Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Britain says "Farewell" to the brilliant Rosemary Cramp who, more than any other Archaeologist, opened its eyes to the Anglo Saxons

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Rosemary, who has died at the age of ninety-three, was determined, from the 1950s onwards, to put the neglected Anglo Saxons in their rightful place in the History of England. As a result, no other British 
scholar can more truly be said to have transformed the subject and no one else has been more innovative in relating archaeological study to other disciplines. In 2017, after her lifetime's work she was able to say :"I am glad that Anglo-Saxon England is seen as what it is: the beginning of everything that was English. So much of our laws and our statutes started there. Our parishes and our settlement patterns were laid down then. And in spite of the Norman Conquest, vigorously and rigorously people continued to speak and write in English, and maintained what had been some of the earliest vernacular literature in Europe".

Rosemary was born the daughter of Vera and Robert in the spring of 1929 in the village of Cranoe and said that she came from : "A
 very deeply rooted farming background. My father was a farmer, my grandfather was a farmer, my great-grandfather was a farmer, and so on. I lived in the country at a place called Glooston, near Market Harborough in Leicestershire". She said : "I think I was always meant to be an archaeologist. When I was a very little girl all I wanted for my birthday was the Detective Set". (link)

In 1940, she gained a place at King Edward VII Grammar School in Market Harborough and said that, in the following year : "When I was about twelve, I became an archaeologist – or I thought I did – because we found a Roman villa on our land. To be strictly truthful, my sister said she had found some nice things for the floor of the little house which we were building, as children do in the country". She said she had found the pilae tiles of a Roman building and : "At least I thought it ought to be Roman. I only had a children’s encyclopaedia, and I looked it up there. Then I went to see the Rector, as the most learned person in the village. Like most rectors, he took away part of the Roman things and put them in his garden".

"I thought I ought to report this find to somebody else. The only archaeologist I had ever heard of was Kathleen Kenyon, who had been digging in Leicester. She sent me back the first typewritten letter I had ever received, saying : 

So we dispensed with the Rector, and the site lay fallow until I was about to go to Oxford University. Then an aged man came, saying he was a real archaeologist – he had dug with Mortimer Wheeler. We dug another wavering trench into the site, and found more wall and this was reported in the Market Harborough Advertiser".

In 1946, just after the end of the Second World War she gained a place to study as an Arts undergraduate for an English Language and Literature degree at St Anne's College, Oxford. She recalled : "When I got to Oxford, I received a note from the Ashmolean Museum Saying, ‘Dear Miss Cramp, Will you come and visit me? M.V. Taylor’. Rosemary's attendance at the University had come to the attention of archaeologist Margerie Venables Taylor who had written a large number of articles for archaeological journals, had edited the 'Journal of Roman Studies' and contributed material on Roman Britain to the 'Victoria County Histories'. (link)

Rosemary recalled : "I thought, ‘Now, I am an archaeologist.’ Miss Taylor had been assistant to F.J. Haverfield, and was now an elderly woman. When I went to see her, I saw to my slight embarrassment the Market Harborough Advertiser spread in front of her, with this picture of me leaning on a spade and the caption: ‘SHE IS GOING TO OXFORD’ Miss Taylor said, "You think you have found a Roman villa. What makes you think it is a villa?’" I didn’t know there was anything except Roman villas, so she destroyed that thought. She asked if I had been taught to survey? "No". Could I draw sections? "No". She went through everything an archaeologist ought to be able to do, and then said, "I think you had better be trained". 

As a result, while still studying for her English Language Lit. Degree, Rosemary attended the archaeological field school held at Corbridge, Northumberland and was an active member of the Oxford University Archaeological Society which she said was : "A brilliant Society at that time, with many people involved in it going on to be professional archaeologists". 

 At this stage, for Rosemary, archaeology was not the main  focus of her studies, as she said : "I hadn’t known whether to read History or English at Oxford – I liked both – and in the end had plumped for English. At the end of my first year, I was taught by Dorothy Whitelock. She told me I should specialise in ‘Course II’, which ranged from primitive Germanic to Spenser". 

