TOYAH’S BLOG: JUNE 2020

Category: Toyah's Blog

HELLO THERE!

I hope you and your families are safe and well.

Hasn’t the world changed since the beginning of May? I am looking at my last blog and my life is unrecognisable today!

 It is full on back to work, not as a live artist just yet but certainly as a TV artist…it’s all GO!

 Posting short films during the lockdown has been one of the best decisions of my recent life. I had no idea these films would not only reach a worldwide audience but also worldwide press/ directors/ writers/ fellow artists.

Then a couple of weeks ago a new, really positive tangent happened and that was Shirley Manson’s unexpected but incredibly generous open letter to me about how she felt afraid to acknowledge me as an influence because I was mainstream and considered uncool.

 

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This is Toyah Willcox and this is a true story. I loved her growing up but I never admitted it publicly because I knew deep down that it wasn’t considered very cool by the serious music press to do so. The worst possible thing for me at that age was to be thought of as uncool. However truth was she fascinated me and I think it’s fair to say I studied her. By that I mean I obsessed over photographs of her in magazines and tried to emulate her fabulous,esoteric style, copy her make up, style my hair like she did. Toyah wasn’t considered very culturally “important” like Siouxsie was. She was effervescent. She had a cute little lisp. She seemed a bit nerdy and she was considered pretty mainstream. I was 15 and pretty mainstream myself but as I said, needed more than anything to appear cool to my peers so I kept my tastes to myself.

I owe her an apology for, upon discovering she was an idiosyncratic firecracker and not ice cool, withholding my love. I apologize. And I want to thank her. For everything . For being a weirdo. For taking risks. For fucking trying and not being afraid. I love you Toyah Wilcox. I wish I’d declared myself publicly sooner but it’s better late than never. “Don’t want to go to school. I want to be free. I want to be me”  READ FULL MESSAGE 

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Possibly the success of my singles, such as It’s A Mystery 39 yrs ago contributed to this, on the other hand I have never looked back and I am grateful for my history. What Shirley is reflecting is her own pressures of being held in the light of others’ artistic snobbery. Something many artists know well and how it leads to “selected history” within certain media. 

Thanks to Shirley, the immediate response was for many more people to come forward and say they too were influenced, inspired and given courage through my work. Thew views on This Is Your Life on YouTube have recently gone up significantly which indicates people want to know “Who is Toyah Willcox”.

I have survived pretty well in the past without recognition from the history writers who play god with other peoples careers. 

There is so much to thank you for in the past four weeks. The response to the online Toyah Concert LIVE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM on Saturday 23 May was fantastic!

Many people touching base from all over the world. It was a joy to experience, the band where on great form and a lot of fun.

Lockdown has allowed me to reach an international audience and I am hugely grateful for that. I suspect a LOT of people this time next year will be able to look back and see that lock down has improved their lives some way or another.

My personal leap is in seeing how powerful social media is and going back to Shirley’s letter I have awakened to the fact if the mainstream and the higher echelons don’t support you there is a mightier audience out there waiting to connect.

Having a lockdown Birthday was a wonderful thing. The usual world being silent meant I could hear and absorb all the incredible messages coming in on social media and spend time unwrapping presents……I got presents in lockdown!

 Over the years hubby has been aware I really like him choosing gifts I can wear and remember him by when I am away working, things that I can cherish, so a pair of blue topaz earrings and L.K. Bennett dress were gratefully received.

For hubby I bought him a Unicorn Onesie….I’ve not seen it on him yet! A clock, a pair of enamelled pigeon cufflinks (his grandfather raced pigeons)… and I painted him a triptych. His face when he opened it, its large, he stood there silently absorbing it, then he does what he always does when he really likes something and he carried the paintings around the house looking at them from different aspects.

I am in love with the artists Maud Lewis (especially), Helen Frankenthaler and Frieda Kahlo, so my personal style of painting has developed into a hybrid of all three but with a footing in the absurd.

Maud Lewis represents for me how “will” wins overt critical response, as you can imagine this is a huge and meaningful thing in my life.

Maud is both about survival and also recognition, having been born into a broken body that cast her into a solitary life in the beautiful but demanding landscape of Nova Scotia in 1903. Her purity of expressing herself equals the purity and originality of Estonian Folk Lore to me and I have a passion for marrying the “normality” of life to the “absurd” of life…..most times both these sit side by side.

Having released little film clips every Sunday for lockdown, I am secretly thrilled that absolutely no one has picked up on my love of DADA which has always played a large part in my life, since punk and even though I am not a political artist, sometimes turning the “domesticity” of our lives upside down makes it easier to cope with.

The lockdown films also helped me to help Robert who was becoming increasingly sedentary and I need him to not only move but to laugh too.

It’s getting busy now, the noise has returned but luckily not the level of interruption and mind numbing bureaucracy as before.

I hope you are all feeling positive, I certainly am. There is talk of Drive In Festivals, not sure how they will work, it’s a big ask to expect people to sit in their cars and watch live music but it’s hope for the future while the vaccine is being developed.

Personally I am in full training mode, the lockdown gave me much needed physical rest but now I need to build strength, I lost weight in lockdown and that means I lost strength too.

Three one hour sessions a week in the gym is all I can fit in with a trainer and IT’S ENOUGH!

I am keenly aware people need positivity and hope at this time……I will keep trying my best to put smiles on you faces.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU……. FOR BEING YOU.

BE LOUD, BE PROUD, BE HEARD
LOVE TOYAH
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