A few weekends ago I headed down to London as my other half was running the marathon. Aside from watching the marathon itself, drinks on the South Bank and seeing how lovely the area around Greenwich is in the sunshine, one of the other highlights of the trip was a visit to the V&A’s David Bowie is.
Although I’ve never been a die hard Bowie fan, I’ve always been into his music and a lot of bands, artists and writers I love have either influenced or been influenced by Bowie’s work. The exhibition is the first international retrospective of his career and the V&A were granted exclusive access to Bowie’s personal archive in order to create it. Charting the influence of his childhood and upbringing on his early work and the various factors which contributed to his ever changing style and reinvention, the exhibition uses over 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, stage designs, photographs and costumes to flesh out one of pop’s greatest enigmas. There are dedicated rooms to his studio recordings, the Berlin years and his (surprisingly) prodigious acting appearances on stage and screen which are interlinked by various music videos, live performances and original stage costumes. The exhibition culminates in a vast central space with floor to ceiling screens across three walls all showing live performances by Bowie whilst the iconic costumes from his career peer spookily out at you from behind black gauze.
As the content of the exhibition comes from Bowie’s personal archive, it’s almost as interesting to see what’s been left out as what’s been included. As far as I could see, there was no mention of his folk roots or the influence of his first wife Angie Bowie, and the Berlin section only had a very brief mention of Iggy Pop. It’s odd that there are such omissions when Bowie’s cocaine spoon made the cut!
To accompany the exhibition, the ever wonderful V&A Shop has produced an assortment of David Bowie is merchandise to satisfy your inner fangirl (or boy) which ranges from some very beautiful, if very expensive, prints and photographs to more whimsical (and cheaper) t-shirts, plectrums and stickers. My personal favourites are the Bowie tote bag and the Scary Monsters pin badge.
David Bowis is is on at the V&A until 11th August and well worth catching if you can manage to get a ticket. Oh and just to prove how beautiful Greenwich is in the sunshine (even at 9am on a Sunday!), see below. Hopefully I’ll get chance to explore it more on a future visit.