A Dozen Eggs offers a critique of the life stories of photographer Harry Pearce, his mother and his eleven siblings, providing an insider’s view of the ties and tensions within one family, in parallel with a dispassionate commentary on origin, social mobility and ideas of home.
On display to a public audience for the first time, the 13 photographs in this new exhibition were created for Harry’s final year degree project last year, when he was completing a BA Honours degree in creative arts with the Open College of the Arts(OCA). He was awarded a first class honours in September 2012.
Harry began his academic life in the sciences before taking up a commission in the Royal Air Force. Almost a decade after leaving formal education, he enrolled with OCA to develop his creativity through painting and writing. Now, Harry has his own studio space at home and, as his commission with the RAF draws to its close, is combining working as a photographer with plans for a MA and PhD. Study for these higher degrees will take further the ideas on family, observation and detachment explored in this exhibition.
A Dozen Eggs began life as a number of individual photoshoots which took place over a period of 18 months. The images were taken in 13 geographically diverse locations, usually, but not exclusively, in a domestic environment. Harry invited all the members of his immediate family to select an image of themselves for inclusion in the finished work from the series of them he had created. He also asked them to provide a written commentary about themselves to display alongside their photograph. The viewer is invited to see the 13 final images as a coherent narrative through which those depicted are given a voice.
As both photographer and family member, Harry highlights the issue of detachment, questioning the links and potential frictions between the observed and the observer, and inviting his audience to do the same. He cites the work of three British photographers as influences on his thinking about the interaction between the image and the viewer: Richard Billingham, whose candid images of his family were published in his 1996 book Ray’s a laugh; Stephen Gill, whose work is seen as a hybrid between documentary and conceptual art; and documentary photographer KayLynn Deveney. Drawing on the ideas outlined by Professor of Cultural Geography Gillian Rose, who argues that family photography is worthy of serious critical attention, his work reveals an intimacy and intensity that references Tina Barney’s The Son.