Sunday, 3 April 2011

Sunday 3rd April: Sunshine: One Day Tribute to Leigh Bowery at The ICA

The official day of celebration to what would have been Leigh Bowery's 50th birthday took place at the ICA after Sue Tilley approached Director Gregor Muir with the idea. The two friends held a day time discussion and then an evening event of performance and music. Knowing that opportunities like this don't come around too often (if ever) I crossed town and back again for both stints to soak in the resounding legacy, message and mantra left by Leigh to live your dream. I read Sue's biopic of "Leigh Bowery: The Life and Times of an Icon" when I was 17, at a crucial turning point in my own discovery of the world so it was a fantastic opportunity to hear her elaborate on the story. It was a very open, frank and flowing dialogue between Gregor and Sue reminiscing various accounts to explain the different angles of Leigh's personality, creativity and journey. Here is Darrell Berry's photo of Sue (wearing a Gingham dress made for her by Leigh) infront of the screen showing her Lucien Freud portrait which broke world records when recently sold ............. which came about initially from an introduction by Leigh when he was modelling for the artist. I particularly liked Sue's confession that Leigh dabbed his own mark of paint onto a canvas when Lucien was out of the room to fully engage in the process of posing! Ironically although Leigh's own work experimented with dressing, distorting and disfiguring his body, Lucien's depictions of his subject were totally natural capturing him as a classical nude. Lucien is known for not attending his own openings so Leigh took over the role at one particular Metropolitan Museum private view wearing a head to toe ensemble with integrated mask and German Military Helmet......... a little like the hat Jonny Woo wore on Friday night. There were lots of outfits and "looks" put together by the clubbers for the tribute, with acts performing including Jonny himself and Richard Torry's new band....... complete with Little Richard donning a table gaffer-taped over his head!!! Its lucky that the city has a new generation of performance artists to continue challenging realms of convention but it is also evident that an exceptional and untouchable talent only touched down to earth for a fleeting chapter of contribution. The images and videos of Leigh taken twenty years ago still look alien and groundbreaking today .......... who knows what incredible direction he would have taken now........... we can only imagine and still enjoy the history that has been handed down.

Thanks to Darrell Berry for his fantastic photos from the night.
(top to bottom: Gregor Muir and Sue Tilley, Jonny Woo twice, Scottee, Feral, Fancy Chance, Little Richard, Ryan Styles)

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