The Vinyl Word In Fashion

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My love of vinyl means I have sometimes held onto to records out of sentimentality, simply because I cannot bear to be parted from the shiny, black discs, even though they are far beyond ever being able to produce a coherent tune again. Scratched copies of Steve Walsh’s ‘I Found Lovin” and ‘Now Those Days Are Gone’ by Bucks Fizz nestle beside albums such as Ultravox’s ‘Quartet’, an LP I played so much in my early teens that the grooves wore down to almost nothing. Yet these prized possessions remain in their rightful place in the collection I have built up over the last 35 years.IMG_20151225_184213.jpg

Some have mustered up more strength than I have been able to, and put their old vinyl to good use. Artists, like those exhibiting at the Vinyl Resting Place on 16th September, use the records as a support for their artwork. This piece I have by the late Terry Sue-Patt beautifully illustrates how music can be come art in more than one way. For your chance to purchase some similarly fantastic vinyl art, head on down to Monty’s in London’s Brick Lane, from 6pm.

There are also a number of people creating clocks from their redundant vinyl collections, and then there is always the option of going completely retro, warming and shaping them into dishes and bowls. However, I recently came across a wonderfully innovative use for these precious pieces of plastic which I think is amazing.

Wendy Norris of Forever Vinyl uses albums (handbags), 7″singles  (purses and bags) and 12″ singles (clutch bags) to create an eye-catching range of original fashion accessories.Vinyl 1

The sumptuously padded interiors are lined with various fun and patterned fabrics, and some of the bags incorporate the record sleeve into the design.

Based on the Isle of Wight, Wendy had a stall at this year’s Jack Up The 80s festival on the island. Her bespoke creations were first brought to my attention by Kim Bailey, whose partner Russell Hastings was performing there with From The Jam. Kim had purchased a beautiful shoulder bag, fashioned from an Ella Fitzgerald album. Unfortunately, by the time I made my way to the stall the following day, those designs had sold out, but I shall be first in the queue next year!

Wendy regularly updates her stock and produces new styles. To find out more, take a look at the Forever Vinyl Facebook page.

 

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Remembering Terry Sue-Patt

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Last Saturday saw the memorial service for the much loved and much missed Terry Sue-Patt, on what would have been his 51st birthday. A day of mixed emotions, it brought together family and friends from every facet of Terry’s life and, thanks to the hard work of friends including Erkan Mustafa, Yvette Marrs and Lisa Richer, it was a very special day that would have made him incredibly proud.

I had the privilege of contributing the following piece to the order of service, which I now share along with a montage of photos, set to “Stay Gold” by Stevie Wonder and Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Lulu?” were the first words Terry ever asked me. No one had ever told me that or has since, but then Terry had his own unique way of looking at the world and the people in it. Unassuming and modest, he viewed life with an artist’s vision, mixed with a sizeable chunk of childlike wonder. A paradox then, that whilst seeing only the best and beauty in all around him, he often doubted the quality of his own artistic endeavours, which many of us admired for their honest, urban vibrancy. Terry in canvas form.

Since his passing, he has received much deserved recognition for his art, which I’m sure brings a smile to his face, as he looks down on the fickle world he left behind. “Better late than never,” he would be saying, followed by that infectious laugh of his, we all so desperately miss. Yet, despite the devastation we feel at the premature loss of a friend who always wore the biggest of smiles, and his heart on his sleeve, we should try to remember the legacy of his warmth and generosity of spirit, when the darkness of grief comes gnawing at our broken hearts.

Few people can claim to be universally loved by everyone they meet, but I have yet to find anyone who met Terry who did not love him. If the tributes paid to him are any measure of affection, he also touched the lives of those who never had the privilege of meeting him. Whether it was Grange Hill fans lamenting the passing of Benny Green, or Facebook friends giving a final “Shout Out” to a man who delighted in online social interaction, it became obvious there was going to be a Terry-shaped hole in thousands of lives.

As I attempt to patch up the void he has left in my own life, I take some succour in the words of Robert Frost, a poem both Terry and I came to know through our love of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders”.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Terry, in our hearts you will forever stay gold.

Stay Gold TSP

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The reality of what I am writing has yet to sink in. Emotions of disbelief and sadness are overwhelming as I type what I have been unable to voice. On Friday 22nd May 2015, actor, artist, and the loveliest man anyone could ever hope to meet, Terry Sue-Patt was found dead at his home is East London.

Remembered by a generation as Benny Green, the first Grange Hill pupil to eve58680_10201586065125056_37009664_nr grace our television screens, Terry was also an incredibly talented artist, working under the name TSP Hoodie. The photo shows the pair of us holding one of his pieces which, I am proud to say, has hung in my hallway for the last couple of years. It is the last thing I see at night, as I close my bedroom door, and the first thing I notice as I make my way, bleary eyed, downstairs each morning. Guaranteed to always put a smile on my face, the painting continues to do what Terry always did.

Ask anyone who ever met Terry what he was like, and the words “beautiful”, “fun” and “cheeky” are repeated time and time again. His fellow Grange Hill cast member and close friend, Erkan Mustafa commented yesterday “he loved everybody that he met”. As his many friends and family all know, everybody he met also loved him. Whether you had known him for years or hours, Terry’s warmth and generosity of spirit became a part of your life that you never forgot. Paul McCarthy, who played Tommy Watson alongside Terry in Grange Hill, captures his nature perfectly: “He was a very special man, with no malice or agenda, just a kind soul.”

