In 2004, photographer Diane Patrice visited a flat in Camden to document 'a day in the life' of the singer-songwriter who died seven years ago, on July 23. Jennifer Sanin on the story behind the never-before-seen photos of the artist.

It was a crisp February day in 2004 when budding young photographer Diane Patrice of Derby went out on one of her first big commissions.

Patrice had been booked to immortalise a promising talent for a teen magazine. Armed with a vintage 1973 Hasselblad, a 35mm Nikon and a Softbox light, she set off to the Camden flat to capture "a day in the life" of a then-21-year-old Amy Winehouse.

She was greeted at the door by a member of Winehouse's entourage and taken upstairs to wait around with four other people, while her model prepared for the first series of photos.

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A stack of vinyls under the sofa and a hefty pile of shoes draw the viewer into the intimacy of her home life. Photo / Diane Patrice
A stack of vinyls under the sofa and a hefty pile of shoes draw the viewer into the intimacy of her home life. Photo / Diane Patrice

It was a homely place, a "bit like a student flat, or a squat", Patrice remembers. Vintage Vogue posters adorned the walls over the mantelpiece clothes and records were casually strewn across the room. The singer was seemingly infatuated with shoes, of which she had around 40 pairs in baskets, in her closet, on the floor. There was a gaping, unapologetic hole in the ceiling.

"Her voice, her face and her features didn't match. She sounded like a 20-stone checkout girl, she sounded huge. It was a lived-in voice. The whole package was very endearing ... a contradiction in herself," Patrice says.

The young singer took her to the very unassuming little kitchen to make her a cup of tea: "I don't normally wear my hair like this," she said. She seemed to like having it that way.
They started the shoot onsite.

Winehouse took Patrice to an adjacent room, where she was planning to set up a home music studio. Inside the photos, with sunlight pouring in through a large window, bathe the leopard-print clad musician in a cosy pink glow. A stack of vinyls under the sofa and a hefty pile of shoes draw the viewer into the intimacy of her home life.

The PR and makeup crew then whisked them away in "a little people-carrier", to the second venue. All the locations and outfits were chosen by the singer herself, who did not, or would not, adhere to stylists' guidelines.

Amy Winehouse was an avid pool player. Photo / Diane Patrice
Amy Winehouse was an avid pool player. Photo / Diane Patrice

They arrived at the local pool hall. Winehouse was an avid pool player. This was where she would indulge in her carefree years. The very same location appeared in her music video for the song Stronger Than Me.

"A lot of her later pictures were quite vacant, turning her into a caricature ... she was really engaging with the camera in these ones," Patrice says.

After a quick cosmetic touch-up, she slipped into her one-piece of imposed clothing — black Adidas jacket for the sponsor's benefit — and proceeded to pose over and around the pool table.

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Her expression is serious and committed. The girl is no professional model: she's on the brink of laughter in some shots, and appears concentrated in others. She leans over and aims a red ball right at the lens, then straightens up and leans over the table, as if challenging us to a game. "She just embodied the 'London geezer'," says Patrice.

They moved on to her next destination of choice: a vintage shop. A few snapshots of Winehouse perusing and trying on items in a gift shop reflect her retro fashion sense and playful persona.

Diane Patrice was not disturbed by the singer picking up her phone to chat to a friend in the middle of the shoot. Photo / Diane Patrice
Diane Patrice was not disturbed by the singer picking up her phone to chat to a friend in the middle of the shoot. Photo / Diane Patrice

Patrice, in deep concentration and somewhat anxious to perform at one of her first serious commissions, was not disturbed by the singer picking up her phone to chat to a friend in the middle of the shoot. Instead, she caught the candid moment on camera as a genuine casual day out with a mischievous mate.

The next sequence contains some of Patrice's favourite shots of Winehouse, doing her washing at the local launderette.

A red-stilettoed Winehouse transfers her laundry from a turquoise machine into a white hamper, like a scene out of some 1980s college movie. The photographer couldn't get over the state of singer's clothes.

"Her skirt was absolutely filthy. She didn't give a damn that it wasn't clean ... it stays with me because I never saw someone wear something like that at a shoot — I thought, 'Good on you, girl.'"

A red-stilettoed Winehouse transfers her laundry from a turquoise machine into a white hamper, like a scene out of some 1980s college movie. Photo / Diane Patrice
A red-stilettoed Winehouse transfers her laundry from a turquoise machine into a white hamper, like a scene out of some 1980s college movie. Photo / Diane Patrice

They finished up at a neighbouring bar. Winehouse ordered a cranberry juice and the next minute her PR man received a call and whisked the rising star away, her high-spirited self forever imprinted on the film inside Patrice's two cameras.