Born in Perth, Western Australia, Rolf has always loved art; Even before he went to Primary School, whenever anyone asked him "What are you going to be when you grow up?" his immediate response was "An artist!".
At the age of twenty-two, Rolf moved to London on what was supposed to be a year’s study leave, financing himself through four exhibitions of his work held in Australia. He immediately enrolled at the City & Guilds Art School in London, intending to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a portrait painter. After a chance meeting with the Australian impressionist painter ‘Bill’ Hayward Veal, however, he began attending an art course run by Veal and soon became his protégé.
In the mid 1950’s, for two years running, some of Rolf’s paintings were featured in the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. While painting continued to be a private passion of his, it was for his television and stage performances that Rolf became a household name. In recent years Rolf has devoted more time to painting and has had a number of one-man shows, including the Rolf on Art exhibition at the National Gallery.
Rolf’s BBC television series Rolf on Art achieved the highest television ratings ever for a UK arts programme. Rolf hosted television’s biggest ever Arts event with a live BBC special titled Rolf on Art: The Big Event, in which he joined the public in recreating a large-scale version of Constable’s ‘Haywain’ in Trafalgar Square. The massive event was such a huge success that the BBC staged two further Rolf on Art: The Big Event specials in Edinburgh and London.
Rolf has been awarded the OBE, is a member of the Order of Australia and has won many awards for his work in the entertainment industry. Recently he was made an honorary member of the Royal Society of British Artist.
This year saw Rolf Harris unveil his portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, commissioned by the BBC to celebrate her eightieth birthday; this portrait was the subject of a BBC ONE programme The Queen, by Rolf which was screened on New Year’s Day 2006.
Work By This Artist