THE WONDER OF COLOUR
SDC Colour Experience, Bradford, plays host to the first major exhibition of Sydney Harry paintings
THE FIRST major
exhibition of the paintings of one of the country’s leading colour
theorists, Sydney Harry, goes on display at the SDC Colour Experience,
Bradford, on 27 October 2006. The exhibition will be in two distinct
Sydney Harry: ‘The Early Years’
The exhibition, a lifetime’s work, covers paintings from the 1920s
to the 1980s and can be viewed by appointment (please telephone 01274
390955). The exhibition runs until the end of December.
Born in Leeds in 1912, Sydney attended Leeds College of Art where he studied fine art, photography and woven textile design. On leaving college he set up his own design and colour services studio in Leeds following which he was offered a full-time teaching post at Bradford College of Art where he became a senior lecturer in woven textile design and colour as well as photography.
In 1963, as a result of his work with woven textiles Sydney began to treat colour as a subject in its own right, experimenting with his colour theories both in weaving and gouache media. He began lecturing outside of the Leeds and Bradford areas and became increasingly well known within colour circles resulting, through his friendship with WD Wright, professor of applied optics at Imperial College, London and founder member of
The Colour Group of Great Britain, in him becoming a member of the group in 1968.
More lectures followed both nationally and internationally including in 1969 at the University of Stockholm where he presented a paper entitled, ‘Optical Mixtures and Colour Shifts in Modern Painting and Design’ at The Colour 69 AIC Congress. Also that year, he lectured at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting in London. This was a lecture arranged through his friendship with both Harry Thubron and Maurie de Sausmarez. Bridget Riley, whom he later visited with Peter Sedgeley, also attended this lecture.
Sydney continued to lecture up until 1984 at a huge number of establishments throughout the country including Goldsmiths College, St Martin’s School of Art, Bath Academy of Art, the Design Council, the British Colour Council and the Royal College of Art.
In 1984, ill health severely limited his lecturing programme but he continued to paint and experiment with his theories right up until his death in 1991.
Throughout his career Sydney’s work rarely went on exhibition – he had an academic rather than a commercial interest in his work, so this opportunity to view almost his entire life work is an exciting one for both the SDC Colour Experience and for those who have long been admirers of his theories as it presents a first opportunity to see their development through his work.
The work itself is obviously highly colourful but in turn detailed and painstakingly executed. Many resemble the pop art dramatic canvases of the 1960s whilst many simply draw the eye to the wonder of colour and how individual colours work and react with each other – often his paintings employ no more than three or four colours and yet on first glance the whole spectrum of the colour palette seems to have been used.
Sydney’s work is not only an exercise in colour theory but also dramatic and hugely stylish as works of art – the pieces are timeless in their appeal as both contemporary pieces of art and as one of the most complete demonstrations of the creative and calculated use of colour.
SYDNEY HARRY (1912–1991)
huge number of venues including:
(Harry did not
exhibit much, having an academic rather than a commercial
interest in his work.)
Contributions to publications :
1969 New Scientist. cover