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Salford artist unveils £1.5m collection at The Mere.
The Mere Golf Resort and Spa launched its new private dining room and event space at a special dinner showcasing Harold Riley’s art collection.
The private room has been specially named after Mr Riley as a tribute to the long standing family friendship between him and the Boler family and is being celebrated by housing a permanent display of sixty unique pieces of art, worth £1.5 million.
The pieces reveal a series of personal letters and sketching from Mr Riley to his brother, which started just after the Second World War and chronicle different golf tournaments across the world, capturing many of the great and the good in world golf championships.
“To me, these pictures are priceless and it was important for me to keep this collection of works together in one place,” Harold said.
“My family and I have a long history with The Mere and I am delighted to be able to display them in this special room and mark the launch of The Mere’s new private dining and event space. It also means a great deal to me to keep them close by in the north west.”
Mr Riley was born in Salford in 1934 and started his career at the age of 17 when he won a scholarship to the Slade College of Fine Art in London and went on to study in Florence and Spain before returning to Salford, where he has lived ever since.
As a student he became a good friend of fellow Salfordian L. S. Lowry and 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.
Riley developed his reputation as a portraitist of many rich and famous people including popes, presidents and royalty most notably Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II. His sporting works include portraits of George Best and Lord Sebastien Coe, but golf in particular has always been a passion of the artist.
He has painted many of the greatest golfers in some of the best contests around the world including Jack Nicklaus, perhaps the best golfer of all time. Harold Riley has become known internationally as probably the most famous painter of golf.
“It is an honour for us to have this prestigious collection on display here at The Mere,” said Mark Boler, owner of The Mere.
“Our friendship with Harold goes back a long while through a shared love of golf and it is very fitting that these pictures have found a home here in the Riley Room.
“I am very proud tonight to see the many years of hard work redeveloping the resort culminate in such a fitting evening as we proudly showcase our private dining and event space.”
The Riley room is a self-contained space which lends itself to private dinners and intimate events and can accommodate small groups through to a party of 60 people.