Billy Childish is an English prolific poet, author, musician, photographer, filmmaker, guitarist, and a painter. Since the late 1970s, Childish has been creating music, visual art, writing, and also played in various musical bands. He is a consistent advocate for amateurism and free emotional expression.
A cult figure in Europe, America, and Japan, and has published over 40 collections of poetry. Through his output in these various disciplines, he has developed a reputation for hostility and blissful amateurism, and his work is frequently at odds with concerns of the mainstream literary and art worlds.
Childish left secondary education at the age of 16 and started training to become an apprentice, and later produced a portfolio of more than 600 drawings, for which he was accepted onto the painting course at St Martin’s School of Art in London. He was soon expelled, however, for his outspokenness and unorthodox methods, he spent the next 12 years painting on the dole, during which time he developed a highly personal writing style and was associated with many of artist who would come to be identified as Young British Artists.
Billy Childish is perhaps best known for his relationship with Tracey Emin in the early 1980s, and made a huge influence on her art practice, ‘The confessional art of Tracey Emin’. He also influenced many contemporary rock musicians such as ‘The Milkshakes’, ‘Thee Headcoats’ and the ‘Buff Medways’. He also went onto published several autobiographical novels, including, most notoriously, ‘My Fault, in which he catalogues his childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend. Like his poetry, his prose style is visceral and self-contradicting and irreverent.