I Belong Jarrow
“I have forgotten the language of my fathers and have not yet learned the language of my children. I live in a foreign country, I am an immigrant, I live in a little yellow house by the woods in Oslo with my family. I was born and brought up in a tough industrial town on the south bank of the Tyne, Jarrow, Britain. I call it Home. My Mother and Father are getting on and moving out, cutting me adrift with no way back.
Combined with an incoming Tory government that seems determined to wreck what they missed in the 80s and I have been forced to think about who I am and where I belong. I am photographing my hometown and the people I know there, to try and establish how much of where I am from determines who I am. Why I can’t let go. What makes Jarrow so special? It has a history going back to Roman times. The Venerable Bede was a Jarra Lad and the Jarrow Hunger March is world famous. None of which makes it special to me. For me it’s something intangible. Jarrow is a place that exists more in my imagination than in fact, it’s a collection of stories and I am an unreliable narrator.
If photography turns reality into metaphor then I am trying to photograph the metaphors. Hopefully by photographing my home, a place I know intimately, I can show something we all recognize. As L.P. Hartley said: ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’
Photography doesn’t come easy to me, I fail more than I succeed. Knowledge of my craft is vital: the camera is not a tool but a partner, albeit a reluctant one. I take photographs because I have to confirm that what I’m seeing is real. All my work is about Britain, it’s not about notions of Britishness. I am interested in the Britain that remains rigidly class-bound and how that has warped everything and always has. There is no irony in my work, I’m a romantic. Irony requires distance, but I want to get as close as possible to my subject. Each essay is a reference point on an imaginary map that I’m using to find my way home.”
- Chris Harrison
Published by Schilt Publishing
112 pages, 22,9 x 2,5 x28,6 cm