I rarely visit exhibitions that cost money but given that my wife is a Bowie fan this one was a must for her birthday treat. We have Art Fund membership which entitled us to half price tickets that were in total £15 for the pair of us. So off we toddled to our allotted time slot entrance to the exhibition (I won’t bore you with the rail issues on the way). The first thing that happens when you get in is that you are given a headset. The headset is a KEY part of the exhibit. There is none of that looking for a number and typing it in. This exhibit uses sensors to feed you audio based on your location within the exhibit. Freaking awesome.
The biggest problem for me with this exhibit was that the very first bit has so much to read and listen to that it created a natural bottleneck. Too many people too close to me. I will admit to going through this section a little quicker than I would have liked. It was fascinating to be thrown back to how Bowie viewed his formative years. There were bits of TV shows and some of his early art work. It really did feel like it was created by him to express how he feels about that period.
As you move in to the next section you start to see set lists and original song lyrics. Bowie has terrible handwriting. That made me feel good. It was also at this point that you start to see the costumes. If you have any interest in fashion or costumes then these costumes and the extra information about Kansai Yamamoto will more than justify the admission cost. For those of you who wonder how skinny The White Duke is in real life one of the suits was borrowed by Kate Moss for a photo shoot and it had to be let out by two inches. That made me chuckle.
The second of the big areas has a lot more costumes and space. I felt a lot more relaxed here. I watched the whole of the Life On Mars video standing in front of the suit Bowie wore. Just surreal. There was also a little cinema showing some of Bowie’s film clips (I must watch Labyrinth again). The grand finally was the concert wall. Just WOW! It was amazing to sit there with other people just watching the massive video walls. It almost felt like being there at points. There were people singing and dancing and every single person was grinning. It was only as I walked in to the shop that I realised my face muscle ached from where I must have been grinning for an hour solid. I could have spent another hour in there if it was less crowded and I was less tired but it was fantastic. Probably the best exhibition I’ve ever experienced.
Go book some tickets now whilst you can.