (WAF). Her job was to
plot the course of the hoards of German Luftwaffe bombers that bombed her
country daily, during "The Battle of Britain". As fate would have it, during
such struggles, life would cause their paths to cross. They meet and fell in
love and were married shortly after the war concluded.
What a fascinating story.....really romantic despite the circumstance of war. What was
growing up in England like? And how were you introduced to creating art?
My childhood was a very pleasant one, mostly spent dressed in the
proverbial, English school boy's uniform. Summers were often spent with my
grandparents which afforded me the opportunity to play in the, wild flower
filled, fields of the countryside. Often sneaking into some of the bombed
out buildings in search adventure, more than once being caught by the
local constabulary, who quickly reprimanded and returned me to
my grandfather, My punishment was to listen to him read from his collection
of classical books, Chaucer, Dickens and Sir Walter Scott to name a few. He
had other wonderful books filled with beautiful pictures of "Western
Civilizations" great works of Art
Rain was a constant companion during those early years allowing ample time
to spend indoors. Before boredom set in I would have paints, brushes and
ample sheets of clean paper spread in front of me. All the while, with paint
brush in hand, under my "Nannies" tutelage as to which colors complimented
each other and the concept of composition. Being constantly encouraged, she
would tell me that one day I would be an artist. Becoming giddy with the
anticipation of it all, I studied diligently for that day to arrive.
At some point you moved to the U.S....I bet that was quite a change for you.
I grew into a young man in the United States absorbing the culture of
"Rock and Roll" and hamburgers. Trips to the drive-in, where the most
beautiful girls in the world would bring trays full of savory
delights, coupled with radiant smiles that I would carry in my minds eye for
days. Those halcyon days were soon tempered by the spectre of the Vietnam
You lived in a lot of different places...where else did you live?
We were on the move constantly. the US for a few months or a few years
....then back to Europe for a few months or years....or Africa etc.. It
turns out that my father became something of a spy after WWII. As a result
we didn't stay in one place to long. It did seem to me in retrospect that
whenever there were any flare ups (revolutions) during the "Cold War" we
would end up in close proximity. I can't really say much about exactly what
my father did. One because I don't really know and two because he can't and
won't talk about it. I do remember finding pistols in the strangest places
at home though....under some towels in the linen closet and even between two
frying pans in a kitchen cabinet. He did finally retire in the late sixties
and we moved to the US permanently.
Not your average family....ha.....sounds really exciting! I think there's a book in there
somewhere. So...you must have been living here permanently in the far out 60's and 70's!
What was your experience of the "Peace and Love" era?
Before I moved to America the "English Invasion" had started. At the time I
still lived in England so I became fully immersed in that scene.... letting
my hair grow all the while . Of course the Beatles were at the top of the
list......the Rolling Stones, The Byrds, The Who etc. America was the place
to be in the seventies with the likes of Grand Funk Railroad, Cream (Eric
Clapton) Led Zeppelin (English I know) Mountain, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath
and of course ZZTop. The Art scene was alive for me also with the likes of
James Rosenquist, Jasper Johns, David Hockney, Peter Max, Robert
Rauschenberg etc, and one can't mention the seventies without including
Andy Warhol. In fact those were the years that I started to collect Art... I
must say I am very proud of my collection, small as it is, which
includes most of the names listed above.
Next you went to the University of Oklahoma....what did you study and how did that go?
After High school rather than participate in a war that I wanted no
part of, having seen the results of such human endeavors as a child, I entered the University of
Oklahoma with the expectation of fulfilling my
dream of becoming a great artist. As fate would have it, circumstance
intervened, my life long dream was not to be. During one of my many art
classes the esteemed professor had the entire class of students cut leaves
out of reams multi-colored craft paper. Upon completion of our task we were
all paraded outside into the shock of a cold winters day. As we gathered
around a small leafless tree the esteemed professor proceeded to explain how
we were going to scotch tape our craft paper leaves to the little tree. At
which time, said tree, was going to experience a beautiful rebirth brought
on by the joy and splendor of its new found foliage compounded by all the
"love" created by our collective consciousness. Despondent, the next week I
enrolled into the University's program of Anthropology with the romantic
notion of becoming an Archaeologist.
