One of Amy Winehouse’s closest creative collaborators has called for a positive reappraisal of her life and work, as he unveils intimate, never-before-seen images of the star.
Phil Griffin – the music video director and photographer who served as Winehouse’s creative counsel during the Back to Black album – says that 10 years on from the singer’s death, people should look past the tragedy and focus on what she achieved while under huge pressure.
Hy het gesê: “I want there to be a positive flow of conversation about her. She’s not just a tragic figure but a human being who was incredibly talented. She was a girl with a story to tell and she wasn’t afraid to tell it.”
Griffin’s new exhibition Amy in the Light is made up of shots he took while working with the star on music videos including Back to Black, You Know I’m No Good and Love Is a Losing Game.
One of the most famous images that Griffin took of Winehouse was of her in a bathtub. It would become the American album sleeve and was captured during an intimate moment on the set of a music video he directed.
“I really remember that because she was in a funny mood and didn’t want anyone near her," hy sê. “So I went behind her when she was in the bathtub getting ready for a shot in the You Know I’m No Good video. ek het gesê, ‘Just don’t move.’”
Griffin, who has worked with Prince, Jay-Z and Black Grape, first met Winehouse when she was working on her debut album, Frank.
He says his memories of her are overwhelmingly positive, such as the night they spent with Prince, who was a fan of Winehouse and asked her to sing for him after a date on his 21 Nights in London tour in 2007.
Griffin would like his friend and collaborator to be remembered as a “quiet beauty” who was also very vulnerable. “She was vulnerable because she wore her heart completely on her sleeve," hy sê.
“That’s OK if you’re a private artist and you have protection around you, but she was so exposed and so vulnerable throughout her career. Her quiet honesty was never given space.”
As the 10th anniversary of her death is marked, Winehouse’s life and legacy has begun to be reassessed.
The Winehouse family, including her father, Mitch, and mother, Janis Winehouse-Collins, took part in a BBC documentary, Reclaiming Amy, which was described as an “agonising, intimate programme” that gave the family and friends’ side of her story.
The documentary was also seen as a riposte to Asif Kapadia’s 2015 documentary Amy, which was critical of her family and was branded “a disgrace” by her father and “a tragic masterpiece” by the Guardian.
Winehouse’s estate are also working on releasing new early music by the singer, as well as a stage musical and a biopic.
Griffin hopes some of the intimate shots he captured will help build a new image of the artist away from tabloid headlines and the tragic end of her life.
“If she’d been born in a different age and was allowed to grow in the way that Diana Ross grew or the way that Ella Fitzgerald grew, she might still have remained a troubled figure, but I think we might still have her," hy sê.
Griffin – who also directed Britney: For the Record, the MTV documentary in which Britney Spears discussed her conservatorship – said Spears approached him after his work with Winehouse.
He said he was pleased the film was now being circulated among Spears campaigners and those who want to see an end to the conservatorship, which since 2008 has taken control away from her of her personal life, career and finances.
“We worked really hard on making sure that it didn’t get seen by anyone until it was broadcast, apart from Britney, and that happened. I think that’s why it exists like it exists," hy sê.