Leigh Bowery - Tell Them I’ve Gone to Papua New Guinea

The Fitzrovia Chapel


February 1986, Leigh Bowery at Taboo. Photographer credit © Dave Swindells
From January 7, 2022 until February 6, 2022
The Fitzrovia Chapel are delighted to announce an exhibition to celebrate the life and work of renowned per- formance artist Leigh Bowery. The chapel is the only remaining building of the Middlesex Hospital, where Leigh died from AIDS on New Year’s Eve 1994.
Leigh is a legendary figure who spans the worlds of art, fashion, dance, club and music. Essentially he himself was the living breathing work of art, his now iconic designs and costumes were ubiquitous and meant for Leigh, as he pushed his body through ever more extreme creations, designed to shock and thrill onlookers from dance floor to gallery.
He was also known as one of Lucian Freud’s most famous models, sitting for the renowned painter for several years and becoming close friends, his large naked bald form becoming almost as recognisable as when wearing his own outlandish and ornately decorated costumes and creations.
Leigh died of AIDS on New Year’s Eve 1994, shortly after his last performance at the Freedom Cafe, Soho in November, where people saw for the last time his legendary ‘Birth’ performance where he gave birth to his as- sistant and close friend Nicola Bateman live on stage, with Freud, Alexander Mcqueen and his other close friend Sue Tilley all on the front row.
The Fitzrovia Chapel have worked with the Leigh Bowery Estate and in particular Nicola, whom he married shortly before his death, to create a stunning but poignant exhibition of Leigh’s costumes, presenting several of his iconic ‘looks’ against the backdrop of the gold mosaic ceiling and marble walls of the chapel.
There will also be a specially produced short film with interviews with some of Leigh’s closest friends and col- laborators: Nicola Bateman, Sue Tilley, Boy George, Les Child, Richard Torry, David Holah and Lee Benjamin. Dr Rob Miller, who looked after Leigh when he was the Middlesex, and who is now a trustee of the chapel, will also be interviewed.
Artist Charles Atlas will have his film ‘The Legend of Leigh Bowery’ played as part of the exhibition. Free admission, booking required via Eventbrite.
‘Blitz’ Designer Collection Fashion Show at the Albery Theatre, London, Britain - 1986 Credit: Brendan Beirne/Shutterstock. Backstage with Boy George at Blitz Magazine Fashion Gala organised by Iain R Webb to promote the classic Levi denim jacket. 15th June 1986. This look is called Angel wings and will be part of the exhibition
Session I / Look 1 / November 1988. Photographer credit © Fergus Greer. This look is called Dalmation and will be part of the exhibition
Photographer credit © Jean Claude Lagrèze / Leigh Bowery, Le Privilège, Paris 1988. This look is called Crewel work cape and orange sequinned skirt and will be part of the exhibition
Leigh Bowery and Nicola Bateman at Leigh’s home Farrell House in east London. Photographer credit © Martin Gardner. This costume is not in the exhibition
Leigh Bowery’s last photo shoot for the promotion of the Freedom Cafe performances, 26 October 1994 in Mike Owen’s studio in London, with Leigh’s cat Angus. Photographer credit © Mike Owen