A Visit to the David Bowie Memorial, Brixton

The morning of January the 11th was hard to stomach. Everywhere one looked all news outlets and social media platforms were largely dedicated to mourning the loss of one of Britain’s most unique and talented artists.

The loss of David Bowie has been a loss felt worldwide with a vast array of characters coming out and expressing their sorrow at the icons death – ranging from politicians and sportsmen to artists and musicians – all praising his impact on modern culture and society.

A lot can be taken from the meaning of an artist from the way fans treat the news after it hits. It is in this sense that the passing of David Bowie has felt almost unmatched in recent history. The night after the news broke a spontaneous street party came together in his birthplace of Brixton, with hundreds singing and dancing in the street to his back catalogue to celebrate his memory.

A less transient commemoration of the man has been found in a street mural on Turnstall Road, opposite Brixton Tube Station. The mural (originally painted by Australian artist Jimmy C in 2013) since the death of Bowie has become somewhat of a shrine to the great man. Everything from flowers, candles, t-shirts, cards, posters, newspaper cuttings and glitter have covered the ground directly in front of the painting as fans have gathered in their own time to publicly pay their respects.

Going to the site felt somewhat like a religious experience. A cultural pilgrimage where every visitor was free to mark their moment however they felt fit. The standard procedure was to take photos to remember the moment, and take a few moments to reflect.

What was most interesting after standing at the site for more than a couple minutes was watching the individual ceremonies and acts people had prepared. One woman got on her knees and decorated the ground with three shades of glitter, seconds after two separate men had covered several bouquets of flowers with two different t-shirts with messages written on them. The collection of members from the amassed crowd and the material left behind highlighted Bowie’s ability to reach out to such a diverse fan base as a result of his eclectic nature of his works and projects. Before I left I noticed a woman with a “Misfits” backpack stood next to a local man drinking a tinny who was explaining how: “Heroes’ was one of the best songs ever recorded” to a foreign tourist who didn’t have as much insight into Bowie’s back catalogue. A combination of people you wouldn’t likely find together gathering for a character that had welcomed all.

Going to the mural was special. It provided a moment of closure that felt necessary. A thank you and goodbye to a man that you didn’t know personally but had definitely positively affected either you or the world that you live in.

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