The exhibition celebrates the life of artist and performer Leigh Bowery

Part of an original photograph of Leigh Bowery with a black cat, by Mike Owen.  His last photo shoot for Freedom Cafe, November 1994.
Leigh Bowery in November 1994. Photo: Mike Owen.

The Fitzrovia Chapel begins 2022 with a special exhibition celebrating the life and work of performance artist, club promoter and fashion designer Leigh Bowery.

Spanning the world of art, fashion and music, Bowery has pushed his body through ever more extreme creations, designed to shock and thrill.

As a model, he sat down for painters and photographers: his tall, nude, bald form becoming as recognizable as his extravagant, richly decorated costumes and designs.

He died of AIDS on New Years Eve 1994 at Middlesex Hospital which was once on Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia.

Only his close friend Sue Tilley knew he was sick and he told her that when he died: “Tell them I went to Papua New Guinea to help the natives.

This month, in the Old Chapel of Middlesex Hospital – the only part of the hospital to have survived the wrecking ball – an exhibition of his costumes and portraits will be shown along with a short film featuring interviews with some of his closest friends and collaborators: Nicola Bateman, Sue Tilley, Boy George, Les Child, Richard Torry, David Holah and Lee Benjamin.

Dr Rob Miller, who looked after Bowery when he was at Middlesex, and is now a chapel administrator, will also be interviewed.

Artist Charles Atlas will be playing his film The Legend of Leigh Bowery as part of the exhibition.

Leigh Bowery: Tell them I’ve been to Papua New Guinea. From Friday January 7 to Sunday February 6 2022, at The Fitzrovia Chapel, 2 Pearson Square, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3BF. Entrance is free but visits must be booked in advance.

Lectures and Tours: Nicola Bateman gives a guided tour of the exhibition examining the stories behind the individual costumes (date to be confirmed); Sue Tilley (Close friend and biographer of Bowery) in conversation with Gregor Muir (Director of Collections, International Art at Tate Modern) about Bowery‘s life and work, from 6.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. Wednesday February 2, 2022. See The Fitzrovia Chapel.

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