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Dublin Bowie Festival Kicks Off Today

Dublin Bowie Festival kicks off today (Jan 8) following a launch party last night at Rathfarnham Castle.

Running until January 12, the festival features 27 events over five nights – all in some way connected to the Starman. This year, fans of the legendary singer are in for a treat, with the event focused on celebrating the 50th anniversary of his seminal record The Man Who Sold the World.

Speaking at last night’s event, founder and director of the festival John Brereton discussed the 1970 record and how it influenced this year’s event poster, featuring the singer illustrated on a pack of cards as the king of diamonds.

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Way ahead of its time and revolutionising gender expression and fluidity, obviously the Bowie dress cover is the one we all know and love in connection with The Man Who Sold the World,” said Brereton. “He’s trying to emulate the Pre-Raphaelites [a 19th century art movement], the long flowing blonde locks and the dress.”

“On the cover of the album, Bowie’s holding a pack of cards and the King of Diamonds is the one he has in his hand. The King of Diamonds is the only king that shows one eye and obviously Bowie was making a reference that after eight years of experimenting with different styles, he was very focused. He has an axe there. He’s ready for war, to take on everyone.”

Continuing, Brereton noted: “This is where the real Bowie story starts. The darkness in the lyrical themes really sets the album apart. Bowie had made a massive leap in his own expression, his art. The Man Who Sold the World is in the middle of the folky Dylan-esque Space Oddity and Hunky Dory, a singer-songwriter classic.”

At the launch, attendees got a sneak peek at Silhouettes & Shadows, the art exhibition running at Rathfarnham Castle everyday from 9.30am to 4.45pm until Jan 12. It features portraits of Bowie by painter Sara Captain and sculptures devoted to the singer by Maria Primolan.

Speaking to Travel Ireland about her fascination with Bowie, Captain – who will also discuss the singer and the Pre-Raphaelites at a talk on Jan 11 in Rathfarnham Castle – said: “He’s not only great. He’s interesting. He brought high culture into rock and roll and opened it up to a lot of people that otherwise wouldn’t have had access to it. He was truly unique in that respect.”

“To me, he’s the quintessential open mind. Whatever he did in his life was about being open to other cultures. He absorbed them, made them part of himself and showed how it is possible to enrich oneself and to be accepted for whatever you are, whoever you are, no matter where you come from.”

Also at the launch was Daryll W Bullock, author of the book David Bowie Made Me Gay. Attending the festival for a Q&A tonight (Jan 8) at the 5 Lamps Brewery on Camden Street and a recording of the podcast Culture Vultures the following evening (Jan 9) in The Workman’s Club, he told Travel Ireland why he thinks Bowie has remained an icon.

“Bowie gave creative people the excuse to be different and not to feel ashamed or scared to do that. He opened up a new technicolour world in an awful time in Britain when we had strikes and mass unemployment. Suddenly, there was the possibility that you could do anything you wanted. He was a catalyst.”

Holy Holy

Other special guests at Dublin Bowie Festival include drummer Woody Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti who both worked on Bowie’s 1970 masterpiece. The two will be performing with their six-piece band Holy Holy at the Olympia on January 11 together with Heaven 17 main man Glenn Gregory on vocals. The group will cover the Man Who Sold the World and Ziggy Stardust records in their entirety as well as a selection of 70’s Bowie rock and roll classics.

To see Travel Ireland’s more comprehensive guide to the Dublin Bowie Festival visit here. Meanwhile for more information about the event, check out www.dublinbowiefestival.ie.

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