David Bowie is…bringing us all together

Learning and Interpretation
April 18, 2013

‘David Bowie is one in a million. He is a huge inspiration to me and a vast majority of the world. He has opened my mind to many new ideas and has shown us that anything is possible.’

Dom Grimshaw

Starman Costume

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I ended my last post by looking forward to the visit by the students of Ravens Wood School to the Museum. Since then, the exhibition ‘David Bowie is’ has opened to the public and is proving to be a phenomenal success. By opening day over 67000 tickets had been sold and more than 1000 journalists from around the world had seen and reported on it.

The students found themselves part of this global interest when interviewed by CNN news about the project:

CNN Click Thru

Video opens in new window.© CNN

Putting a day of activities together at the Museum can be a tricky balance between not swamping the group with too much information and keeping their interest. Obviously, the key activity was to see the exhibition itself to gain further inspiration for the film they are making with Caroline, Jos, Luke, the film company and the V&A.

‘David Bowie is an inspiration that no matter where you are from, you can do what you want as long as you WORK HARD!’

Christina Goedecke

What makes a visit to this exhibition unique is the need to wear headphones to experience the full sound of ‘David Bowie is’, put together specially for the show by Sennheiser.  The group divided into 2, were issued with headphones and the visit began…

David Bowie in The Konrads

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Their responses were interesting, varied and thoughtful and they seemed particularly intrigued to hear the South London accent of the teenage Bowie talking about his future plans…

‘David Bowie is an inspiration showing you can be anything you want to be and can achieve anything you put your mind to, however high’.

Brianna Barwell

The day continued with tours of the Theatre and Performance galleries. This was to give the students a ‘taster’ of the range of incredible objects on display and to introduce them to a historical approach the subject of performance – as well, of course, as providing the opportunity to try on costumes from the handling collection…

‘David Bowie is an inspiration as he pushed boundaries and wasn’t afraid to be who he wanted to be.’

Ella Mulhern

David Bowie Green Suit

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Juliana Sissons, ex –V&A resident costume designer then gave the group an insight into David Bowie’s influence on the fashions of the 1980s and also made them realise how this influence continues on to today’s catwalk.

After a quick lunch, the group worked in the V&A’s Digital Studio, designing their own take on Bowie’s album covers. Alex Flowers, Digital Programmer, showed them some of the famous Bowie covers such as ‘Pin Ups’  and ‘Heroes’ and  the group used Photo Booth, Photoshop and Comic Life to decide on their initial pose, graphic background, type face and eventual title.

It made me wonder how jealous- and amazed – a 25 year old David Bowie and his designers would be at computer programmes like these and how much he would have loved to have had access to them when putting together the cover artwork for, say ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’

‘David Bowie is a person who did exactly what HE wanted to. Now look where he is…’

Jack Gordon

Taking inspiration from the exhibition’s title, ‘David Bowie is’ the group came up with their own ways of ending this open sentence. The results have been spread throughout this post, in a cut-up way…

The day ended with an insight from  Geoff Marsh, Director of the Theatre and Performance collections and co-curator of ‘David Bowie is’ into how the exhibition came together…

The working title of the film, thought up at the end of the session, is ‘David Bowie is…one of us’ and it will be shown at the V&A on 17 July.

‘David Bowie is an inspiration to our students, as it has shown them anything is possible. He is a Bromley boy, a Ravens Wood boy, one of us. The students feel extremely proud to be walking in his footsteps.’

Laura Yandell (teacher)

“We (The Music Academy) feel inspired by the range of ideas presented across the groups. Working with the students and the  creative team, has opened up new approaches that we’ve been exploring. It’s a great challenge!”

Ben Curtis

‘David Bowie is…bringing us all together.’

Annabel Davies (teacher)

About the author

Learning and Interpretation
April 18, 2013

I'm Team Leader for Digital Programmes at the V&A and run events, workshops, talks and festivals with artists and designers who use and experiment with digital tools, processes and manufacturing.

More from Alex Flowers
0 comments so far, view or add yours

Add a comment

Please read our privacy policy to understand what we do with your data.


Join today and enjoy unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews and more

Find out more


Find inspiration in our incredible range of exclusive gifts, jewellery, books, fashion, prints & posters and much more...

Find out more