Rosemary graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949. One of her tutors had been the author Iris Murdoch who thirty years later went on the dedicate her 1979 novel, 'The Sea' to Rosemary. 
As a mark of her brilliance as a student, she remained at St Anne's, where Iris was a fellow and taught philosophy and Rosemary studied for a postgraduate Bachelor of Letters degree under Christopher Hawkes, who had been appointed as Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford three years before. She said at this point : "I realised that my interest in archaeology and my interest in Anglo-Saxon were coming together. I taught my students a lot about the historical background and the archaeological evidence. In those days, there weren’t many people bringing those two together. And then, working with Christopher Hawkes, I started a B.Litt. thesis which had the catchy title :  ‘SOME ASPECTS OF OLD ENGLISH VOCABULARY IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE'". 
Her first paper, on ‘Beowulf and Archaeology’, focused on the epic poem set in pagan Scandinavia in the 6th century where Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, came to the aid of Hrothgar, the King of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by the monster Grendel. It was published in 1957 when she was twenty-eight and the paper brimmed with erudition : 

By this time she had embarked on her career in academia as tutor in English at St Anne’s College, Oxford and said of herself : "When I was 21, I turned from being a disorganised undergraduate to being a disorganised young don, teaching Anglo-Saxon at St Anne’s College, Oxford ". 

From Oxford, Rosemary moved to Durham University and recalled : "A rather strange job came up in Durham. It required you to be able to teach History, English and a fledgling Archaeology group. On Christopher Hawkes’s advice, I applied rather half-heartedly, got it, and a bit reluctantly came north. After a few years, we started an Archaeology course on its own, and then broadened that into what became, I’d like to think, a great Archaeology department". Rosemary recalled, with the Anglo Saxons in mind : "When I first came to the North I was pointed out by the Romanists and Prehistorians as "The girl coming to study the paper cup culture, because there was nothing there".(link)

In fact, it was in 1956, that with Eric Birley, the Hadrian's Wall expert, she set up the Archaeology Department at Durham. It would be where she would spend the rest of her teaching career, first as lecturer and then from 1971, at the age of forty-two, as Professor Cramp and, as the first female professor in the history of the university, she helped build the department into one the best in Britain. 

From the start, Rosemary was very clear about what was needed from her students (link).  As Professor 
Éamonn Ó Carragáin of  University College Cork said in 2003 : "If in the seventh century the Abbess Hild made the monastery at Whitby into a training place of bishops, Rosemary Cramp made Archaeology at Durham into a training place of such scholars as Richard Bailey, Ray Page, Deirdre O’Sullivan and the late Jim Lang. The Department was particularly active in encouraging Durham city and town to become aware of the historical significance of the surrounding area". He said that, to this end, she had always been involved in the prestigious 'Jarrow Lectures', held yearly on or near Bede’s feast-day, in the church at Jarrow, where Bede once sang.

At Durham, geographically, she had found herself in an area rich in Anglo Saxon possibilities. The Venerable Bede, imagined in this 12th-century illustration in a copy of his 'Life of St Cuthbert', was the eight century English monk, whose 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People' earned him the title of 'Father of English History'. And Bede once lived and worked only 20 miles north at the monastery of St Paul at Monkwearmouth–Jarrow Abbey in Tyne and Wear in the Angle Kingdom of Northumbria. Rosemary admitted : "It was certainly a great thrill living so near to where Bede was, and Durham itself is a town that is steeped in Anglo-Saxon history. I have stayed and been very happy here".

She told James Rivington in 2019 : "I was extremely lucky to have fall into my lap the excavations at both sites of the double monastery of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow. Although at both Monkwearmouth and Jarrow there are still the churches that date, in part, anyway, from the 7th century, there is nothing left of the monastic buildings on either site. Indeed, no one knew where they were. We know a certain amount from Bede about the Monkwearmouth-Jarrow monastic community, and people used to say to me : "It must be nice for you digging a site that Bede has talked about"; but he tells you nothing about how it was laid out".

