Pat Harry was born in 1931 and grew up in a comfortable home in Bellevue Hill, when the trams still ran. The tomboy impulse - and the occasional flamboyant gesture - surfaced early and never departed.
After getting married at the tender age of 22 and having four children, Pat began studying painting in 1960 at Wollongong Technical College, and by 1969 she was teaching art at St. Paul’s College, Bellambi in Wollongong. In her paintings she used the raw materials around her: the bright sand of the endless beaches, the cobalt skies, the colours of the indolent bodies festooning the sands, and their beach accessories. ‘It just came out of me because I lived in the area ... the bright colours, the pure colours - and the shapes. They were based on the sea and sky ... and legs ... lying on the beach looking through people’s legs.’
Pat has shown at many and varied exhibitions ranging from Wollongong to Bangkok to New York to Canberra. She has lectured and taught art at the Canberra School of Art and spent a period as the Artist-in-residence in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at Silpakorn University in Bangkok.
Pat moved to Sydney in 1997, after packing up her house and vacating a studio which she rented for some five years. ‘When I left they didn’t give me back my bond money [laughter] ... they were very fussy and I had left paint on the sink ... paint everywhere in fact ... but that shouldn’t matter, it was a painting studio!’
Pat Harry continues to paint and create daily in her inner-city studio. She laments the loss of artists and writers due to rising rents, but she liked the social mix. ‘You have to have opposites ... You’ve got to have that dark and light.’ She expressed her impatience with theory-based art: ‘Art doesn’t come from theory ... it comes from the soul and from learning the history of art.’