- Ann Lee
- Music Editor
Amy Winehouse once told her father Mitch: ‘I feel I can do anything I want in Camden. It’s like my playground.’
A few days later she was dead at the age of 27 from alcohol poisoning.
Camden with its colourful shops, grubby indie bars and lively music venues was in her blood.
It was there that she got one of her first jobs selling candles at its famous market. She bought her first flat in Jeffrey’s Place and spent many nights boozing with friends at The Hawley Arms.
When she passed away on July 23, 2011, her body was found at her home in Camden Square.
It’s fitting then that a new Amy Winehouse street art trail has been launched by the Jewish Museum London, which takes visitors around the borough she loved so much.
The museum commissioned several new pieces of street art from Amy’s close friend and artist Pegasus as well as from Captain Kris, Mr Cenz, Philth and Amara Por Dios.
In fact, it was Pegasus who created the first street art homage to Amy soon after her death.
Distraught with grief, he headed down to Camden Visitor Information Centre one day with a stencil and a can of spray paint to daub Fallen Angel—a now iconic image of a coquettish Amy with wings.
Talking about how they first met, he said: ‘I started off as a massive Amy Winehouse fan and I knew loads of people who knew her. I was always nagging them to introduce me to Amy and eventually they did. I was a babbling mess. She kind of knocked me on the arm and said, “Shut up, mate.”’
The site became an unofficial shrine to the singer and was later repainted after it was whitewashed over.
Pegasus said: ‘When Amy first passed away I was a complete emotional wreck. The first thing I thought to do was to go and pay tribute out on the streets. I wanted to do it in a way that was different to her friends and fans leaving flowers, cuddly toys and cigarettes outside her house.’
‘From there, every year on the anniversary I’d create a new Amy piece all over Camden. Since then loads of other Amy tributes have popped up.’
But the singer may not have approved herself.
The American artist laughingly admitted: ‘She’d be so embarrassed. She’d find it a bit tacky to be honest. She’d probably wonder why everyone was making such a big fuss of her. Secretly she probably would like it.’
The entire trail, which starts in Lidlington Place, near Mornington Crescent tube station, and ends at the museum takes a leisurely 45 minutes to an hour to walk.
Afterwards, you can view the exhibition Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait, which has returned to the museum after a short stint in 2013.
Her clothes, CD collection, photos and tattoo artwork have been put on display to give us an insight into Amy that goes beyond the tabloid headlines.
This was a woman who pierced her ears with a drawing pin as a bored teenager in class, loved Snoopy books even as an adult and knew from an early age that she wanted to be famous.
In an essay submitted to the Sylvia Young Theatre School, she wrote: ‘I have this dream to be very famous. To work on stage. It’s a lifelong ambition. I want people to her my voice and just forget about their troubles for five minutes.’
She certainly succeeded and then some.
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait and the street art trail open today at the Jewish Museum London, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB.
The trail will run until Saturday, June 4, while the exhibition is on until September 24.