I should have blogged this earlier as today is the last chance to see my entry in the London Design Festival 2016. I’ve been a bit busy writing a chapter that relates to the themes that my art/design piece discusses. More about that when I deliver the conference presentation on it.
The work is a mirror through which fans can reflect on their mortality. Cheery, huh? In particular, it’s for all those fans who, like me, see something of themselves in the sad death earlier this year of David Bowie, my idol, my hero, my mirror growing up. It’s not actually a mirror – and I apologise to the LDF organising committee for the confusion and them having to ask where’s that mirror got to – but I had indeed been inspired by mirrors, the ones I collected as a boy; backed with vague outlines of Ziggy – or the Duke – and BOWIE printed proudly in black, they came in all sizes, stuck with a safety pin through as a make-do-badge or big enough to paint your face by before a Friday night spent trying to get into pubs, clubs and discos. You found the badges at record fairs, an alternative to the button badges I invariably brought home in the fruitless searches for The Prettiest Star (Mercury, 1970). My exhibition piece is not that kind of mirror, but it is about reflections, fan reflections, and reflections on mortality.
I am very proud to have the opportunity to submit anything to anywhere but I did hesitate about submitting this. For two reasons. Firstly, as one of the exhibition team mused, it is an incredibly personal piece compared to the other design pieces being hung. It is what I call the fan-sandwich, a collision of ‘found’ designs with the fan in the middle. At 13, the iconic Aladdin Sane album was the first piece of design that talked to me, while the front page of The Sun reporting Bowie’s death continues to be a conversation I try to avoid. Each design subverts the other even while magnifying the other’s power, and I found myself caught in the middle of this affective collision, forever trying to break the relationship and bring the two back together. I mentioned there was a second reason. Ah yes, it really is a very personal piece you know.
As I say, I’m writing a chapter on these themes, so I don’t want to talk it all out here. A massive shout out though to photographer Brian Duffy from whose original session both Aladdin Sane and The Sun versions are taken. I also want to genuinely thank those folk who have been kind enough to get in contact with me and share their feelings about the piece. Here’s to the good fan memories!
14 September – 14 October
London Design Festival