Despite his early TV appearances and exposure to public scrutiny, like many former pupils of Anna Scher, Terry remained with his feet firmly on the ground, untainted by the superficiality of the entertainment industry. He was even susceptible to moments of being almost starstruck himself. About six months ago, an old episode of Pointless, in which my daughter and I had appeared as contestants, was repeated. The first I knew of it was a text from Terry asking “Is that you on the telly? If it’s not, you’ve got a double!” When I confirmed that it was me, Terry managed to turn what should have been my fifteen minutes of fame into “Hollywood Star” treatment, thanks to his now infamous Facebook “shout outs”. By the time my second episode aired the following day, I felt like I had most of Walthamstow behind us, willing us to win. Unfortunately, the outcome was still that we went out in the second round, due to my incorrect answer to a football question, something my staunch Spurs supporter friend found both unbelievable and hilarious!

We may have differed in our football knowledge, but we shared a love for S.E. Hinton’s book, “The Outsiders”. I had first read the book as an impressionable teenager, and have lost count of how many times I have read it since. Discovering the book later in life, Terry not only enjoyed this tale of true friendship, but found the characters engaging in a way that helped him with his own struggles. Knowing how much I love the book, Terry sent me his copy a few weeks ago, along with a note saying that he would have sent it sooner, but “it was so good I read it twice.”

One of the most poignant moments in the book centres around a poem by Robert Frost. I can think of no better way of saying goodbye to a friend who was taken from us too soon, than with the words he loved to read. Terry, you will forever stay gold.

One of the tributes painted yesterday by Tee Wat. This one is at Monty's in Brick Lane, Terry's favourite bar.

One of the tributes painted yesterday by Tee Wat. This one is at Monty’s in Brick Lane, Terry’s favourite bar.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Art For Art’s Sake

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From a very young age, I have loved Art in all its forms. Whether it was my own early creations, which relatives dutifully received on every occasion I could deem special (basically any day ending in a Y!), or my attempts to “improve” my environment, which included a full-length painting on my bedroom door of my then favourite group, Immaculate Fools, when I was 14 (my parents were very encouraging and tolerant), I have painted and created. However, in more recent years the creativity has been inched out in favour of appreciation, which is why I could not resist the opportunity of viewing a Banksy creation in situ.

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So, last Sunday I made my way to Payers Park in Folkestone to view Banksy’s “Art Buff”. The photo shows me beside the artwork, which less than 24 hours later would have an unwarranted addition to its empty plinth:

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/folkestone/news/vandals-make-obscene-addition-to-25142/

Banksy aside, there are a number of urban artists producing some fantastic pieces, but who do not receive the media hype of the elusive artist. One such artist is Terry Sue-Patt (TSP Hoodie). If the name sounds familiar, you were probably a Grange Hill fan when the programme first launched. Terry played the part of Benny Green, 58680_10201586065125056_37009664_nthe sidekick of Peter “Tucker” Jenkins, and the first Grange Hill pupil to ever appear on our TV screens. Some of Terry’s work is inspired by, and features, his Grange Hill character. Exhibiting alongside the talents of artists such as Norwich-based David “Gnasher” Nash, and Lisa Richer (LisArt) in Brick Lane’s “Monty’s Bar”, Terry’s work is both accessible and affordable. Last year, I bought one of Terry’s “Benny Green” pieces, during his Grange Hill Exhibition at the bar, and it has hung proudly in my hallway ever since. I never tire of looking at it – surely a sign of enduring art.

I love to discuss Art almost as much as viewing and having a go at creating it, and was in my element when I happened to encounter an Art lecturer, whilst working in a book shop. What began as a discussion about a local Eric Gill sculpture, ended almost as a confessional of our own artistic shortcomings. He admitted that he hates people looking over his shoulder at what he is sketching, when he works outdoors. I revealed that for about the last ten years, I have not finished any of the paintings I have started. Some may only have an square inch piece missing, but they rePunkmain unfinished. The lecturer’s theory was that in not finishing my paintings, I was preventing them from being judged. When a painting is finished, the artist is saying they are happy with the piece (or at least happy for it to be viewed), and therefore open to criticism. In keeping my work incomplete, it stopped it being criticized. Heavy stuff, but it made sense.

In an attempt to get me past this fear of criticism, and to actually finish a painting for once, I thought I would publish some of my teenage artwork, which I did during the 80s. The punk was a school project, with the right half being cut from a magazine, and the left half painted by me when I was about 14.  I painted the (lopsided) Marlon Brando shortly afterwards, during some time off school, when I had happened to watch “On The Waterfront”.

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I had injured my arm, and had to have it in a sling, which meant I painted Marlon right-handed (I’m a leftie). That’s my excuse why he’s wonky anyway, and I’m sticking to it!

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I hope that anyone who owned a copy of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Welcome To The Pleasuredome”  album will recognise my efforts on the right. Again, this would have been drawn during my mid-teens. It was one of the many, many music based pictures I drew or painted, and now it, and my other work, is out there for the world to see…Don’t judge me too harshly!