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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The kind of David Bowie exhibition I'd like to see

At today's press launch for the exhibition David Bowie Is, which is coming up next March at the V&A, they had three of his costumes on display. There was the Ashes To Ashes pierrot suit, the Union flag frock coat designed by Alexander McQueen and one of the Ziggy Stardust outfits, for which the brief was droog via Laura Ashley.

The people talking about the exhibition were keen to stress that it was more than a display of costumes, which suggests that it will be a display of costumes. Seeing famous outfits on mannequins always leaves me somewhat underwhelmed. What they should really do is let you try them on.

I was trying to think of the kind of memorabilia exhibition I would really like to see. I guess mine would be less spectacular, more suited to the detailed displays you could pore over in glass cases than the high-impact items around which most exhibitions are built. When we go round art galleries my wife looks at the pictures first and then at the captions. I look at the captions first and then the pictures. I've decided I'm a narrative person.

That's why I'd like to see his childhood bedroom recreated, displays of Bromley town centre through the years, old school books, cheap guitars, bassdrum pedals, a chronology of his haircuts, marked-up tape boxes, old contracts, personal letters, sketches, false starts, crossings-out, studio logs, mixing consoles, bits of kit, clipping from FAB 208, preposterous film scripts, storyboards for videos, things thrown on stage by fans and, most of all, a royalty statement for Tin Machine.