Sydney Harry

Pioneering colour theorist and artist, Sydney Harry, lectured at Bradford College of Art.

Sydney HarrySydney was born in Leeds in 1912 and studied fine art, photography and woven textile design at the College of Art there, before opening a design and colour services studio. He then came to Bradford College of Art as a Senior Lecturer teaching Woven Textile Design, Colour and Photography.

In the early 1960s as his professional practice of art and textiles progressed he developed theories about colour which he tested by experimenting with weaving and gouache media. His reputation spread and he was invited by WD Wright,
Professor of Applied Optics at Imperial College, London to join The Colour Group of Great Britain in 1968.

Sydney rarely exhibited as his interest was theoretical rather than commercial but he was in great demand as a speaker. Over a 15 year period from 1969 he lectured at Goldsmiths College, London, Royal College of Art, Leicester College of Art, Leicester Polytechnic, Bath Academy of Art, Barry Summer Schools, Nottingham College of Art, St. Martin’s School of Art, Portsmouth College of Art, Maidstone College of Art, University College, Cardiff, Leeds University, Canterbury College of Art, Hornsey College of Art, West Surrey College of Art, Central School of Art, ICI Paints Division, Manchester, Embroiderers Guild, Design Council Colour Conferences (Carpets), University of Stockholm, Design Council (Architects & Designers), International Wallpaper Manufacturers’ Association, British Colour Education Institute, London (British Colour Council) and Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting, London.

Failing health slowed him down in 1984, though he kept working until his death in 1991.

The Society of Dyers and Colourists gave the first major exhibition of Sydney’s paintings from 1920s to the 1980s at their Bradford Colour Experience in October 2006. When the SDC opened their new Perkin Suite (to celebrate the achievements of Sir William Henry Perkin, the man who discovered the first synthetic dye) at their Bradford HQ in January 2008, Sydney’s daughter, Brigid delivered one of his original lectures, The Magic of Colour complete with his props and original materials.

Photograph courtesy of the Society of Dyers and Colourists.