Mural painted in tribute to Newham-raised fashion designer Alexander McQueen
PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 October 2018
The nephew of Alexander McQueen has spoken of the Newham-raised designer's death at the unveiling of a tribute to the star.
Speaking at the launch of a skull motif mural in Ebor Street, Shoreditch, Gary McQueen told how he “went into shock” after his uncle’s suicide at the age of 40.
The mural, which features a skull veiled behind motifs from still life painting, will be on display until the end of the month and was created as a tribute to the late fashion designer.
The 40-year-old, who grew up in Stratford and attended Rokeby School and Newham College, had risen through the ranks of the fashion world before he took his own life in 2010.
Gary explained that the late fashion innovator poured his nightmares and dreams into his work.
“I was working with him on a memorial for my nana and grandad,” he said. “He called me into his office. He said ‘I want you to finish this now. Find a sculptor and I’ll fund everything’.
“He seemed a lot brighter than he had for the past couple of weeks. I thought he was actually getting better. Then I came in and was told the news. You can’t really process it. I went into shock.”
He added: “There was that attachment to death, to the darkness. That was in his work.
“Everything he was went into his work - his nightmares, his dreams, his fears, his loves. All of it.
“Art has always been an escape, same for me. It takes you away from your troubles.”
Gary said it was his artistic uncle who helped push him into his own creative career, and he has childhood memories of watching the future award-winning designer draw.
Years later the opportunity arose for them to work together, and Gary said his uncle held together a crazed studio.
He said: “We would order huge blocks of ice in. There would be interns rolling around in paint on the floor. There was always something going on.
“Lee [McQueen’s real first name] was so creative, he always had an idea. He was the brain, we were the nervous system.
“To be honest, a lot of the time we didn’t know what we were working on until the show when it would all come together.”