She recalled : "At Monkwearmouth, when I worked on the south side of the church, the houses were still occupied, and I was digging in people’s backyards; it was sometimes difficult to get access to them, but eventually you were nobody unless you had a trench in your yard". To police the site, Rosemary employed the kind of down-to-earth practical solution you would expect from a farmer's daughter and said :"We recruited small children to look after the trenches at night. As a reward they were allowed to trowel through the barrows of excavated soil to see if any bit of pot had been missed and tipped in with it; sometimes they found them. And when they had done three years of that, I had a special trench in which they could learn how to trowel properly. I have always involved the local communities in my digs. You can show them the past and make them enthused about it, part of it and willing to protect it, all of which is important".

Simultaneously, Rosemary now took on the dig at the monastery at Jarrow where she found that the Ministry of Works had restored the existing buildings and made them safe and she now wanted to date them which was all she was asked to do. She started with a couple of trial trenches and then the next year, in 1965, dug inside a building and found, underneath the walls, another stone structure and one with an 'opus signinum floor', which she knew would be Anglo-Saxon. She said : "Nothing stopped me after that. I dropped the idea of just dating the standing buildings, and went for trying to find the plan of the monastery".(link)

Four years later, in 1969 she took the opportunity to explain the excavations at Jarrow to the Mayor of the town. No doubt she would have told him that Wearmouth–Jarrow was the creation of Northumbrian nobleman Benedict Biscop between 628 and 690 A.D. who had visited Rome and was inspired by the Christian life he saw there. In 674 he had approached King Ecgfrith of Northumbria to ask for a gift of land for a monastery and was first given a large estate to found St Peter’s, Wearmouth. Then in 681 he received land at Jarrow to found St Paul’s and the twin monastery probably once owned much of the land between the rivers Tyne and Wear. Biscop brought stonemasons and glaziers from France, who created some of the first stone buildings in Northumbria since the Roman period. 

Rosemary's excavations revealed that the earliest monastery had two churches, lying parallel to two large buildings, with a guesthouse close to the river. She knew that it was not uncommon for Anglo-Saxon monasteries to have more than one church. The larger one may have served local people as well as the monk with the smaller church was perhaps reserved exclusively for monks, or may have been used as a funerary chapel. Of the two other large buildings, one had settings in the floor that might have supported seating and food debris such as fish bones was also found, suggesting that this was a refectory. The other building contained a large, finely decorated room, probably used as a communal hall with a central stone seat from which the abbot may have presided over meetings of the monks. Each building may have had an upper floor containing dormitories. 

The guesthouse by the riverside was finely decorated with painted plaster and coloured glass windows. Craft and industrial activity such as metal- and glass-working also took place on the riverside and there was evidence for terraced gardens on the south-facing slope towards the river, where vegetables and herbs were likely to have been grown. Rosemary had been working at Jarrow for nearly a decade when she fell upon fragments of shattered glass during 1973-74, which she said were : “Like jewels lying on the ground". They remain the largest quantity found among comparable sites in Europe and the fragments were joined together by craftsmen in the 1980s to make a seven inch diameter window which was displayed in the surviving Anglo-Saxon chancel in St.Paul's Church, Jarrow.

The dig at Jarrow continued over a number of seasons, with the last dig when Rosemary was fifty-five in 1984. She said : "It was a large part of my life, and hundreds of students went through this experience". Apparently, students working on the site were given a ration of strawberries and ice cream during their breaks and when one student found his lunch topped up with tomatoes he was told by Rosemary : "I will not have scurvy on one of my digs". By this time Rosemary had a very clear view of what it meant to be an archaeologist. (link)

It was in 1984 that she founded the 
'Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture'. Rosemary recalled : "The idea of recording the pre-Conquest stone sculpture of England came up when I was still teaching in Oxford. V.E. Nash-Williams had just published his book on 'The Early Christian Monuments of Wales', and he came to lecture in Oxford. He said : "Something like that needs to be done for England. You should try it". As soon as I got to Durham, I looked around for a research project that would be suitable. We do have in this region an extensive collection of carved Anglo-Saxon stones, and I decided that, with the help of my first two research students, Richard Bailey and Jim Lang, we would try to record these".(link)

