“I don’t believe
that an intellectually written synopsis
can make art better.
I think you have to feel it;
it has to touch you in some way and
provoke an emotional reaction.”
It is the mark of a true artist to take the ordinary and discover within it something extraordinary.
Family snapshots are ubiquitous. They fill albums, boxes and drawers in homes around the globe, they flow in torrents through the annals of FaceBook or languish uncatalogued and uncared-for in the ancestral attic. Yet Sam Harris captures fleeting moments of domesticity and creates from them the timeless and the iconic.
Regardless of how one’s kinship is constituted (through friendship, love, biology or law) it is central to our lives. For each of us, family can become the lens that shapes and colours our understanding of the world. But, with an inverse proportion that remains baffling to the average snapper, other people’s family photos, like other peoples holiday slide-shows, fill the viewer with ennui. With the capriciousness of a wardrobe that (only for a special few) leads to an enchanted inner kingdom, the magic inside each family is rarely experienced beyond the sovereign domestic realm.
Sam Harris’ images transcend all that.
They achieve a delicate fusion of the idiosyncratic and the universal to whisper of deep truths that nestle at the heart of each of us. He does so with the lightest of touches, often directing our gaze away from the apparent centre of attention to a fleeting interplay on the outskirts of perception. While all the images are made from one perspective – a father – they juxtapose many points of view. For each of us must be many things, take on multiple modalities of being: partner, parent, offspring, sibling, lover, worker, fixer, driver, guardian, nurse, clown, psychologist, confessor…
Sam Harris began his career in suburban London as a self-taught enthusiast experimenting in a home-made darkroom to the rhythms pumping from his record player. Combining these passions, he made his first big break into the UK music industry creating memorable editorial and album-cover art for the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Emma Bunton, UB40 and Jamiroquai. Success in this field lead to an expanding stable of clientele such as The Telegraph and The Sunday Times magazines, Esquire and Dazed & Confused. It was an editorial shoot with Victoria Beckham (“the woman just doesn’t seem to have funny bone in her body”) that catalysed his resolve to leave London, and change pace and direction. His daughter Uma was born on the eve of the new millennium, a fresh chapter was opening up that lead Sam and his family on a journey, both emotional and geographic, through Europe to Israel, on to India and finally to the far south-western corner of Australia. Here they have settled (for now at least) on a property amid the forests of Balingup where Sam works on personal projects such as ‘Postcards from Home’ and shares his passion and insight with a new generation of aspiring photographers while teaching at the local TAFE.
We stand on the cusp of change. The metropolitan, cosmopolitan marketplace of authorised, commoditised art is beginning to seem like yesterday and, sensing a new, subtler and more highly individuated language of creative communication ahead, we look towards an uncertain tomorrow. Sam Harris may well be there to greet us when we arrive.
All images are © Sam Harris and have been selected from the series ‘Postcards from Home’