Geoffrey Harrison

© Geoffrey Harrison, "Asteroid TJEX", 2014,

Geoffrey Harrison (UK, London)
Asteroid TJEX (2015)
Graphite on paper


This title refers to the date and time of the birth of my son. The format reflects the naming convention for astral bodies including asteroids and comets. What appears to be an asteroid reveals itself to be a drawing of my son’s head, camouflaged by craters and surface regolith.

With this image, and a series of similar works, I am exploring the metaphorical similarity of the life altering impact of the birth of a child and the catastrophic collision of a comet or asteroid on earth. As well as being visually similar to sperms, comets may have seeded the planet, the symbolic egg, with life in the form of organic compounds. Such bodies are at once potentially life threatening and life creating.

Without making these allegorical connections, I followed the European Space Agency Rosetta Mission to send a probe 6.4 billion km to rendezvous with a comet travelling at 135,000 km per hour. I was struck by the spectacular images of asteroids it passed and embarked upon a series of Asteroid drawings, only later making the birth connection and conflating the imagery. My son was conceived as Rosetta came out of hibernation, and born just before Rosetta’s own offspring, Philae, landed.

The powerful metaphor of life in the parallel and gradual reveal of both child and comet is the inspiration for this work and a larger project I am working on in collaboration with Rosetta scientists and the Royal Observatory Greenwich.