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My box of 80s art memories

Art has always been part of my life. I have vague memories of playing with paints in junior school, they were basic colours in powder form that had to be mixed in plastic pots that had raised sides (why I remember this I do not know!). I also recall having fun blowing inks through a tube to create fun patterns and making imaginative collages with various materials. I wish I still had the innocent bravery of a childhood artist that I had then now.


My senior school art teacher was called Mr Porteous and he wore a mustard colour corduroy jacket that had leather patches on the elbows, he had loose brown wavy hair and a thick moustache that had touches of red in it. Art and English were my favourite school subjects so that may be why I remember him so clearly. I remember being set the task of painting a picture based on the subject of 'the inside looking out' and I painted a lady looking outside her living room window on a rainy day. I went through a phase of loving to draw the human eye and I drew a giant eye filled with lots of smaller eyes inside the iris, where the eyelashes of multiple eyes merged it had a gothic horror effect. I also remember drawing a portrait of a punk singer called Beckie Bondage sitting on a bench! Sadly my school art portfolio has been lost but I would have loved to have looked back at my childhood art work.


I recently cleared my loft out and found a box with memorabilia from the 80s, there were some concert programmes (Level 42, Michael Jackson and Gary Numan) and portraits of pop stars that I drew when I was 12 or 13 years old. I remember seeing The Human League, Madonna, Howard Jones and Five Star but as a teenager Depeche Mode were my favourite band and I was lucky to see them several times. I remember spending weekends with my friend Gill in our bedrooms sketching portraits of our favourite idols from covers of magazines like Smash Hits and NME. We used to send them to record companies in the hope that our then heroes would sign our pictures.


I sent a portrait of Madonna to a then teenage magazine called Patches and I was chuffed to bits when it was published as the 'portrait of the week' on the letters page. I remember being sent my prize, a cheque in the princely sum of £3.50!


Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael kindly autographed my portrait of them, at the time I was rubbish at drawing teeth and Andrew had written 'nice teeth job'.... I bet they had a chuckle when they saw my portrait of them! I also noticed that on one of my pictures of Alan (Depeche Mode) I had asked him how long have you been playing a synth and he wrote 'about 10 years'.


When my education finished and I started work I stopped producing artwork, I visited art exhibitions in my spare time but did not draw or paint any more. In 2016 I watched a new programme called Sky Portrait Artist of the Year and one of the artists melted wax and used it to create texture on a man's chin, that and other painting techniques reignited my fire to want to create art myself again! I did a small portrait of Dita Von Teese, then Elizabeth Taylor and then tried to paint a building, Town House in Spitalfields. I had never painted a building before and I was, and still am, hooked!


Finding my treasure trove of 80s portraits has reminded me of how much joy art gave my life when I was young and I'm happy to say it still does today.


1980s collage drawn with felt tip pens


Wham! "Nice teeth job!"

The Thompson Twins

Madonna and letter from Patches magazine below

Tears for Fears

Andy/'Fletch' of Depeche Mode

Alan of Depeche Mode





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