Harold Riley attended Salford Grammar School after being born in Salford in 1934. When he was 11, he sold his first artwork to the City Art Gallery. In 1951, he was awarded a scholarship at University College London’s Slade School of Fine Art. He received a travel scholarship to Italy after completing a one-year postgraduate program at the Slade, then a British Council Scholarship to study in Spain, and went on to study in Florence and Spain before returning to Salford, where he has resided ever since. Harold received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Salford, Manchester, and Florence, and served in the army as an officer until 1957.
Harold moved back to Salford in 1960, where he currently lives and works. His primary goal, he thought, was to use paintings, sketches, and photos to record the city and his life in Salford. Harold’s great love for his hometown forged a relationship with L.S. Lowry, which started while Harold was a student and lasted until the end of the twentieth century. Together, they embarked on a project to document the region and its inhabitants, which Harold maintained until the end of the century.