One of a kind

This exhibition shines a light on Leigh Bowery’s deviant fashion brilliance
By Bailey Slater | Art | 7 January 2022

Leigh Bowery, The Fitzrovia Chapel

Ever wanted a glimpse into the hedonistic, glamorous world of Australian performance artist Leigh Bowery? Well, London’s Fitzrovia Chapel’s latest exhibition, Leigh Bowery: Tell Them I’ve Gone to Papua New Guinea – what Bowery used tell people to say when he was ill in hospital – does just that, spotlighting the legacy of the trailblazing creator.

Making his way over to the UK at the start of the eighties from Sunshine, Australia, Bowery would fast become a fixture of London’s vibrant club scene, which made stars out of fellow Blitz Kids like Boy George, milliner Stephen Jones and Princess Julia. His outlandish designs and high-camp style blended glamour and vulgarity in equal measure, and are now a cultural touchpoint for some of the biggest names in the art and fashion world – including Rick Owens and Supreme

Leigh Bowery by Fergus Greer

Throughout his career Bowery wore many hats, or should we say well-decorated helmets. He was an intricately skilled designer, a muse for painter Lucian Freud, the owner of Leicester Square-based nightclub Taboo (which shut down a year after it opened owing to claims of drug solicitation) and even a pregnant performance artist. His work spanned countless mediums, yet never faltered in pushing the boundaries of beauty into someplace far more surreal than the rest of the world could ever dream of. 

This new exhibition is set to take place in the last remaining building of the Middlesex hospital where Bowery spent his final days, with the Chapel working in close collaboration with Bowery’s estate and his assistant/performance partner Nicola Bateman, whom he married shortly before dying of AIDS-related causes in 1994.

Leigh Bowery by Janette Beckman

Showcasing over a decade’s worth of the artist’s many decadent costumes and accoutrements (for reference that’s a lot of huge hats and gaudy gowns), the affair will also include testimonials friends and collaborators like Sue Tilley, Les Child, Bowery’s former assistant Lee Benjamin and even his doctor. 

The exhibition will run from 7th January – 6th February, with tickets available via Eventbrite

Read Next