Copper horses is a series of images shot on a medium format digital camera. They are taken of a machine with each part captured in fine detail.
As children our fathers are our heroes. Chris Harrisons father would arrive home from work with exciting stories of adventure which added to his illusions of his super hero parent. The reality was that he worked in a factory and the realisation of that could have shattered the lofty position in which Chris held his father. It is from this transition and loss of innocence that he began to make these images. Rather than think of his parent as simply a factory worker he chose to explore what that really meant.
Chris Harrison father worked predominantly on one machine and so he went about breaking down this industrial leviathan into its component parts and photographing them in every detail. Chris talks about his father with pride and the way he takes his time with each shot shows the emotional connection through his father that he has with each piece. Harrison captures everything in detail, a discarded glove, grease on a bolt, a worn scratched housing, Almost as if his father had made each mark himself for his son to discover years later you can almost feel the bond growing stronger with each shot.
Collectively these images tell one persons story of growing up, our parents can’t be all the things we imagine them to be and eventually reality creeps in but for Chris, rather than lament the loss of these childhood fantasies he has chosen to embrace what was his father’s working life.
I really enjoyed the exhibition and situated in Bradford’s ‘National Media Museum’ works well against the cities industrial background. Here there will be a steady stream of visitors that will understand what Chris was trying to do but I am not sure that it works so well further afield and with newer generations. With the industrial age consigned to history our successors will find that their parents worked in the service industry or perhaps ‘IT’. If someone were to take apart a computer and photograph it in the same way I am not sure it would deliver the same impact. Maybe it is nostalgia that moves us, as we yearn for bygone days or do we still romanticise these physical working class roles, our gift to them for enduring such a life. However it works I can not envisage that 50 years from now we would be cataloging iPads and iPhones the same way.
For many of us our fathers are often still our heros regardless of what they really did. The act of going out everyday regardless of the drudgery and banality that the daily grind would bring in order to provide for his family was the true heroism for Chris and through these images he shares that relationship with us.