One man’s love of golf is perfectly brought to life in a stunning new exhibition of his work which celebrates the 150th Open Championship in St Andrews.
The exhibition – ‘Following the Open’ – traces the post-war history of golf at St Andrews through the great characters who have walked the Old Course fairways, brilliantly portrayed by artist Harold Riley.
Harold Riley first visited The Open as a young boy in St Andrews in 1946 and the exhibition contains a vivid collection of 85 pieces which capture the colour, the drama and the personalities which have graced this unique sporting arena.
‘Following the Open’ will be exhibited at the Fraser Gallery, South Street, St Andrews www.frasergallery.co.uk from July 12-25 to coincide with the 150th Open Championship. The exhibition is supported by Alfred Dunhill which has supported golf at St Andrews for 26 years and in October will be celebrating the 10th year of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
From Salford in Greater Manchester, the same town as L S Lowry with whom he enjoyed a long friendship, Harold studied at the Slade, in Florence and in Spain before returning to Salford where he has lived ever since.
He says: “My relationship with St Andrews, Alfred Dunhill and The Open championship stretches back for more than 50 years. It has been one of the joys of my life to go there and meet people, see the place and watch golf on the world’s most historic course. I always tell my friends that I do not know anyone who visited St Andrews that did not fall in love with the place. I certainly have been in love with St Andrews since the first time I went there.”
The works are made up of studies in various media such as watercolour, gouache, pencil and ink, a number of illustrated letters, monographs and works of mixed media. Among the great golfers who feature in the collection are Sam Snead, the winner in 1946, Henry Cotton, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo.
As a young man Riley played in the junior teams at Manchester United football club and retained a love of sport which spread into his art. He has amassed a vast amount of work which has never been seen and is kept in an archive at the University of Salford. His intention is to leave the main body of his work in a collection in the city.
Christoper Colfer, Chief Executive Officer of Alfred Dunhill, said: “It is our pleasure to support this remarkable exhibition. Harold Riley is a phenomenon. Rarely have sport and art come together so harmoniously in one man’s work. Harold Riley’s love of golf comes over strikingly in his art and I am sure that everyone who visits this exhibition will be as impressed as I have been. The collection demonstrates one man’s devotion to his work and to his love of golf.”
Harold Riley’s connection with Alfred Dunhill goes back more than 15 years, where he has recorded in his own inimitable style many of the highlights of the Alfred Dunhill Cup and latterly the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which is played every autumn at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. Alfred Dunhill has supported golf at St Andrews for 26 years and in October will be celebrating the 10th year of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Mr Colfer added: “I am delighted to say that the exhibition will receive an encore in October to be viewed and enjoyed by the many international guests who will be coming to our own championship.”
Louise Fraser, of the Fraser Gallery, commented: “This collection of work is unique; it captures not only the iconic characters who have played at this prestigious event, but the very essence of the competition, the course and the town of St Andrews. It would be true to say that Harold is considered the most important painter seriously involving himself in the golf scene, and this is a rare opportunity to see first hand works that have never been available to view before.”
Limited edition signed Harold Riley print posters will be available to buy on www.dunhill.com throughout The Open week.
Harold Riley Archive www.rileyarchive.com