Born in Salford in 1934, Harold Riley sold his first painting to the City Art Gallery when he was 11. At 17, he won a scholarship to the Slade and went on to study in Florence and Spain before returning to Salford, where he has lived ever since. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Salford, Manchester, London and Florence.
His deep affection for his home town cemented a friendship with L S Lowry which began when Riley was a student. Together they worked on a project to record the area and its people, a project which Riley continued until the end of the twentieth century.
Alongside this portrayal of ordinary working lives, Riley developed his reputation as a portraitist of the rich and famous. He has painted popes, American presidents and royalty. His sporting works, particularly golf and football, are also very sought after.
Thanks to Salford City Council, an archive and studio have been created for Riley in a conservation area around the old Fire Station. Here he will continue to work and here his drawings, paintings and photographs of the city will be housed, as well as his extensive collection of sports studies.