Harold played a pivotal role in promoting photography in the North West during the 70s and 80s, inviting key international figures to contribute to exhibitions. The show includes a section devoted to photography festival Salford 80 and Riley's instrumental role in this.
This photography retrospective also includes images by figures such as André Kertész and Walker Evans, whom Riley knew and whose work played a part in shaping his own photographic ‘eye'. A constant theme evident throughout the exhibition is Harold's openness to experimentation over the years, demonstrated through his use of different papers, surfaces, size and format.
The exhibition features a wide-ranging selection of pictures from around the world from a gardener in Cape Town, posters in Venice, a street market in Bruges, Jerusalem in 1968, to nuns in Ireland and ballet rehearsals in Manchester. Harold spent three months in 1968 on a greyhound bus travelling around America and captured a range of images. These include a cable car in San Francisco, a taxi in New York City, a view from the train in Chicago and a surfer in Malibu.
Harold is well known as a distinguished portrait painter of prominent people, and this exhibition shows his exploration of portraiture within photography. Images include that of Elliot Richardson, Attorney General at the time of President Nixon and a prominent figure in the Watergate scandal. A photograph of footballer Denis Law shows him positioned in danger on a railway line which was Riley's way of suggesting how Denis faced risks in his role every day. Harold's favourite portrait is the Glasgow Chief Librarian in 1980, taken in situ at the Mitchell Library.
In 1980 Harold single-handedly created a photography festival, Salford 80 involving more than twenty separate new exhibitions which were shown throughout Manchester and Salford and described by The Sunday Times as ‘the greatest photographic exhibition ever shown'. During this period Harold Riley developed close friendships with many people involved in international photography and particularly with André Kertesz in New York, whose retrospective at Salford 80 was one of the highlights of the exhibition.
Salford born artist Harold Riley was a great friend of LS Lowry and, for many years, both men were interested in capturing the street scenes around their hometown. This exhibition includes a series of Riley's photos of LS Lowry including the two of them playing football. Harold commented that Lowry was quite a good dribbler as he was very knock kneed, and you didn't know which way he was going! Riley spent many hours with Lowry in his studio in Mottram in Longdendale, photographs of which are also included in the show.
The exhibition also features a number of films and television documentaries on the work of Harold Riley.
Since his first box cameras, Harold has kept every camera he has ever owned and this exhibition will include a selection of those he has used over the decades.