Harry Flowers 2002-2012
"Harry Flowers" was the name of an art project contrived and executed by me in the decade between 2002 and 2012.
Initially conceived in early 2002 when I was 29 years old and living the life of a carefree (and broke) bachelor in Melbourne, Australia, Harry was of course named for the sinister gangster boss in Nicholas Roeg's film Performance. Looking for a creative outlet that was free of peer pressure, obligations or expectations, I hit upon the timeworn convention of adopting a character/persona through which I could do whatever I liked musically or otherwise. So there is no such person as Harry Flowers. It was me all along. Approaching 30, I saw "Harry" as something of an escape route from my own youthful aspirations of rock stardom. By adopting the persona of a "seedy 40-ish has-been", I sought to short-circuit the usual trajectory of rock failure and disillusionment by starting out as failed and disillusioned. Brilliant.
One of the most important ideas behind Harry Flowers as a creative cipher was that it was always intended to be a temporary ruse. In order for the persona to work for me, I had to be younger than Harry was. I'm not sure I really understand why this was the case, but the finitude of Harry's lifespan certainly gave me the impetus I needed to be the creative libertine I was born to be. 2012 was always intended to be the date carved upon Harry's virtual headstone - that was the year I was to turn 40, so it was the year that Harry had to die. In 2002 that seemed like such a long way off. I set about devoting my thirties to realising his potential.
It took a while to get started. Following some abortive efforts at solo recording (including the fundamentally flawed An Interesting Life, which was released briefly online in 2004, as well as the brilliant 30 minute orchestral masterpiece The Harry Flowers Half Hour which remains unreleased), I moved with my wife to Texas in 2004. In Houston, shorn of hair and collaborators, I wrote and recorded two EPs (Harry Flowers Incarnate and The Dabbling Muse) which I released online to immediate critical indifference.
Well, no, not quite. A small body of 'fans' slowly emerged from the fibre optic woodwork, and it was their praise and interest along with the unrelenting demands of my Muse that kept me going.
In 2006 I moved back to England (where I had been raised as a child before moving to Australia). I released two further EPs (Harry Flowers Discarnate and She Reads Faulkner) before starting work on Wyvern & Worm in 2009. The album was finally released in 2011, again to immediate critical indifference. The album aside, the last 4 years have been relatively fallow in creative/productive terms as obligations and expectations have once again interposed themselves between me and my creation. Such is life, in all its richness and fullness, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
So in the end the period 2004-2008 was something of a purple patch for Harry Flowers, with a 5-track EP being recorded and released each year. The full-length W&W album was intended to be the first of at least three...but time and circumstance got the better of me and now Harry Flowers has run out of both. No time to finish Plastic Flowers; no time to work through Pink Palace; and certainly not enough time to record Lavish Double Life. Just like a 'real' performer, Harry Flowers passes from this Earth along with with so much unfulfilled potential.
But at least I get to eulogise about it all.
I am proud of the 37 songs I've written, recorded and released over the past 10 years. It's not a stunning workrate, but then Harry was always a part time endeavour as well as a finite entity. The EPs were conceived as online 'performances', ephemeral in nature, here today, archived or lost tomorrow. Some people out there may have downloaded some or all of my songs, but they will probably be the only ones to hear them. Wyvern & Worm will remain something of a document, but for me it was always about the 'concepts' behind each of the records, the writing, the images, the Big Idea. I have always been pretentious that way.
But now it is all done. I'm off to devote my forties to something different. Raising my son; completing a doctorate; being an academic. Harry Flowers is as 'complete' as any art project can be, which is to say that it can never, ever be completed.
Thank you to all who have supported me in creating and sustaining this strange work of art.
Yours in song
Leicester, UK, 1 January 2013
Think of this as a parting gift, or a swan-song of sorts....
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