Turn a different corner in the London borough of Brent from September and you’ll be confronted with the strangest thing: a nine-metre mural of local hero George Michael.
No this isn’t just a careless whisper. British artist Dawn Mellor has been commissioned to paint a permanent public artwork in Kingsbury, celebrating the life of the singer, who grew up in the area.
The mural will be unveiled during Brent Borough of Culture 2020, alongside a programme of free activities and learning programmes taking place at the local schools Michael attended. The artwork is part of Studio Voltaire elsewhere, a series of ambitious offsite commissions taking place throughout London.
Mellor, who uses the pronouns they/them, has spent the last two decades of their career painting portraits of prominent figures such as the Queen, Karl Lagerfeld and Condoleezza Rice – as well as prominent queer icons including Madonna and Judy Garland. This will be the Manchester-born artist’s first permanent public artwork.
Fans of Michael, who died on Christmas Day 2016, will hope the mural fares better than the one painted in Sydney by Scott Marsh in 2017: that artwork, which depicted the former Wham! and solo star as a saint, was covered in black paint by a 23-year-old man claiming to be defending his religion. The defacement took place days after Australia voted to legalise gay marriage.