A chance conversation in the lift at VU, led to a visit to ACMI, to see the much feted Bowie show. My niece, an artist, from Hobart, and I plunged into the abyss, preparing to be dazzled, and we were.
Its a comprehensive show exported from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and is exuberant, cunningly staged and encapsulates the man, his art, and life’s work, in an easy to view format.
I loved Bowie as a teen and was mightily impressed by his vision, and body of work. My highly prized ” Diamond Dogs” vinyl LP was on permanent rotation in our lounge room, only being marginally louder than the racket coming from the ladies lounge below us, as we lived above the family run pub. It was the heady days of the 70’s, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and I adored the music of the Stones, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Led Zeppelin and Hendrix, to name a few. My 16 year old self would gyrate to Rebel, Rebel, in in my crushed velvet, turquoise, bellbottoms, tottering on my green patent leather wedges, under the scornful eye of my elder brother. He would run to his room and play the Beatles, White Album, hoping to drown Bowie out.
A cacophony of sound rang across the rooftops of South Melbourne, Bowie and the Beatles providing the soundtrack of my youth, whilst the ladies swilled sweet sherry and shandies, in the saloon below. The hair was always problematic, my wild unruly curls refused to be tamed into the regulation bowiesque, red dyed, bristled, dunny brush look, and I had to content myself with the Hendrix Afro.
The afro has subsided, the bellbottoms, and patent leather wedgies are long gone, as is the pub, but my son has purloined my vinyl. I caught him smuggling it put of the house, and one day I will return it to its rightful owner. Go and see Bowie’s show. The paintings and linocuts of his Berlin period are particularly poignant and powerfully executed, providing a record of his and Iggy Pop’s, battle with drug addiction. I particularly loved his Union Jack ensemble, up close its torn,
pockmarked, distressed and purposefully aged appearance, is an aesthetic I love, and use in my own visual art practice. An innovative, enquiring, multi talented, visual and sound artist across many fields of creative output, his work remains highly relevant, stimulating and stunning to this day.