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 Harry Henriksen

Painter, sculptor, photographer, printmaker, draughtsman, secret poet, art teacher, mentor, conversationalist, (c)overt goon, eccentric,

founder of the An Tuireann Arts Centre, Portree, Isle-of-Skye, all-round humourist, humanist, humanitarian and well-kept secret.

In memoriam

​A practising chronic asthmatic, Harry Henriksen died on the 29th of January 2007 of a heart attack arising from an unhappy combination of angina pectoris brought on by a common cold and osteoporosis-induced invalidity (one of the side-effects of the long-term steroid intake needed to combat his condition).  True to form, he went out with a bang and nary a whimper. Departing at the age of 69 could not have been truer to his anarchic wit. 

The works

The retrospective - An Tuireann Arts Centre, Portree, Isle-of-Skye 2005

​With a last and, considering the state of his physical health, practically superhuman burst of creative energy and willpower, Harry Henriksen completed the last of his unfinished works ahead of his retrospective exhibition in the autumn of that year. 

2010 - present

Early retirement and life as a Hebridean housewife and artist

​Due to the collapse of his health in the mid 1970s Harry Henriksen was forced to take early retirement in 1978.

While this was a great loss for school life in Portree, the following period yielded some of the artist's core works, a short stay as Artist-in-Residence at the City Arts Centre, Edinburgh as part of Projectability in 1981 and culminating in a joint exhibition with Jake Jackson in Eden Court Theatre in 1988. Various of his works made it to foreign climes, but the hoped-for breakthrough into the city galleries did not emerge. He moved to Glasgow in 1990 with the hope of making a new artistic start but here too success was limited. He returned to Skye in 1994 where his health finally failed. His retrospective in 2005 would prove to be his swansong.

2010 - present

Deputy head of art - Portree High School - 1969 to 1978

​Harry Henriksen was a greatly beloved member of staff at the High School in Portree. With his indomitable mixture of humour, knowlege and sympathy, he exercised an inspirational influence upon generations of schoolchildren who might otherwise not have found a way into the arts or the humourous aftermath of goondom either for that matter.  The 70s were a time in which Harry Henriksen's painterly language and imagery began to consolidate themselves slowly but surely. 


Edinburgh College of Art - 1955 to 1959 (Diploma in Fine Art)

Harry Henriksen attended the Edinburgh School of Art at a time in which students still underwent a rigorous programme of training in the complete spectrum of arts and crafts techniques and applications. The course was broad-based and orientated around the acquisition of technical knowledge and the honing of handskills. Essentially an arts-based apprenticeship, it was constructed to equip alumni for all eventualities in a demanding jobs market - at a time before any social security safety net.  

Moray House teacher training college and school camps - 1966

Peripatetic art teacher, Isle-of-Skye - 1967 to 1969

​After sobering confrontations with the reality of life outwith the Art College, Harry Henriksen obtained a teaching qualification from Moray House Teacher Training College in Edinburgh as a primary and high school art teacher. He helped run school camps in and around Edinburgh. Meets Morag MacIver Ross, his future wife and mother of his sons, the artists Ross and Scott Henriksen. Being regulars at the poets' pubs around Rose Street in Edinburgh, Morag and Harry were able to rub shoulders with the likes of Sidney Goodsir Smith and Hugh MacDairmid. An advertisement for the position of peripatetic art teacher on the Isle-of-Skye heralded the start of a new phase in Harry Henriksen's thinking and development in which the myths, culture and topography of the Highlands and Islands would play a major role... 

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