Home > Arts > Artist in Focus > Chris Harman

It certainly comes to something when your job is featured on Chris Evans Breakfast Show as part of the ‘Great Job Wednesday’ feature!   That’s exactly what happened to our den building extraordinaire, Chris Harman.  We asked him to tell us more about how he ended up building dens as a way to make a living…..


“My creative journey started 13 years ago when I decided to leave my job and do a degree in art and design. I have always been creative and wanted to put my skills to good use.

My degree was the beginning of an amazing journey and whilst at college it allowed me to explore and develop a range of ideas, exploring materials, equipment and spaces. Mid way through the degree, I had started collaborating with artists and the public on several projects.  We made several sculptures using basic materials and I suddenly realised the act of creating something together was more special than the end result. I also discovered that people would often make dens rather than sculptures.

By the end of my third year, I had researched den building and how doing such things are fundamental to  child development. I also realised that building structures was a great activity to engage all ages.

I explored lots of materials and worked in various locations with different groups to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. Once I left college I wanted to continue to develop my own practice, but  I could see the massive potential in working in schools to use den building to help children be creative, build confidence, increase motivation and resilliance and work as a team. In order to this, it was important for me to gain experience of working in education. So I got a job working at David Young Community Academy as a teaching assistant. The year proved to be very beneficial.

…………..And after that year I decided to buy a van, advertise and start working freelance in schools , building dens! The last 7 years have been amazing!!!   I have worked in over 600 primary schools, as well as many other educational settings, and I feel very lucky. The job is incredibly rewarding, watching others be creative, building and smiling. The den building continues to evolve by adding new materials and challenges.

My own artistic practice continues to develop around the theme of action, rather than object as art, as well as through exploring materials and spaces and working with many groups of people. Over the last seven years, I have been lucky enough to work with many organisations who have supported my work including Leeds Art Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Hepworth Wakfield, English Heritage, The Tetley, Leeds College of Art and Artforms.”

For further information about Chris and den building, please visit www.chris-harman.com     www.denbuilding.co.uk

Details about the Creative Project delivered by Chris, can be found here.