Hustler, b-boy, graf artist, jungle legend, father, philosopher, soap star, Bond villain and reality TV guest, now the gold-toothed gangsta finally reappears at pretty much the place he came in, perhaps initially what opened the door to the world he lives in now; artwork.
Bounced around orphanages and foster parents, Goldie was forced to find his own sense of identity and the self-reliance that marks his progress to date. Throwing caution to the wind, he left the UK to sell engraved gold teeth in Miami and New York, becoming immersed in the rising hip hop culture of the ‘80s and throwing himself into breakdancing and graffiti. He carved out a name for himself painting trains in New York before returning to London in ’91 and launching himself into the emerging rave culture.
Artwork and raving broke open the entrance to production; as he danced through doorways, designing sleeve covers for Reinforced Records. Goldie eventually managed to persuade the company to let him release his first single, ‘Terminator’, in ’93. His label, Metalheadz, followed swiftly after, with the massive first album, Timeless, providing the soundtrack to the 90s.
The rest is pretty much common knowledge, life was a high-wire wet-dream for the media with a marriage here, a TV show there, divorce, movie stardom and burn-outs. But now Goldie’s unstoppable self-evolution has forged a new body of work, again forcing the boundaries of acceptance and truth that he pushed back in the 80s and 90s.
Looking back to Goldie’s graff heyday, he recalls a ‘snotty-nosed kid’ from Bristol called Banksy hanging around watching them paint. But Goldie’s been doing this since before it was cool; for him, artwork seems to be a way for his relentless creative demons to explain a world that couldn’t quite fit him in.
Recently Goldie presented ‘Love Over Gold’. Comprising of a 34-piece collection, the exhibition challenged our conceptions and ideals of sexuality and desire. Using glamour girl shots taken by a photographer friend, Goldie throws his love to strangers, reworking the notion of phonebox call-girl ads, adding paint and pen over the top. The series explored some pretty big ideas of obsession, repression, corruption and perversion of our spirit and behaviour.
Encouraging the onlooker to accept their own bodies and their ideal looks, Goldie presses us to accept sexuality as something wholesome and natural. He challenges how we see prostitution and invites us to embrace this sexuality as something altogether beautiful and intrinsic to us all.
Perhaps most interesting of all are the parallels to be drawn between Goldie’s own life and the lyrics of the Dire Straits song from which the exhibition borrows its name:
“It takes love over gold
And mind over matter
To do what you do that you must
When the things that you hold
Can fall and be shattered
Or run through your fingers like dust”
Form your own opinions about Goldie and his perceptions of human nature, but take note of one thing above all, it takes courage and tenacity to get anywhere in this life, when it can so easily slip from your grasp and fall to pieces around you.