Clifford Harper

Biography

Clifford Harper (born July 13, 1949) is an artist who describes himself as a "committed anarchist". He was
 born in Chiswick, North London and was expelled from school at 13 and placed on probation at 14, after
 which he worked in a series of what he describes as "menial jobs". An activist in the London squatting and
 commune scene during the late 60s onwards, he became a self-taught artist. Throughout the 70s he was a
 prolific illustrator for many radical and alternative publications such as Undercurrents, Cienfuegos Press
 Anarchist Review, and his self-published Class War Comix project.

 His distinctive line drawing style was perhaps most typically
 exemplified by his utopian 'Visions' series of posters,
 commissioned for the Undercurrents' 1974 published anthology
 Radical Technology. These illustrated scenes of
 post-revolutionary self-sufficiency in urban and rural settings,
 and were almost de rigueur decoration for the kitchen wall of
 any self-respecting radical's commune, squat or bedsit during the
 1970s. Of these posters Harper writes:

    "Funnily enough they were particularly popular in Spain
    following the death of Franco and the liberalisation that
    followed that happy event. I think the reason for their
    success is that although they are utopian images they
    depict an existence that is immediately approachable --
    all it would take is the seizing of a few empty buildings
    and the knocking down of a few meaningless walls..."

    Heavily influenced by comic books, Eric Gill and the narrative
    woodcuts of Frans Masereel, Harper's style evolved in the
    1980s into a bolder, more expressionist direction, with much of
    his later artwork resembling wood or lino cuts, although in fact
    he still mainly works in pen and ink.
 

 In 1987 Harper's Anarchy, A Graphic Guide, which he both wrote
 and illustrated, was published by Camden Press. Arguably, this has
 become a definitive introduction to the subject, combining a thorough
 overview of anarchism with his distinctive graphic work. As well as
 being one of Britain's leading radical illustrators, Harper remains a
 committed and engaged anarchist activist by continuing his
 involvement with the organisation of the UK's annual Anarchist
 Bookfair, and small press publishing projects. His work regularly
 appears in the British newspaper The Guardian.

 A book of Harper's collected illustrations for The Guardian's regular
 Country Diary column was published by Agraphia Press in 2003.

 Graphic Anarchy, a free exhibition of his work, was held from 4
 April until 30 May 2003 at the [Newsroom] Gallery, 60 Farringdon
 Road, London, EC1

    Further reading

    Books

    Radical Technology - includes 6 'Visions' and other drawings by Clifford Harper (edited by
    Peter Harper, Godfrey Boyle and the editors of Undercurrents Wildwood House, 1976)
    The Education Of Desire - The Anarchist Graphics Of Clifford Harper (Annares Press 1984)
    Anarchy, A Graphic Guide (Camden Press 1987)
    The Unknown Deserter - the Brief war of Private Aby Harris in Nine Drawings (Working
    Press, 1989)
    Visions of Poesy - an Anthology of Anarchist Poetry (co-edited with Dennis Gould, Freedom
    Press, 1990)
    Country Diary Agraphia Press, 2003)

     External links

    An article about Harper's art appears in the Anarchist publication Organise! here
     http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Organise%21&action=edit

    A show of Clifford's work, "Graphic anarchy" was held by the Guardian, 17 April-30 May 2003.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/newsroom/story/0,11718,933816,00.html

    Agraphia Clifford Harper's official website
    http://www.agraphia.uk.com/home.html

    [Last updated January 2004]

  1. Work
  2. Portraits
  3. Quotes
  4. Other