About the House of Harley

For over three decades, the House of Harley studio has produced comics, music and art from its current base in London. There are many Harleys, some of their work can be found on this site…

Comics

One studio member, whose professional moniker was an ill-advised pun on a well-known brand of motorbikes, got involved in the British small press comics scene of the late 1980s: 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. A handful of copies from the original run are still available – enquire here.

In 2021 Ugly Mug returned after 30 years stuck in the Black Lodge, now curated by Harley R, a distant relative of Bobby G and Sandra Dee. See contents and ordering info for Ugly Mug 5.

Covers to Ugly Mug issues 1 to 4

Art

The Harleys are expected to draw constantly and to take part in twice-weekly sketchbook clashes, with the winning spreads uploaded to this site, many of them with ridiculous digital colour added by the judges as a sort of punishment. If you find these too busy, you can home in on individual drawings on the studio’s Instagram feed.

For over 20 years several Harleys roamed the London Underground from dusk to dawn, avoiding the police and sketching commuters. Others spent their time hiding out in life drawing groups, or poring over the contents of fashion supplements for inspiration, in a bid to get noticed by one of the leading fashion houses.

A selection of sketches have been made available in a series of artbooks and many original sketchbooks and life drawings are also for sale for unreasonable prices. The House of Harley will accept commissions in money, food or blood. Enquire here.

The studio’s earliest known drawings, some dating back over a thousand years, can be found on www.houseofharley.co.uk.

One particularly arty Harley, ‘HMR’, has contributed to various exhibitions over the years. Several portraits of the singer Mark E Smith of The Fall were shown in the Paintwork exhibitions organised by the Praxis Hagen gallery in Berlin, London and Hamburg in 2006 through 2009.  Another Harley contributed to fridge magnet exhibitions organised by Alban Low and life drawing exhibitions organised by The Moon and Nude and Betty Frankenstien. 

Music

The Harleys have made occasional and explosive entrees into the world of improvised music.

Mystery Dick, a collaboration with cartoonist Ed Pinsent, specialise in intense improvised drones such as ‘One Note Mind’ (available as a CD-R on vanity label Mr E Disks). ‘The Dick’s proudest achievement, the unreleased album ‘Single Angel’, with heavenly vocals provided by the Chelsea Madrigal Group is simply too exquisite for mere mortals to bear.

Pestrepeller is an noise punk collective formed around the core of ‘Freeform Harley’, Ed Pinsent (again) and Savage Pencil, sometimes expanding to include various talented collaborators. Pestrepeller’s best known work is ‘Isle of Dark Magic’, released in 2006 on Important Records to much acclaim.

You can purchase recordings Mystery Dick and Pestrepeller at www.mysterydick.com.

Another musical Harley, who likes his tunes more structured, was caught moonlighting on various releases by North London band The Original Beekeepers. In 1998 he tried and failed to join The Fall. The closest he came was having his cover of the band’s He! Pep used as the intro tape for a gig that was broadcast on XFM.

A particularly outgoing member of the studio’s aural division is occasional fill-in presenter on The Sound Projecting radio show on Resonance 104.4 FM, and has presented surveys of piano music, obscure rock’n’roll, Popol Vuh, The Residents, Sparks, the Beach Boys and The Fall, amongst others. They have also put pen to paper for The Sound Projector magazine, tackling subjects such as the singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston, Brian Wilson’s Smile, the Blue Oyster Cult, the Monkees, the Church of Euthanasia, and the joys of modern chart music.

1 thought on “About the House of Harley

  1. Hi Harley R my name is Alice I am a student doing a project based on researching artists sketch books/ journals. I was wondering if you could give me some advice or tips for creating a interesting visual diary and any general recommendations

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