"intimate writings, thought processes and unreleased projects"
Bringing together more than 80, 000 commodities which collectively span six decades of his career; the Victoria and Albert Museum’s up-to-the-minute David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts, set to be introduced in 2025 at the V+A East Storehouse location, can be aptly described as a space that entices us to walk a mile through the instruments, stage-costumes and handwritten compositions of the man who, along with his galvanising personas, rewrote the facade of rock music.
Acquired from the David Bowie Estate, the centre will showcase items including “intimate writings, thought processes and unreleased projects” along with sheet music and set designs. Alongside them, must-see pieces such as the rock pioneer's electrically outlandish ensembles, designed by Freddie Burretti and worn by his extroverted alter ego Ziggy Stardust in 1972, costumes from the Aladdin Sane 1973 tour and the notorious Union Jack coat fabricated by Alexander McQueen for the Earthling 1997 album cover, are all come together to paint a kaleidoscopic picture of Bowie’s life on and off the stage.
At its heart, this retrospective is both an ode to music and the indomitable influence Bowie played in shaping it, so much so that the Victoria and Albert Museum have illustrated the space as being a “sourcebook for the Bowies of tomorrow.” Handwritten lyrics from compositions such as ‘Fame’, ‘Heroes’ and 'Ashes To Ashes’ for instance are all set to be displayed, so too is Brian Eno’s EMS synthesiser from Bowies Low and Heroes along with a stylophone gifted by T. Rex guitarist Marc Bolan, used on the Space Oddity recording.
“In 2013, the V&A’s David Bowie Is….exhibition gave us unquestionable evidence that Bowie is a spectacular example of an artist, who not only made unique and phenomenal work, but who has an influence and inspiration far beyond that work itself” Tilda Swinton, one of Bowie’s close friends and collaborators explains.
“Ten years later, the continuing regenerative nature of his spirit grows even further in popular resonance and cultural reach down through younger generations. In acquiring his archive for posterity, the V&A will now be able to offer access to David Bowie's history — and the portal it represents — not only to practising artists from all fields, but to every last one of us, and for the foreseeable future. This is a truly great piece of news, which deserves the sincerest gratitude and congratulations to all those involved who have made it possible.”