This is the online home of Harley R, an artist, musician and writer based in London, England.
I draw prolifically and post excerpts from my sketchbooks several times a week on this site, many of them with digital colour added. I’m most interested in drawing people, sometime realistically, sometimes imaginatively, sometimes clothed, sometimes not. For 20 years I sketched commuters on the London Underground during my journeys to work. I was a regular visitor to various life drawing groups. I draw odd takes on the contents of fashion supplements and clothing catalogues, and abstract versions of movie posters and record covers. From time-to-time I also tackle subjects such as cars, trucks and other vehicles; buildings and industrial equipment; and wildlife. A series of older sketchbook drawings can be found on my old site www.houseofharley.co.uk. If you find my sketchbook spreads too busy, you can home in on the individual drawings on my Instagram feed.
Some of my best sketches are now available in a series of artbooks and many of my original sketchbooks and life drawings are also for sale for reasonable prices. I am also happy to accept commissions. Enquire here.
I have contributed to a number of exhibitions over the years. Several portraits of the singer Mark E Smith of The Fall were exhibited in the Paintwork exhibitions organised by the Praxis Hagen gallery in Berlin, London and Hamburg in 2006 through 2009. I took part in several public fridge magnet exhibitions organised by Alban Low, and life drawing exhibitions organised by The Moon and Nude and Betty Frankenstien. My more fantastical drawings have seen print in publications such as The Sound Projector.
For a brief but intense period in my late teens, I was involved in the English small press comics scene: writing and drawing comic strips; helping out on the Fast Fiction stand at London comic markets; and publishing four issues of the anthology Ugly Mug which featured underground cartooning legends Mark Robinson, Tom Tiffin, Ed Pinsent, John Bagnall, Bob Lynch, John Watson, Steve Way, Denny Derbyshire, Spencer Woodcock, Chris Reynolds, Martin Millard, Carol Swain, Marc Baines, Daryl Cunningham and Davy Francis.
I still have a few copies available – enquire here. Will I draw comics again? Keep it under your hats, but work has begun on Ugly Mug 5.
I was a member of Mystery Dick and Pestrepeller, two improvising groups formed in the mid-1990s, who released several albums and play live rarely but explosively.
Mystery Dick is a duo of myself and Ed Pinsent, which jumps into life from time-to-time when we least expect it. We specialise in intense improvised drones such as ‘One Note Mind’ (available as a CD-R on our vanity label Mr E Disks). Our proudest achievement, the album ‘Single Angel’, recorded with heavenly vocals provided by the Chelsea Madrigal Group, spent two fruitless years on the release list of a certain UK record company, and is as yet unreleased.
Pestrepeller is a trio with Ed Pinsent (again) and renowned artist Savage Pencil, sometimes expanding to include various talented collaborators. Pestrepeller’s music tends to be more detailed and unpredictable than Mystery Dick’s, but offers a similar power and organic beauty. Our best known work is ‘Isle of Dark Magic’, released in 2006 on Important Records to much acclaim.
You can find out more about Mystery Dick and Pestrepeller and purchase our recordings at www.mysterydick.com.
I have also appeared on various releases by North London band The Original Beekeepers. In 1998 I tried and failed to join The Fall. The closest I came was having my cover of the band’s He! Pep used as the intro tape for a gig that was broadcast on XFM.
I have been occasional fill-in presenter on The Sound Projecting radio show on Resonance 104.4 FM, and have presented surveys of piano music, obscure rock’n’roll, Popol Vuh, The Residents, Sparks, the Beach Boys and The Fall, amongst others.
I have written occasionally for The Sound Projector, a music magazine whose motto is ‘better listening through imagination’. It takes an unpretentious and populist approach to music that is often perceived to be ‘difficult’. I’ve covered topics such as the singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston, Brian Wilson’s Smile, the Blue Oyster Cult, the Monkees, the Church of Euthanasia, and modern chart music.