Prepare to feel like your life is very boring. Sorry, but that's how I felt when I went to a talk at the National Portrait Gallery last Thursday evening entitled "Word of Mouth from the Warren Street Squat". Given the setting in a rather proper sort of place, I sort of thought I'd be going along to a rather genteel retelling of the activities of a particularly creative, carefree community which sprung up in Central London nearly a decade before I was born. Indeed, the whole event came about as a result of the Lucian Freud retrospective- attended by the very prim Duchess Kate when it opened- in which there are several portraits of Leigh Bowery, a key player in the clubbing scene which was a huge part of life for the Warren Street squatters.
|The most polite one I could find....Leigh Bowery by Lucian Freud (image from www.tate.org.uk)|
|Boy George with Leigh Bowery (image from graziadaily.co.uk)|
|The lovely Princess Julia, who was on stage talking with Jeffrey Hinton|
|Kim Bowen, Jeremy Healy and Stephen Jones outside the Warren St squat (image from www.fashionsmostwanted.blogspot.com)|
|Trojan and Leigh Bowery. An image from the insightful article which Princess Julia wrote about the NPG talk for iD|
|Bodymap (image from www.dazeddigital.com)|
The talk ended on kind of odd note when Hinton mentioned he would be reading out the names of some of those who had been big parts of the scene but who are no longer around, many of them succumbing to AIDS related illnesses or drug and alcohol problems. There was a shouting match between two audience members who had clearly both been some part of the culture- where one questioned whether their lifestyles had been overly childish and irresponsible, the other was fuming that that subject had to be brought up at all. While the deaths of people like Bowery do cast a shadow, the fact that Hinton, Princess Julia and many more are still alive, successful and just as creative today does show that it was an experience you could live through.
I just need one question answering, does anyone know who this fab furry animal bedecked audience member is? All anyone could tell me was his name was Thierry...