Wow...pasting leaves on trees...sounds like an episode of Bravo's "Work of Art". Can't blame
you for switching to Anthropology. I bet that was really exciting. Your travels led you to
Greece and a love of archaeology. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I had the good fortune and experience of living in Greece, for a
number of years. I often day dream, or reminisce to close friends, about
those romantic and wonderfully exciting years. At every opportunity telling
the ancient story of the battle of Thermopylae, to my nieces and nephews.
How 300 Spartans sacrificed their lives to keep the great Persian army at
bay, robbing Xerxes his of dream of world conquest. All the while leaving
the wide eyed children pestering for more. I realize now that this was no
giant leap of the imagination to go from the fascination of exploring bombed
out buildings, to pursuing the same adventures in the time ravaged ruins of
one of the worlds most important and influential ancient cultures. I was
quick to learn that one cannot help but be affected whilst standing in the
middle of the birth place of "Western Civilization". I submit, this
experience most certainly lead me down the path toward becoming an
archaeologist, a circumstance that was to become one of the most fulfilling
of my life.
Eventually your love of archaeology and photography merged. How did that happen?
While pursuing my profession of archaeologist I would experience moments
when I would say to myself,"I wish I had brought my camera". Many a time, I
would be in some exotic location or in the middle of excavating a beautiful
piece of pre-columbian pottery, I found myself asking that same question
again and again. At some point a camera was with me at all times,
members of a "Dig" suddenly seeking me out to photograph their newly revealed treasures as
As time went by I found myself no longer
digging in the dirt, I was now an archaeological photographer, I was now the
expedition photographer. Soon I was looking for other treasures, toward
which I could point my lens. The world took on a new persona for me, now it
had become the subject of my photographic pursuits. The pursuits of
which I became suddenly aware was a new found opportunity to fulfill the
dream of that little boy in England,,,,I could become an artist.
What type of photography do you mostly do and who (what artists) were your major
Most of my photography is done outdoors. excluding the work I perform in
the "Jelly Jar Studio", which is actually my kitchen. I have gravitated
toward wildlife it seems....particularly birds.
The most prominent photographers that I think had the greatest influence on
me were David Muench he and his Father were masters of light. From them I
learned the importance of lighting. Later it was Tomas D. Mangelsen, his
wildlife work is beyond measure. These days I like the Australian
photographer Peter lik and his wonderful scenic work....I invite you to look
at his work......spellbinding! All as you can see work outside.
Two of a Kind by Stuart Harrison
What kind of equipment do you use and what do you think of the digital age of photography?
My camera equipment started with Cannon (F1) and slowly but surely was
replaced by Nikon.....all film cameras. As far as digital is concerned I was
a latecomer into the foray. I finally bought a Panosonic, ( I thought they
just made stereos) lumix Z50.($400) Which I use to this day......in fact all
but a few of my photographs on "Ovation" were taken with this camera. It's
light and easy to handle (very rugged) as a result its easy to bring along
with me where ever I go, I never leave home without my camera.....these days
its just part of me. Now I am a great advocate for the digital format.
"Instant gratification" being the key reason and ease of use.
I also have to address the use of such software as Photo-shop. At first
the idea of PS was the kiss of death to anyone trying to sell theirff
photographs. At Art shows I was constantly asked if any of my images were
edited with PS. I lied at the time and said "no". The idea that I would be
penalized for what I would have told the processing lab to do to my "Film"
photographs anyway, but did it myself on a computer seemed absurd. If Photo
shop poisoned the water for a potential buyer the I considered them "simple
minded" and they deserved to be lied to.( I sleep very well at night ,Thank
you.) To me its a case of no harm no foul to m. I freely admit to this
deceit but I guarantee I was not the only one, if the truth be know. As
time passed the digital revolution has enveloped us all and Photo editing,
with the myriad of software available out there, has become acceptable. Now it
seems if you don't edit your work digitally people look at you as if you are
the "simple minded" one.....go figure. I use Photo Shop Elements on ALL of
my images. I repeat ALL of my images. The digital age is here to stay so I
say take advantage of any of the tools out there that will help you in your
photographic pursuits and endeavors. To ignore this mantra is to go the way
of the dinosaur.