With her project partners, Rosemary took on the counties of Durham and Northumberland, Richard Bailey, Cumbria and Jim Lang on the East Riding of Yorkshire. By 2019 Rosemary reported : "To date we have recorded 3,528 stones from 1,101 sites – an extraordinary wealth of material". One of these was the 'Lichfield Angel' discovered in 2003 and now in Lichfield Cathedral and another found in Somerset was being used to mark the grave of a pet cat.(link)

In terms of methodology, Rosemary said : "We first look at written records, to see if we can find things that have been written up long ago and forgotten. Then there is fieldwork, which usually takes many years for each volume. In some areas, every medieval church has been looked at, to make absolutely certain nothing has been missed. It has been a remarkable effort by my colleagues, because they are only paid their travel expenses and they normally give up their holidays. Once the project is known, people do ring you up and ask, ‘Do you know about this?’ And this can be very helpful. We also answer a lot of queries from the curators of sculpture sites".

Rosemary lamented the way that Saxon sculpture had been neglected and said : "After the Norman Conquest, because the Normans, so miserably, I think, despised Anglo-Saxon architecture, pieces were built into walls and they have emerged later. At the Reformation, a lot were destroyed, as Popish monuments. So, many sculptures are shattered fragments. This contrasts with Ireland, where so many crosses are still standing in their place".

Back in 1993, determined to interest the public in the Anglo Saxons she became involved in the £10 million 'Bede's World' attraction at Jarrow which drew 70,000 visitors a year. It ran into financial trouble in 2016 and since opened under new management with a broader interest base as 'Jarrow Hall'. 

She always 
insisted that Anglo-Saxon culture must be seen in its continental context  and wrote eloquently on ‘Northumbria and Ireland’. There is no doubt that She transformed our understanding of early medieval monastic culture : its iconography, sculpture, architecture, manuscripts, and spirituality. 
Professor Éamonn Ó Carragáin recalled that : "On the first University College Cork study tour of the City of Rome in 1994, she entered the early medieval basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin for the first time and electrified the medievalists present by explaining in vivid detail how the basilica gave one a good impression of what the church at Wearmouth must have looked like in the time of Benedict Biscop and Bede. We can truly apply to her the words which Bede used of Benedict Biscop, the founder of Wearmouth and Jarrow : 'As often as (s)he crossed the sea, (s)he never returned, as is the custom with some people, empty-handed and without profit’ ".

Rosemary said : 

"My life wasn’t anything planned. It emerged in the shape that it did. I was the first female professor of archaeology – happily there are now plenty of them"

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 In grateful thanks to James Rivington's interview with Rosemary for the British Academy in 2019

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Monday, 24 April 2023

Britain says "Farewell' to the painter and much-loved son of Salford, Harold Riley

Over a 65 year career as an artist, Harold's talent wasn't confined to painting, he also excelled as an accomplished, lithographer, graphic artist and was a noted photographer. When he was eleven years old he met the fifty seven year old L.S. Lowry, the revered artist of the industrial districts of North West England and went on to form a friendship with him when he was as an art student. Harold was determined to continue his hero’s mission to create a visual archive of, in his case, the changing face of the Greater Manchester city of Salford. 
* * * * * *
Harold, who has died at the age of eighty-eight, was born, a few days before Christmas 1934, into a working class family in a deprived area of the city in the County of Lancashire. The economy of the city was focused on its cotton and silk spinning and weaving factory district in the 18th and 19th centuries, but by the time of his birth, in the 'Hungry 1930s', it was suffering from industrial decline.

