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Southend BID commissions tribute to the ‘Twisted Animator’

Street art painting of Keith Flint goes on display

Following the tragic death of The Prodigy’s Keith Flint, Southend BID has commissioned local artist John Bulley to create a unique tribute to the iconic vocalist and frontman.

Flint, aged 49, took his own life at his home in Great Dunmow earlier this month, leaving friends, family and fans shocked and deeply saddened by his passing.

At the time, his bandmates issued a statement, which read: “It is with deepest shock and sadness that we can confirm the death of our brother and best friend Keith Flint. A true pioneer, innovator and legend.”

It is this sentiment that has inspired Southend BID to pay its own tribute to one of Essex’s greatest and most memorable stars. The huge painting has been created by locally-based John Bulley in situ on Southend High Street. Titled Twisted Animator the profile image of Flint at the height of his fame, is inspired by the Prodigy’s biggest hit, Firestarter.

Southend BID manager Alison Dewey said: “I thought it might be a nice tribute to a brilliant Essex frontman and I, like many people of my generation who experienced the rave scene of the late 80’s and 90’s, loved The Prodigy! John’s painting is a wonderful way to remember Keith.”

She added: “John’s painting of Keith follows on from his previous works in the town centre and on the seafront. People will remember his eye-catching Princess Leia from ‘Star Wars’ on Eastern Esplanade and portrait of The Libertines’ singer Pete Doherty, in Nelson Mews.”

Transforming himself from a long-haired, baggy-clothed dancer in the Prodigy’s video of their early hit Out to Space to the pierced, heavily tattooed neon demon of Firestarter Flint became one of Britain’s most instantly recognisable figures in popular culture.

Firestarter’s black and white video, featuring the wild-eyed, gurning Flint, was initially banned by the BBC after it was screened on Top of the Pops, following complaints from parents saying that it had frightened their children. The lyrics, including the line “I'm the self-inflicted, mind detonator, yeah, I'm the one infected, twisted animator” were Flint’s first for the group. In 2008, he told Q Magazine: “They were about being onstage: this is what I am. Some of it is a bit deeper than it seems.”

Visitors can see Bulley’s artwork underneath the railway bridge spanning the High Street, right now.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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