This is the first in a series of truly far-out posts celebrating the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne. If ever there was any doubt about Melbourne’s cultural credentials, the inclusion of David Bowie Is in this years Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series is a clear indication of this city’s creative sensibilities. Keeping in theme with the Masterpieces aim of balancing ‘curatorial excellence with popular appeal’, David Bowie Is invites the public to explore the inner world of one of the most influential artists and performers of the last fifty years. For the uninitiated, all that is needed to enjoy the exhibition is an appreciation for art, design and music, and a willingness to love the alien.

Yesterday morning I was lucky to enough to attend the media preview of the exhibition at ACMI and view the show before the public opening today. Among the throng of journalists, writers, performers and critics in attendance, it was clear that many were also life-long fans. The preview day opened with a series of introductions, including Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, ACMI Director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick, V&A Curator Victoria Broackes and Gerrixinald M. Quim, who moved the crowd with a stirring rendition of “Let’s Dance” in, yes, an Aladdin Sane lightening bolt dress. A quote by Bowie on the wall behind her, read:

All art is unstable. Its meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author. There is no authoritative voice. There are only multiple readings (1995).



The exhibition itself features more than 300 objects from David Bowie’s personal archives, including over 50 costumes, filmed live performances, never before seen storyboards, photographs and more. Alongside the exhibition, ACMI is hosting a diverse range of talks, events, film-screenings, workshops and performances for fans of all ages – including my talk about David Bowie and science fiction as part of the Strange Fascinations series in October (stay tuned for the blog post!).

The exhibition was every bit as magical, immersive and mind-blowing as I had expected. The sheer volume and range of material is staggering. From a Tibetan Buddhist print, hung in Bowie’s flat in South Kensington in the 1960s, to the Verbasizer, a computer software program for Mac created by Bowie with Ty Roberts in 1995 that uses cut-up techniques for generating ideas and lyrics – the range is every bit as eclectic as Bowie himself.

In addition to this, the exhibition boasts a number of “big ticket” items, including the Kansai Yamamoto striped bodysuit for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973), the Brian Duffy photograph of Bowie for the Aladdin Sane photo cover (1973), the Freddie Burretti Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit (1972) and Bowie’s self-portrait in pose adopted for the Heroes album cover (1978), plus many more. My personal highlights include: a letter from Ralph Horton to Ken Pitt confirming the legal changing of David’s name from David Jones to David Bowie (1965); the Diamond Dogs stage set model based on George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1974); the Ziggy Stardust knitted asymmetric bodysuit (1972); and the wall-to-wall video screens projecting images and videos of Bowie’s iconic performances.




ACMI Director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick describes the exhibition as a groundbreaking testament to Bowie’s profound and everlasting impact on the worlds of music, fashion and culture and as a fusion of art, design and performance.

We are thrilled to be hosting the Australian incarnation of David Bowie Is… It is an exhibition that not only illuminates the extraordinary breadth of Bowie’s creative genius and his enormous impact over the decades – but it is also a beautifully curated and staged experience that will delight the many thousands of people who will see it in the coming weeks and months.

This exhibition is a treat for all lovers of popular culture, design, performance and art. The skillful execution and curation of the exhibition by ACMI and V&A makes for a truly immersive and inspiring experience. I cannot recommend this event highly enough. Plus, for the collector in you, the ACMI shop is a veritable treasure trove of Bowie merchandise and paraphernalia.


David Bowie is opens today and runs at ACMI, Federation Square until November 1st, 2015. For program and ticketing information, visit

Feature image via