Artwork to remember Camden's Amy Winehouse 10 years on
- Credit: Joseph Marshall
As the 10th anniversary of the death of singer Amy Winehouse approaches, a huge tribute artwork has been created in Camden.
The street artist JXC has splashed a photorealistic rendering of her iconic image across a brick wall in an alleyway behind the Hawley Arms, though it is currently inaccessible, due to building works.
Winehouse, who died aged 27 on July 23, 2011 of alcohol poisoning, is depicted with her trademark beehive hair do, eye makeup and tattoos, reclining on one elbow.
The artist has certainly captured her public persona, but to many she was so much more.
Her mother, Janis, said she feels the presence of her late daughter with her “always”.
Janis spoke to ITV’s Lorraine ahead of a new one-off BBC documentary, Reclaiming Amy, which is screening on July 23 on BBC 2, aiming to uncover “the real Amy”.
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“Amy was very much herself and that’s how it worked… Whenever I said ‘Amy, don’t do that’ she thought I said: ‘Carry on!’”
Asked whether she is okay watching footage of her daughter's performances, she said: “Oh yes, more than. She’s here, always, always. She’s with me, I’ve got that sense.”
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Recalling their last words to each other, the day before Amy died, Janis said: “I remember exactly. I said to her ‘Amy, I love you’ and she said ‘I love you too, Mummy’."
Amy’s stepfather, Richard Collins, said it is important to recognise that the singer worked hard to battle her addictions, and that people around her tried to help.
The couple said they have taken comfort from the work of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity that helps to support other young people struggling with addiction.
Max J Goldzweig, a science film producer, knew Winehouse growing up.
“There was nothing about her that made me think she was going to become a 'household name' musician," he told the Ham&High.
"She loved singing and she would belt out music hall songs, but I did not appreciate her talent at that point.”
By the time he was older and playing the congas in a small time group called Bolshaband, Winehouse’s talent was common knowledge.
He said she “very occasionally used to do a little cameo”.
“She would come on stage and do a song completely by surprise," he said.
"That was the highlight of my amateur musical career. She was always very kind and generous in that way.”
On a personal level, he said: “She would always be a stimulating person to talk to. She was engaged and fun.”
As for her reputation with drugs and alcohol, he said that as a teenager, at least.
“I don't remember her taking drugs, or drink particularly much," he said.
“She wasn’t one of those kids who had a problem.”
In around 2005 Max lived in a flat with one of Winehouse’s best friends, and she would visit on occasion.
He said her fame “was almost like an elephant in the room".
"You wouldn't want to ask about her career, even though she was blowing up and on TV all the time because she seemed to like to just come back to her childhood friendship group and just be normal Amy," he said.
“She’ll go down as an amazing musician who gave us an incredible catalogue of songs that no doubt will be played many years into the future. She’ll also go down sadly as one of a number of tragic cases of young people who achieve an awful lot but are not supported or equipped to deal with that fame or the lifestyle they’re thrown into.”
Justin Rowlatt, the BBC's chief environment correspondent, lived opposite the singer in Camden Square and broke the news of her death.
“There was a tsunami of journalists," he said. "The square filled up with people. At that time she had a really passionate following.
“It was almost like a festival of grief. All the road signs were stolen as mementos. It was quite moving in a way because there was such passion and people were distraught and they obviously loved her so deeply. It really did go on for a long time. The police would try and move them on.
“It was weird to have played a tiny part in that really sad end of such an amazingly talented musician's life.”
Additional reporting by Laura Harding, PA.