Bromley is known to any Bowie connoisseur as a place of significance. Along with Beckenham and Brixton, (all the ‘B’s), Bowie spent time there during the late 60’s and 70’s heyday. To hold a Bowie art exhibition in Bromley would always be special, but especially this year as it marks 50 years of the Arts Lab and is the 50th anniversary of the first release of Space Oddity. The Arts Lab was all about growing local talent and an Arts Lab gig was held at the Ripley art Centre in Bromley, so, fittingly, the exhibition will take place exactly in same venue and even the same month as the original. In November 1969, the legendary David Bowie played there and by all accounts it was an amazing night, along with Comus aka Roger Wootton and the venerable Chime Rinpoche (Bowie's Buddhist teacher) who talked about Tibet and meditation. Just imagine all that unlimited creativity in that room.
On 15th November, #ArtLab50 will launch an exhibit of Bowie works featuring Maria Primolan and Sara Captain, who are two exceptional artists and, in my opinion, the best of the best when it comes to Bowie art. I never thought I would say that two Bowies are better than one but, in this instance, it is true. Their styles complement each other. Maria is a fantastic sculptureist and her works are instantly recognisable as David Bowie. Joining her is Sara Captain, who is best known as the amazing artist of the Zizzi’s Murals at what was formally Three Tuns in Beckenham. Every piece of Sara’s work has a Bowie essence that she captures brilliantly, and it is clear she paints with love. This joint venture is a unique and stunning tribute to both David Bowie and the arts lab.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a private showing before the launch. Both Maria and Sara told me how special this event is to them.
I asked Sara what Bowie means to her. She replied, ‘He means depth. Light. Inspiration’. Boy Blue is one of her most recent pieces. I asked her about it. ‘This piece represents Space Oddity, which was the first album I played on repeat. This period I think he was quite vulnerable and yet he finds an outlet for that in the music. We can see more of his soul in that album. I hope to have captured a tiny glimmer of his soul in this piece. He looks angelic in this piece’. Maria loves David so much she is lost for words. She told me to her he represents a desire for change, a transformation. ‘It’s my only passion, my obsession. I find it hard to find the words – he is more than just music to me. He is a spiritual guide’. It is clear that both artists truly love Bowie and that is expressed in this exhibition. The artwork on display - lovingly executed portraits and drawings and stunning sculptures in various media including Maria’s showpiece 'the Angel's gift' are something to behold.
Alongside all this amazing art, tonight’s launch featured special guest, Roger Wootton from Comus, who played Arts Lab gigs with Bowie right up to the days of Space Oddity. He was there to offer us some new songs and take us back in time with his stories of the Arts Lab. There was even a chance to ask questions.
Artslab50 exhibition opens on 15th November and will be on display until 20th December. What a perfect Christmas present some of you will be opening under your tree as there is original artwork to purchase as well as limited edition prints and other special items.
The exhibition is held at The Ripley Arts Centre, 24, Sundridge Avenue, Bromley. BR1 2PX
You can see more of the work here.