When I was 19 I discovered Patti Smith's album Horses. Someone had left it lying in the grubby trails of oil paints, clay and charcoal fingerprints that filled the studio I shared with two other art students. There was no-one around, and the acoustics were perfect. Dirty old floorboards greeted the keyboard intro to Gloria like old friends, and by the time the chorus came I felt like I, and everything in that room had woken from a deep slumber.
Patti Smith has stirred me once again with her recent autobiographical work Just Kids. Without focusing on the celebrity aspect of her life, she invites us through the back streets of her artistic journey, visiting her late teens and early twenties as she embraces the harshness and beauty of new York City in the late sixties. It is here that she meets the young Robert Mapplethorpe, and enters one of the most significant relationships of her life. Wild, young and free, little do either of them know that the incredible love and faith they have in one another would fuel their artistic careers to the extent that they did. This is a tale of magic and hardship, faith and courage, but above all, a tender memoir.
Photograph: Robert Mapplethorpe