David Bowie’s ‘rich and powerful’ archive to be made public in new venueon February 23, 2023 at 3:11 am

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

The V&A museum has acquired more than 80,000 letters, photographs and costumes from the rock icon.

David BowieImage source, Getty Images

David Bowie fans will get an unprecedented look into his life, work and legacy after the V&A museum acquired the rock star’s archive.

The collection includes more than 80,000 letters, lyrics, photos, stage designs, music awards and costumes.

It also features several instruments owned by the musician, including the Stylophone he played on his breakout 1969 single Space Oddity.

The archive will go on display in 2025 in a newly-created east London venue.

The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performing Arts, in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will provide a “sourcebook for the Bowies of tomorrow”, said Dr Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A.

A self-portrait sketch by David Bowie

Image source, The David Bowie Archive/PA

“It’s an amazing gift,” added Kate Bailey, a senior curator, who previously worked on the museum’s groundbreaking 2013 David Bowie Is… exhibition.

“It traces the whole of Bowie’s career. There are priceless items from his very early days in the in the ’60s, right through to [2013 album] The Next Day and beyond.

“I found it fascinating – the personal insights, the handwritten lyrics, the dialogue with other creative practitioners in terms of how a song is written or how a song is recorded or how a video is treated.

“All of these things are incredibly rich and powerful.”

The star wearing a memorable Kansai Yamamoto costume

Image source, The David Bowie Archive/PA

Other highlights include Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust costumes, designed by Freddie Burretti in 1972, and the union jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the 1997 Earthling album cover.

The collection also features Brian Eno’s EMS synthesizer, used on Bowie’s 1977 albums Low and Heroes; and examples of his “cut-up” technique for lyric writing, which involved literally chopping up existing texts to generate new meanings from the rearranged pieces.

David Bowie lyrics cut up

Image source, The David Bowie Archive/PA

Ms Bailey said the archive had been preserved with “fantastic care” and “meticulous” attention to detail.

“These objects, these documents, had importance to him and you get the sense that, because he was always moving on creatively, it was helpful to park and collect and store [everything] in order to move on to the next character or project.”

The acquisition by the V&A, and the creation of the Bowie centre, was made possible by the David Bowie Estate and a £10m donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation and Warner Music Group.

A colourful quilted outfit worn by Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust era, in the early 1970s

Image source, The David Bowie Archive/PA

In a press release, a spokesperson for Bowie’s estate said: “With David’s life’s work becoming part of the UK’s national collections, he takes his rightful place amongst many other cultural icons and artistic geniuses.

“The David Bowie Centre for the Study of Performance – and the behind the scenes access that V&A East Storehouse offers- will mean David’s work can be shared with the public in ways that haven’t been possible before.”

Producer and guitarist Nile Rodgers, who collaborated with Bowie on the 1983 album Let’s Dance, added: “I believe everyone will agree with me when I say that… if only one artist could be in the V&A it should be David Bowie.

“He didn’t just make art, he was art!”

2px presentational grey line

Follow us on Facebook or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

- Advertisement -




Kieran Hodgson: From Two Doors Down to the Edinburgh Fringeon August 16, 2023 at 12:58 am

The comedian has immersed himself in Scottish life since relocating from London to Glasgow.The comedian has immersed himself in Scottish life since relocating from...

Lincoln: Police chief defends officers dancing Macarena at Pride eventon August 22, 2022 at 11:10 am

A video showing officers doing the Macarena at the Lincoln event attracted social media criticism.Image source, Lincoln PolicePolice officers who were criticised after being...

Leicester City v Norwich City postponed because of Covid cases and injurieson December 30, 2021 at 8:28 pm

Norwich confirm their Premier League game at Leicester on Saturday is off after positive Covid cases and injuries within the Canaries squad.

Brixton Academy: Four critical after suspected crush at Asake gigon December 16, 2022 at 7:46 am

People were said to be forcing their way into the O2 Academy, where Asake was performing.Image source, Getty ImagesEight people have been taken to...

Caterham dog attack: Police investigate after woman killed and another injuredon January 13, 2023 at 9:20 am

Officers ask people "not to speculate" on the circumstances of the fatal attack in Caterham.Police are investigating after a woman died in a dog...