Harold said : "In a town like Salford you either lived in what was a relatively poorer district or you lived in the more affluent area and we always lived and I grew up in a poorer district and I think that marked me. As Wordsworth said, that the child being the father of the man. I think that what happened was that I found it very difficult to never be able to disassociate the impressions from those years from my mind and as a romantic, basically it's always had a very great influence. It made a love of scene and it's a love-hate relationship because I realise it's very ugly on the one hand, but I can never get away from the excitement of it".(link)

Many years later when he was painting a portrait of Nelson Mandela he said : “When he sat he was happy to talk. We spoke of Salford and got round to slums. He said "We have townships". I said "Mr Mandela those are not slums. I know what a slum is because I come from an area that was called a classic slum".

A bright lad at junior school, Harold gained a place at Salford Grammar School for Boys, during the Second World War, in 1944. Already showing great artistic promise, in the same year he first met the Lancashire artist L S Lowry, who awarded him first prize at the School's art exhibition in 1945. Lowry then invited young Harold to Salford Museum and Art Gallery, where he persuaded the curator Albert Frape to buy Harold’s winning  picture for one pound and ten shillings. After Frape took the two notes from his wallet and handed them to Harold, on the way home he bought a new plaid shirt from the Co-op. Two years later Harold met Lowry again, this time when he, Harold, had an exhibition of his work at the Art Gallery.(link) 

It was in these years that he painted the pictures of his younger brother Michael, playing marbles or 'alleys' as Harold called them and also his Grandfather, who he described as “a very hard man” and his father, who apparently smoked 80 cigarettes a day. When he was eight or nine years old during the War, his interest in photography began when his father bought him a box camera and showed him how to develop the film and it wasn't long after graduating from photographing the family, that he moved on to snapping street scenes. (link)

Talented at sport, his later football paintings were mainly linked with Manchester United, with whom he played as a junior, before, at the age of seventeen in 1951 he won a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London to study for an Art degree specialising in Lithography and Etching. In the year of his graduation, 1954, he got a job as an extra on a film set along with his old grammar school friend, two years his junior, the future stage and film actor Albert Finney. The film was the classic romantic comedy 'Hobson’s Choice', directed by David Lean and as extras, they were picked to lead the street parade. (link) The outdoor location scenes, including the parade were filmed around the Salford area and the interiors were shot at Shepperton Studios near London.

Harold took his Catholicism, which stayed with him all his life, to London and the Slade and his adherence to its religion suffused his attitude towards his art. He said : "The people in the place I paint is really something to do with the mark society has had on people living in that circumstance. That's to say, they live in a very poor way. Now in living in a very poor way, the thing I want to paint isn't their poverty. It's not the miscellaneous rubbish that they live amongst. The thing that I want to paint or try to find, is the human mark of the human spirit in that situation. It isn't a political statement to say that "They are wrongfully treated" and it isn't a social comment to say : "Let's get them out of that situation". It's merely, in a sense, an observation. To say : "This is what the human being in such a situation can do and reveal the more beautiful elements of humanity in such a state".(link)

After he graduated with his art degree in 1954 he followed a one-year postgraduate course at London University and in 1955 he won a travel scholarship to Italy, followed by a British Council Scholarship to study in Spain before returning to Salford, where he lived for the rest of his long life. 

On his return, he began his two years National Service in the Army during which time he became a non-commissioned officer and when he was demobbed in 1960, he was advised by Lowry against taking a job teaching art in Cheltenham and instead settled for a part-time post in Salford, teaching two days a week. In 1962 he married an Austrian student, Hannelore Reuter, and moved into the remains of a coachhouse, which they restored with the help of friends and stood in a more affluent area in Salford, behind some grand Victorian homes, 

Making his way as a professional artist, Harold repaid the support he had received from Ted Frape by showing his work exclusively at Salford City Art Gallery. He also offered his work to local sponsors and friends who had first pick at private views and their popularity meant that his pictures were sold out before the exhibitions opened to the public. His stature as an artist led him to receive commissions to paint : Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and Popes : John XIII, Paul VI and John Paul II and United States Presidents John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford. It was in 1962 that the twenty-eight year old Harold, had sketched in pastels, Kennedy, the year before he was assassinated.

