My artwork tributes to two female ska vocalists to celebrate International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women's Day on Monday, 8 March, I pay tribute to two female ska revival/2 tone musicians - Christine 'Sugary Staple' of From the Specials, aka the Neville Staple Band, and Pauline Black of The Selecter.

2 tone is a genre of British popular music of the late 1970s, early 1980s that fused traditional Jamaican ska with punk rock and new wave music. It referenced a wish to transcend and defuse racial tensions in Thatcher-era Britain. Many two-tone groups on the record label of the same name like The Specials and The Selecter featured a mix of black, white and multiracial people.  

Pauline Black

I caught Pauline Black at Hampton Pool some years back - a fabulous venue where you can have a swim before you sit back with a picnic to enjoy the gig or get up close to the stage for some serious dancing!

The Selecter at Hampton Pool oils on canvas by Stella Tooth

The Selecter Pauline Black and Arthur 'Gaps' Hendrickson £520. To find out more click here.

In a music career of more than 40 years, Black, who has an unforgettable soprano, first became known in the late 1970s as the lead singer of the 2 Tone ska revival band The Selecter which released four singles that entered the UK's Top 40 charts. But my favourite of their songs, without a doubt, is 'Pressure Drop'.

I found The Selecter so inspiring that I experimented capturing their amazing on stage energy in a series of drawings as well as oils. Whereas, for me, oils is about capturing skin tone and personality, drawing is more about markmaking that suggests the energy of live performance.

The Selecter drawing mixed media on paper by Stella ToothThe Selecter mixed media on paper £295.  To find out more click here.

Often I seek to capture the feel of music in my work. This version of The Selecter is about the rhythm of the music where the crisp pause (shown in art as negative space) is just as important as the instrumentals and vocals.  The Selecter mixed media on paper by Stella ToothThe Selecter mixed media on paper £295. To find out more click here

And I find that, at some stage in any great performance, there are moments when the vocalist/s appear to become completely at one with the music- and that makes the performance absolutely electrifying...

The Selecter mixed media on paper by Stella Tooth

The Selecter mixed media on paper £295.  To find out more click here

Christine 'Sugary Staple"

Christine ‘Sugary Staple’ has been writing, producing and performing in film, video and music since her teens and is the wife and manager of Neville Staple (ex The Specials & Fun Boy 3). She brings personality and fun to the stage. She co-spearheaded Skamouth music weekends and works for various charitable trusts and schools, helping children into music and drama.

Christine 'Sugary Staple' mixed media on paper by Stella Tooth SOLDChristine 'Sugary Staple' wife and manager of Neville Staple Band aka From the Specials. SOLD

For music tees featuring this image click here.

Christine Sugary Staple original artwork on music tees by Stella Tooth

If you'd like to see other inspiring women, please click here: Wandsworth Art. 

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