Any exhibitions, awards, book appearances or other accomplishments with your
During my career as a photographer, rewards have been reaped that have often left me speechless.
Traveling to exotic lands, enjoying the thrill of revealing things unseen and marveling over beauty that
is this planet, Earth I have experienced the the good fortune of being well received by the public and my
peers. I have accomplished most of goals I had set for myself, in particular being published. My
photographs have appeared in approximately fifteen books, most recently I was honored to be included
in a wonderful book titled "21st Century Photographers", You were included in that book yourself Mark,
quite a feather in our caps I say. Besides books my work has made the cover of magazines and has
been featured in several, scientific journals and papers can also be included. I have also been active in
the art show scene garnering such awards as "Best of Show" , "Peoples Choice", Artists Choice" and
others along the way. All of this pales though in comparison to the experience of selling my first
photograph as an Artist. The idea that someone enjoys one's work enough to pay good money for it is
mind boggling. There is something about that moment that is life changing. I can't explain it either, only
to say that I'm sure other artists out there know exactly what I'm talking about. It's as if one can now say
"I have arrived".
Reach by Stuart Harrison
Words of wisdom for upcoming photographers?
Now that I'm older, hopefully wiser, I often sit in the sunshine and dream of all of those moments when I
didn't have my camera, moments that will haunt me for life. One can't return to the past of course, but
one can resolve to never repeat the past. To any younger photographers out there that might read this
interview I say "Don't forget your camera". One need not suffer the consequences as this old man,
sitting in the sunshine, haunted.
Great advice Stuart.
Thanks so much for doing this interview Stuart. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with
me and look forward to seeing much more of your amazing photography.
Thanks Mark this has been fun!
Stuart Harrison Photographer/Archaeologist
See more of Stuarts art here: Stuart Harrison on Ovation
|Hide And Go Sleep by Stuart Harrison
Music is "Powerful Stuff" by Sean Hayes
Normandy by Stuart Harrison
Good interview - love his 'Two of a Kind' image!
~Nick A. Moore
Great interview. I have been blessed to learn a lot from Stuart. He has taken me from just snapshots to
photos. I am very proud of I could never thank him enough for his time.
Mark: You're a great interviewer, and you've successfully interviewed one of the greatest, living
photographic Artists on the planet. What a marvelous story and a great read about a stupendous
photographer and a great human being. Kudos to you and to Stuart Harrison.
Excellent. Stuart is an amazingly skilled photographer with a sensitive vision, and his talent is matched
only by his willingness to share his wisdom with those of us that are learning.
Re: Interview With Fine Art Photographer and Archaeolgist Stuart Harrison
Amazing interview, Mark! We all love Stuart and it was wonderful to read his story! Keep up the good
Way to go Mark! An interview with a great guy by a great guy!!
I enjoyed this interview for two reasons, one - I know both artists: Stuart and Mark. Both of them are
wonderful guys and exceptionaly talented
photographers. The other reason, I love this interview is the unpretentious, homey mood of it.
Congratulations my dear friends, truly you did fine work!
Great interview gentlemen. Congratulations to you Mark and thanks to you Stuart for telling your story.I
found it to be very compelling.
Good interview. Very informative.
Thanks for sharing, got to know you both a little better.
What a very interesting story you tell Stuart. Thanks Mark for giving Stuart the opportunity to tell it.
Stuart's photos speak for themselves and he has delighted us with his "Jelly Jar Studio" images. Keep on
The best advise I have ever heard.... Carry your camera.
This was a great interview and Stuart really enjoyed responding to your great questions. As our lives
unfold I always seem to find one more reason to love him more... I am so blessed by having Stuart in my
life I'll always be grateful to Ovation for the affording us the opportunity to meet from seperate parts of the
Congratulations!!! Great Interview!!!!
Especially loved the wild flower filled, fields of the countryside.
Wonderful interview, mark, of an amazing photographer! I'm always pleased when i get a compliment from
stuart about one of my images! Good advice about always trying to take your camera wherever you
Great job and congrats Stuart.