Harold said : “Painting a portrait is rather like telling a person exactly what you think of him to his face. It’s embarrassing, especially as most people don’t want a true picture of themselves, but something that flatters them”. Harold was proud that he never did. 

His portrait of John Paul II was completed after two sessions with the Pope in Rome, in which they discussed everything from previous pontiffs to football. In 2005 Harold told the Manchester Evening News : "He didn't chat away the whole time, but what he said was said with quiet authority and great humour. That's what struck me forcibly throughout the sittings - the absolute conviction and strength of a man, tied in with his humanity and sense of fun" and "He was utterly charismatic - everyone says that, but it can't be stressed enough. That is what shone through when you met him and I count it the greatest honour of my life that I had the privilege to meet him". 

He also said that Salford kept his feet on the ground and "I can go to the Vatican to paint the Pope but I still have to go to the chippy across the road when I come home". No doubt the chippy was 'Neil's Friery - a chip shop on Langworthy Road'.

In 1962 Harold painted the actress Violet Carson in character as Coronation Street’s Ena Sharples, complete with hairnet, a portrait he presented to Manchester Art Gallery in 1994. Two years before, in 1960, he had, in fact, produced a drawing of Archie Street in Ordsall, the street which inspired the popular soap opera, 'Coronation Street', which was broadcast by Granada Television for the first time in that year. The drawing had the odd figure by LS Lowry, together with the written notes made by Harold Riley concerning the scene around the edges. 

Harold found that by accepting commissions for three formal portraits annually, made money and left him free to undertake other work for the rest of the year. That 'other work' included, in 1963, advertising in the local paper for Salford scenes from family albums and receiving an unprecedented response. 

He started to document Salford in paintings, drawings and photographs and his deep affection for his home town cemented the friendship with L.S. Lowry. Of the black and white sketch he originally made in 1961 he said : “I remember a man pushing a lady in a wheelchair down Langworthy Road. It was Christmas and they hurried home. She was wrapped in a plaid blanket and he had a green cap and a United scarf. Their little black dog was tied to the wheelchair and trotted along so that the lady happily held the Christmas tree they had bought.” It was later re-worked in colour for a limited edition card for 'Age Concern' in Salford.

Also, in the 1960s he said : “One afternoon I was walking with Lowry near the old Albion dog track in Salford, where greyhounds raced. It was near the Manchester Racecourse at Castle Irwell. On a croft opposite there used to be held dog fights. As we passed there that day a dog fight was going on, watched by a large crowd, and Lowry was very interested in it. We both stood on the other side of the road and watched. Because Lowry had been intrigued by it, I did a painting of it and presented it to him the following Christmas as a gift." Apparently, he adored and 'Dog Fight' and it sat for a decade on his mantelpiece having captured a slice of 1960s life in Salford.

He was with Lowry when he was inspired to paint 'The Red House' in 1968. He recalled :  “Lowry and I had gone to Pendlebury. We planned to do a drawing of Acme Mill - the first electrically powered spinning mill in the world. It was featured in a very famous painting by Lowry, from George Street. But on the day we went there we discovered it had been demolished. So instead I did a painting of a nearby street, which had a prominent red house”.

In 1970 Harold captured Lowry walking on Swinton Moss and the old man died six years later at the age of eighty-nine. He was an all-pervading influence on Harold's early work which featured bleak street scenes peopled by cloth-capped matchstick figures in sooty blues and greys and with Lowryesque titles redolent of a vanishing industrialised landscape. 

In 1962 : 'Young Street Urchin Carrying a Basket' and 'Knife Grinder, Street Scene with Numerous Figures' in 1970. Harold referred to the streets as ‘theatres of colour’. He said that his attitude towards his subjects was different to that of Lowry, in that Lowry painted as a outsider looking in and Harold himself was an observer within the crowd. (link) In 1975 Greater Manchester Council awarded him £15,000 to draw and photograph local life before it disappeared for good. The deal called for Harold to produce some 40 images over three years.

