British artist Bod Mellor has created a nine-metre high artwork exploring the life of singer and songwriter George Michael (1963—2016). This is the first permanent public artwork by Mellor and is presented on Kingsbury Road as part of Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture. Michael is an important local hero, having lived in the area and attended schools in Kingsbury until his early teens.
Influenced by the traditions of mural painting, Mellor has produced a montage depicting different moments from Michael’s life and career. References include key imagery from his best–known music videos, such as Michael’s silhouetted figure in Careless Whisper (1984); an iconic portrait of the artist blow drying his hair during Wham!’s 1985 world tour; backstage scenes; and motifs from later music videos, including Outside (1998).
Hints of the history and life of Kingsbury echo from the street to the work and back again; from images of halos surrounding men’s groomed hair on the barbershop sign opposite, to Mellor’s nod to John Logie Baird, whose experiments in Kingsbury in the late 1920’s led to the invention of the television. George Michael TV Outside was produced during an intensive three week period where the artist worked onsite, which provided an opportunity for audiences to see the process of making a mural and to engage directly with the artist.
Mellor has also incorporated various other motifs, such as the famous yellow brick road from the musical fantasy film The Wizard of Oz, which lend the work a surreal quality. These references might be understood as symbolising childhood or a person’s life journey, but are also synonymous with LGBTQ+ culture.
Mellor is a leading British artist who has been making images of public figures for over twenty years, often exploring ideas of identity, fan culture and fame. Mellor’s personal response to George Michael both celebrates and explores him as a pioneering cultural and LGBTQ+ figure.
Mellor’s artwork is part of Studio Voltaire elsewhere, a series of ambitious offsite commissions taking place throughout London and is part of the Brent Biennial – a series of projects for Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture and has been co-commissioned by Studio Voltaire, Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture and Create London.
Bod Mellor (b. 1970, Manchester) has had numerous solo exhibitions in London, New York, Venice, and Brussels. Recent publications include Sirens by Bod Mellor (Montez Press, 2019) and recent solo exhibitions include Sirens, Team Gallery, New York, (2017), What Happened to Helen?, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, (2013), An Ecstasy of Purpose, Studio Voltaire, London (2010) and at The Migros Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2008). Their work has been shown at the Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany; The Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius, Vilnius, Lithuania; Limerick City Art Gallery, Limerick, Ireland; Museum Arnhem, Arnhem, Netherlands; MoMA P.S.1, Long Island City, New York; and Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.