David Bowie is so many things. I have loved his music for years, and had some vague understanding of his importance to culture and the world. But I never fully took that on board.
His sudden return after so long surprised me, as did my overwhelming feelings of joy. Somehow I had taken on more than I thought. Perhaps it was just ingrained in us at birth, I don’t know.
This lead me to want to know the facts. The brilliant documentary that aired on the BBC recently opened a window and now I’m hooked. I’m infinitely jealous of the people who got to see Bowie live and to experience all his achievements as they happened.
Needless to say if Bowie tours, it’s going to be bye bye savings account!
One of my all time favourite records is Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (of course) which I have on vinyl along with a few compilation albums. It comes out regularly and Five Years is easily my favourite song of his. Apparently he did it in one take whilst crying. Beautiful.
I have the David Bowie Is book, which one of my favourite designers is responsible for. I’ve (sadly) hardly had any chance to look at it. I keep periodically stroking it. It’s next up when my other books are finished.
Today I had the joy to visit the exhibit itself.
There’s something so inspiring about peeking into Bowie’s world. I love how he decided he wanted to try something, and then did. It’s reassuring that he had struggles and frustrations along the way, but I’ve always got the impression that he never let that stop him.
I love how he’s his own work of art. There doesn’t seem to be anything he doesn’t touch. Art, music, drama. He has a confidence and a presence. Like someone truly making the most of every opportunity, not wasting a second (something he touches on in some interviews).
I have to say, I wasn’t expecting the exhibit to be as good as it was. The amount of thought and attention to detail was exquisite. I didn’t like the idea of the headsets at first, but they made the whole experience that much more immersive.
It’s the first exhibit I have ever been to that featured many, many people wandering around singing. I loved that level of engagement. So many people were reading every single little information card.
Some things, like the scraps of paper with random things written on them, blew me away. First of all, who on earth thought to keep all these things? Second of all, they are the closest you’re ever going to get to Bowie’s thoughts and feelings at the time of creation. There’s something so raw and beautiful about that.
I’ve seen Jareth’s staff and crystal ball (I’m sure there’s an innuendo in there somewhere!). This makes me very happy. I was a little sad we couldn’t take pictures (I was spoiled when in New York) and no sketching. I understand why, but there were so many things there that I would have loved to have captured for myself.
There is a room in that exhibit that is almost sensory overload. You’re surrounded by three large (and I mean large) screens, some areas of them contain hidden costumes, but most of them are covered in live footage of various Bowie gigs. The music is in your head. There are lyrics and notes on display. It feels like being inside his performance. I could have stood in there for hours.
I was so sad to leave, but it was time to let others enjoy the spectacle.
I almost went crazy in the gift shop, but remembered I already had the book. I settled for a postcard, poster and some lightning bolt earrings.
I can’t wait to read the book and to continue to learn more about this once in a millennia genius.
David Bowie Is… genius.