Jon Harris has lived, breathed and drawn Cambridge for over 50 years. His architect’s sense of structure and fabric, his draughtsman’s eye and vigorous use of pen and brush have produced an outstanding body of work. In 1997 the Fitzwilliam Museum honoured him with an exhibition of some 90 paintings and drawings.
A great many of his best works are published for the first time in Artist about Cambridge. They include drawings from the more than 40 sketchbooks which have been his constant companions over the past half century. Jon Harris’s text describes in compelling detail how the images came into being.
Harris’s work is not a depiction of Cambridge as the tourist might like to have it, but is rather about his fascination with unregarded vistas, its back streets, crucial buildings lost to the wrecking ball, and with the city’s industrial past. The artist’s unrivalled knowledge and understanding of Cambridge and its environs inform every painting and drawing, helping you enjoy a thousand things you might otherwise miss.
About the Author
Jon Harris has lived aloft in the same central city flat since 1964. Duncan Robinson once describes him as ‘a fixture in Cambridge, a kind of prematurely wise owl, peering down from his perch above the rooftops of Trinity and Green Streets’. Jon was born in 1943, his father a naval engineer, of New Zealand origin, his mother the daughter of a Scottish doctor. His works have been widely exhibited in East Anglian and London galleries and found their way into many a private collection.
Patrick Carnegy has known Jon since they were undergraduates at Trinity Hall, in the early 1960s. In 1997 he curated the exhibition of JH’s work at the Fitzwilliam Museum. He has been assistant editor at the TLS, music books editor at Faber and Faber, and dramaturg at the Royal Opera House. Dr Carnegy’s publications include Faust as Musician: a study of Thomas Mann’s ‘Dr Faustus’ (1973) and Wagner and the Art of the Theatre (2006) which won a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award.
Rob Howard trained alongside JH at the Cambridge School of Architecture. After working for architects in London, USA and India he joined Applied Research of Cambridge and ran the Construction Industry Computing Association for 20 years. He then became Professor of IT in Construction at the Danish University of Technology and a Visiting Fellow at a Finnish University before retiring to lecture and paint.
Foreword by Dame Fiona Reynolds
Putting Myself in the Frame
Note on the Illustrations
The Singularity of a Questing Eye, by Patrick Carnegy
1. Home Base: Roofscapes from Green Street
2. The Kite and its Satellites
3. Midsummer Common
4. Mapping Town and Gown
5. Riverside and Industrial
6. The Mechanical Muse
7. The Wrecking Ball
8. Anglian Excursions
9. Scherzi and Finale
Illustrations in the Book
Other Major Works by Jon Harris
Endorsements and Reviews
Citing – as he often did – Edgar Degas, my old Reading professor said, if you can’t draw you can’t paint. Jon Harris’s art has gone that right way. Artist about Cambridge should reap every reward.