Not long ago I acquired a very special painting by my artist friend, Fionn Wilson. Christine at 72 is based on one of the last formal photographs of Christine Keeler, captured by Pal Hansen just a few years before her sad passing in December 2017. I’ve decided to place it above my desk: Christine was (of course) the inspiration for my first book, Wicked Baby. And I was born in ’72, so it seems lucky in many ways. For me, this image represents a proud, independent woman looking back on her past and ahead to the future, always with unflinching courage and honesty. I also find it reassuring to contemplate this model of a mature woman, embracing wisdom and experience alongside her beauty and sensuality.
I first got to know Fionn due to our shared fascination with Christine Keeler. Fionn has created many striking portraits which show this British icon in a very different light to the tabloid cliché. For several years, Fionn has been working with other women artists on a multi-faceted project which will be launched next year. She is also in touch with Amanda Coe, whose BBC drama The Trial of Christine Keeler is currently shooting and will air in 2019.
Dear Christine (a tribute to Christine Keeler) will be touring from 2019-2020 to Vane Gallery (Newcastle), Elysium Gallery (Swansea) and Arthouse1 (London) and includes sculpture, painting, poetry, music, film, photography (previously unseen images of Christine) and a performance piece and writing and involves twenty amazing artists. It’s not just about me by a long shot. The contributors are: Natalie d’Arbeloff, Katie Chatters, Caroline Coon, Catherine Edmunds, Roxana Halls, Penelope Hayes, Sadie Hennessy, Marguerite Horner, Barbara Howey, Shani Rhys James, Sally Jones, Jo Wonder Woodward, Sadie Lee, Cathy Lomax, Julia Maddison, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Wendy Nelson, Sarah Shaw and Stella Vine. With writing from Lucy Bernadette Cox, Tara Hanks, Julie Raven (Julie Burchill), Tanya Gold, Cathy Lomax, Caroline Coon and Bo Gorzelak Pedersen.
Naturally, I’ll be keeping you all updated as these events develop. In the meantime, Fionn has written about Christine for the current issue of Garageland magazine, taking ‘Difficult Women’ for its theme. (And while we’re on the subject … where would we be without those wicked ladies, anyway?)