I attended a charity event a couple of nights ago to celebrate the unveiling of the Keiskamma Altarpiece at Southwark Cathedral in London. This giant tapestry was made over several years by villagers in a small community in South Africa where an HIV AIDS centre is trying to raise money for retardant drugs. It’s a stunning piece, about thirteen feet high by twenty two feet wide, in a kind of tryptych configuration where ‘leaves’ unfold to reveal more scenes. It’s a stunning example of African folk art made up of crochet, wire, beads and string. The ladies who made it were there singing and chanting for us, and Ruby Wax led a silent auction to raise money for their centre.
Then we sat down for dinner in a nearby club called Clink, which I remember from the days when it was a grotty band rehearsal space! So much of London has changed beyond recognition since I was a kid. Seated at myÂ my table were old friends and new: John Reynolds, drummer and producer (and partner of Sinead O’Connor), who played in my first band Amberband when we were both 15; Claire Kenny, a long-time bassist friend; Kevin Armstrong, guitarist and current collaborator; and Brian Eno, whom I finally got to meet after all these years. My admiration for Brian and my musical debt to him are well documented elsewhere, but suffice to say it was a terrific honour and pleasure for me.
If you’re anywhere near London please take a stroll through the lovely Southwark Cathedral and check out this altarpiece!