At the end of the 1960s, when he was in his mid-thirties, Harold was not best pleased to be named by the 'Financial Times' among half a dozen young artists whose works were 'likely to show the greatest profits in future years'. He described this apparent accolade as : “A terrible bloody nuisance” and complained that dealers had contacted him to order paintings by the dozen, to the extent that he had disconnected his telephone.

By 1980 the accumulation of submitted material and his own portfolio formed the basis of an exhibition, opened by the Duke of Edinburgh as Chancellor of Salford University, called 'Salford 80'. In the same year, Harold spent a month away from Salford, living on the top floor of a Glasgow tenement recording the life of that city, sketching, painting and using an instant camera and a 35 mm one photographing Glaswegian scenes and people.

Harold met Nelson Mandela 21 times, between 1996 and the final sitting at Houghton Golf Course in Johannesburg in 2002 and on six of those visits and over a period of 18 months, created the 23 drawings of him in preparation for painting and was the only artist in the world to be given that commission. When he first met him, Harold said : "He was reading the newspaper in a comfortable chair in his lounge and he said : "What do you want me to do?" I said, "Just do what you're doing. Read the newspaper, Mr Mandela, and I'm going to draw""The resulting portrait sold for $1m in an auction at the Rockefeller Centre in New York and money from the sale went to the Imibala Charity in South Africa and was used to build a school.

Of their sessions together Harold said : "The first thing is - he was charismatic, unbelievably charismatic and you can't paint charisma. So you've got to find symbols which you could put into a picture which would say something in a way which would suggest humility"."If you're doing something like one of the greatest men who ever lived you must in fact not just make it iconic, but you must, in fact, make it real". "What I did find was that he instinctively had love. He had kindness and love in him. He loved life. He loved people. He liked to joke. He liked to laugh but somehow or other there was a feeling in him that he was believable. You're always at ease with someone you believe". (link)

He recalled one conversation when Mandela said : “Mr Riley I have been thinking about what you were saying about Wordsworth’s poem, 'The Prelude' and ‘the child being the father of the man’. “I have always believed it. That is why how we treat our children is always the greatest reflection of ourselves”. Harold said :  “I will always carry that comment in my heart”.

Three years after the death of Mandela in 2016, Harold published a limited-edition book of 50 copies, six years in the making and costing £17,500 per copy, recording the time he spent with Mandela, presenting the
 intimate portrait in words and drawings of the two men’s friendship and including reproductions of some of the 23 drawings he had made. Money from the sale of the book went to the Riley Educational Foundation, a registered charity set up to keep his work in Salford, and promote art in the north-west, including Salford schools. A slim book, it was bound in natural tanned calf leather by the same Florentine family business that made the bindings of the books of Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. Harold said : “The book contains the sketches and a dialogue about myself and President Mandela. I had the privilege of being the only person he ever sat for" and "He was a person with neither arrogance not vanity, but he didn’t miss much. He was very candid and forthright". 

When it came to football, over the years he produced portraits of several Old Trafford greats, including the veteran manager Matt Busby and the striker George Best. A subsequent manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was a keen collector of Riley’s work and owned more than a dozen of his pictures. In 2000 Harold presented Alex with a painting of the Cliff training ground, where many of Manchester United’s successes were planned. The Club has an extensive collection of his work, but the majority remains in Salford, where Harold established an archive and studio to house his paintings, drawings, photographs and sketch books. (link)

When he was eighty-three, Harold received the 'Freedom of the City of Salford'. He told the Manchester Evening News on the day he was given the accolade : “This is the greatest honour I have received - it is the highlight of my career. I love this city. I love its people.” Among those previously awarded the honour was his friend and mentor, L S Lowry back in 1965. Harold received it at Salford Museum in the company of Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law and Salford's then ceremonial mayor the late Councillor Peter Connor. (link)

On Harold's death his family said : 

"Salford has lost one of its most humble, compassionate and loving sons. Harold's light shone brightly for all to see and through the legacy of his art, it will never go out. He lived by simple principles: to love, to give and to serve every person equally no matter their position, colour, nationality or faith".

As Harold had said, his mission as an artist was  :

"To reveal the more beautiful elements of humanity".