Mike Harrison

Marcel:   So, you went to Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School yet you went on to study art? Mathematics not your forte??

Michael:  I was good at mathematics, but I was also good at art.  My careers advice was to study Art, Maths, and Physics and train to be an architect.

Marcel:  So you became an architect?

Michael:  Sort of – I became an architect of IT solutions. I left school early as a result of a juvenile bet between 3 friends that back fired. But fate intervened and I was offered a job to train as an IBM computer programmer designing and building computer applications

Marcel:  Yet you left this career three years later to go to Canterbury College of Art

Michael:  A mere career delay, the three years employment meant I could apply as a mature student and I couldn’t risk not knowing what might have been had I not studied art full time

Marcel:  So then you became an artist?

Michael:  Well I could paint, if that’s what you mean, but I didn’t know why I wanted to paint or what I wanted to paint. It simply didn’t seem fulfilling enough. Problem was, I couldn’t stop analysing this and I felt somewhat disillusioned with the whole fine art thing; but at least I had found that out.

Marcel:  So your next step was …

Michael:  To drive an old 3-wheeled electric milk float around working class estates in Kent managing street theatre events and associated creative activities as part of a community arts project I co-founded and managed.  I also trained people to juggle and to ride unicycles as part of a circus skills project. IT, Art, and Training: three skill areas that I have juggled ever since.

Marcel:  A Juggler of Gravity indeed.  A career path with three parallel threads

Michael:  In a non-Euclidean sense

Marcel:  So what happened after the milk float years?

Michael:  Rewarding and hard work as it was, it didn’t make much money, and the sudden explosion onto the scene of Personal Computers and the IT revolution lured me back into IT. I worked for many years as a project and programme manager rolling out multi-million dollar IT projects around the world, design IT solutions then training users in Russia, Japan, USA, France, Germany, Hong Kong, and not forgetting the UK.

Marcel:  A few air miles there then; so IT won over Art and you became rich?

Michael:  I didn’t become rich; that’s another story. But it’s not a battle; it’s a deadly embrace. IT presents a challenging universe where both creativity and analytical thinking thrive: the syntax of the computing languages, the landscape of a motherboard, a creeping collective network of synaptic, sparks, and explosions – like your car drive to Jura but across a landscape that is both hard and soft. An organism where a single creative thought can propogate in an instance and trigger a chain reaction of quantum creativity. But I did not forsake my art; or rather, it did not forsake me.

Marcel:  But is IT art?

Michael:  Is maths an art? Is chemistry an art? Alchemy was always referred to as being both an art and/or a science? Is science an art? Is chess an art?

Marcel:  You also play chess?

Michael:  Too dangerous; nearly got hit by a car while walking home from school playing chess in our heads with a schoolfriend.

Marcel:  C’est la Vie. So where are you now?

Michael:  Exactly where I was in 1971 and probably where I’ll be tomorrow. Still painting.

Comments are closed.