Harry Reid (1935 – 1916) was born in Belfast and was a chartered surveyor by profession and worked for the Valuation and Land Agency. His interest in painting was inspired by his life in Bangor West, where he has lived for most of his adult life, surrounded by the beautiful seascapes and landscape of Co. Down.
His early work was mainly in watercolour exemplified in his ‘Self–Portrait’ 1995 for The National Self–Portrait Collection of Ireland. His exploration in art practice continued and he developed his skills in oil and later acrylic. Ever experimenting, he became interested in printmaking and honed his skill in the Seacroft Print Workshop in Bangor, exemplified in his monoprint, the abstract work ‘The Random Edge’ 1997 which he submitted to the Royal Ulster Academy’s diploma collection, after his election as Academician Supplemental in 1994. Two years later, he was elected Honorary Academician.
He had been exhibiting annually with the RUA before he held his first successful one–man exhibition in the Tower House, Bangor, in 1985. In the intervening years, he exhibited at the Arts Club Gallery, Dublin and the Ulster Arts Club and Malone House Gallery, Belfast. In March 1999 he showed monoprints, etchings, relief work and mixed media paintings at the Baytree Gallery, Holywood, Co. Down. He also exhibited in the Bell Gallery, Belfast.
His works are in collections in the USA, Canada, Ireland, England, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia. More specifically his works are in the University of Limerick, the Collection of the Department of the Environment (NI), the Ulster Television Collection and Paintings in Hospitals (Ireland) collection. He served as Chairman of the latter. He had many interests, in music, in the local choirs, in the scout movement and in the sport of badminton.
He is remembered most, by his fellow artists, for his steadfast devotion to the Royal Ulster Academy (RUA), serving as both registrar and secretary for eight years. It was in this role that I first became acquainted with Harry Reid when I worked in the Ulster Museum as the Visual Arts Education officer. I was able to give him valuable support in providing art classes, artist workshops, lectures and outreach programmes which focused on the works included in the RUA’s Annual Exhibition, which then, as now, hung in the galleries of the Ulster Museum. We became friends with a common goal, the Royal Ulster Academy.
I was honoured that Harry Reid made the effort to come in from Bangor, accompanied by his devoted wife Vera, to the Royal Ulster Academy’s AGM on 13th June to vote in my election as the incoming President of the Academy. I spoke to him a few times by telephone after that and saw him again when he delivered his two landscape paintings for this year’s exhibition, ‘Bogland Below Nephin, Beg, Mayo’ and ‘Mountains and Trees – Lough Conn’, the latter chosen as a large scale reproduction in the exhibition catalogue. Both of his paintings sold, a lasting statement to a member who had given so much and who still contributed, at age 80 years, to this, his last RUA exhibition. Hopefully, this continued success, gave him final satisfaction and joy. He will always be remembered as a gentleman, kind to all, inclusive and encouraging to other artists, including his next door neighbour, an RUA member, the young sculptor, Brendan Jamison.
The Royal Ulster Academy owes a debt of gratitude to Harry Reid for his unstinting support and work throughout the years, ensuring the sustainability of the Academy, without which, it would be poorer.
It is fitting that he passed away on Sunday 3rd January, the very last day of this year’s RUA annual exhibition at the Ulster Museum. He is survived by his wife, Vera, of 54 years and by his two daughters, Lesley and Zoe.