1980s London

Spitalfields fruit & vegetable market 1990, Fibreglass relief painted in oils 155 x 109cms

Above is a painted bas-relief of the last days of the fruit & vegetable market in Spitalfields before it relocated further east. The City & Broadgate were rapidly being developed at the time & seemed to tower over the market. The two homeless guys are sitting on discarded wooden crates having a beer & chatting to a trader whilst a guy in the foreground helps himself to a cabbage. My studio was very close to the market & the life in the area was a great subject to work from. This was exhibited in the Whitechapel gallery which led to the series of reliefs on City trading floors.

Above left, Ambrose's boudoir, Kentish Town. Above right, Glitz at the Vauxhall Tavern 1989, fibreglass reliefs in oils 178 x 153cms
Above left, Ambrose's boudoir, Kentish Town. Above right, Glitz at the Vauxhall Tavern 1989, fibreglass reliefs in oils 178 x 153cms

Above (left) Ambrose in his boudoir. By day, he was a male model: his modelling card can be seen on his dressing-room table, in front of the oval mirror with my reflection in it. He turned heads, both as a man and as a woman. The bas-relief (right) is a scene from the Vauxhall Tavern at amateur drag night with Glitz - or Gary - in his full regalia, decked out in sequins and feathers lip-syncing; 'My old man'... while Lily Savage, the compere, sits reading 'her' newspaper and ignoring the acts. During the late 1980s, I became friends with a transvestite called Penny/Robert who introduced me to many places and people that inspired a whole series of work about drag queens. Sadly, many of these people are no longer alive.

All Nations, night club, Hackney London. Bas relief painted in oils ..... cms
All Nations Night Club, Hackney.1989 Fibreglass relief painted in oils 41 x 66cms

Above is a scene from a West Indian night club in Hackney, I went there a few times to the surprise of my students from Hackney College where I was teaching at the time. I tried to stay as invisible as possible so I could sketch & get enough images to create this image, drawing in night clubs is fairly easy as there are always tables tucked away in a dark corner somewhere. Living in the East End it seemed there were endless pockets of very different worlds behind closed doors. This relief was bought by the Homerton Hospital in Hackney.

Fibreglass relief painted in oils 150 x 90cms
Fibreglass relief painted in oils 150 x 90cms
Self Portrait with salmon & cream cheese bagel, 1991.

Left is a self portrait in leather jacket & lace-up boots, a fairly typical look in the late 1980s, siting in the wooden-panelled kitchen of a Georgian house in Spitalfields where I lived at the time. It had a non-stop dripping tap over a big butler sink, and no heating apart from the Calor gas-heater on wheels. I'm drinking coffee from a Hackney Empire mug (you can just make out the 'E' of Empire) & have taken a bite out of a smoked-salmon & cream cheese bagel, from Brick Lane Bagel bakery. The inspiration was from a portrait by the Dutch artist Jan Steen of a girl eating an oyster. I've always liked the mischief in his characters' expressions. This relief was exhibited in the Royal Portrait Gallery's BP show in 1991 & now keeps my parents company in their home.