Black Star – one man’s tribute to Bowie
“Oh, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh, I’ll be free
Ain’t that just like me?”
Lazarus, David Bowie
This is Dave, and he has something that he wants you to see. Before telling you what it is, it’s important to set the scene.
My personal involvement with Dave started around three weeks ago when I attended an AA meeting that he was chairing.
As a person, Dave is enthusiastic, warm, and extremely passionate. Just from listening to him chair the meeting it became clear his main passions include art, life but seemingly above all else, David Bowie.
Now, for those of you unsure of how AA membership works, in a nutshell, it consists of a group of people who meet up each week to assist each other in their common goal of obtaining and maintaining sobriety. This is done (with surprisingly good results), by people coming together and ‘sharing’ their experiences.
The format and etiquette is as follows.
One person ‘shares’ whilst the rest of the room listens, silently.
A share can be about anything, really. It can be a memory of a terrible drunken situation, the pain caused by a person’s drinking career, the gratitude a person feels now they no longer drink or about a situation they are currently dealing with that is testing their resolve.
When a person has said what they wanted to say, the rest of the room thanks them for their share and a new person comes in to begin theirs. No cross-discussion takes place; no advice is given – the room moves on at the end of a share.
If you feel compelled to talk to a person about what they shared, of course you may do so, but at the end of the meeting.
This system works, don’t ask me how or why as I don’t know, but it does and the evidence is there for all to see.
One thing that’s important to keep in mind with the AA, is that, in spite of people’s understandable preconceptions, rather than being full of drunken deadbeats, on the whole, members of the AA are highly-successful people who have overcome their problem. Most members have enjoyed the fruits of sobriety for many years, live full and meaningful lives, and now dedicate time to helping give back to those who are struggling.
Dave is one of these people.
Before I tell you what Dave wants to share with you, I need to ask you a question.
Do you ever catch yourself looking at other people and wondering what their life is like, what makes them tick, what their worries and passions are?
If so, you’d enjoy the AA. Other than the whole alcoholism thing (which, frankly, is a chore), membership sometimes feels like having the power to look into people’s minds.
Imagine going up to someone on your commute to work, and, by tapping them on the shoulder, being able to elicit from them their innermost thoughts, their fears, their desires…
Sometimes, due to the personal nature of what recovering alcoholics share with one another, AA membership can feel like having this power.
Now the reason I tell you all this is because what a person shares, and how a person reacts to other people’s shares, can reveal a lot about their nature. You do really feel like you get to know fellow members.
From Dave’s shares it was abundantly clear that here was a man who, after having experienced dark times through drinking, has found in sobriety an unquenchable zest for life.
His love of being sober and alive and contributing to the world exudes from his whole being. When he talks of his love of art, his love of Bowie, his achievements, you can’t help but feel endeared to him.
That’s what makes it even sadder when you find out that Dave’s health is failing. He is dying from a progressive breathing condition. This is adding a sense of urgency to Dave’s desire to share his work with you.
I got involved in helping Dave share his project through another AA friend of mine who, knowing of his obsession, gave Dave some David Bowie limited edition stamps. He loved them. This act, combined with her friendly, engaging nature saw Dave earmark her as someone to help him out.
My friend, along with her sister went round to his house to take pictures of Dave’s project. In doing so, Dave showed her newspaper clippings of his life. And an interesting one he has led too, owning his own successful salons in Manchester before going into buying and selling antiques.
Shortly after this, I visited Dave’s house too having been asked to help out due to my experience in blog writing.
Visiting Dave’s house was an experience. There is stuff everywhere as a result of his buying and selling. He told us that day he had been out and bought a table football set.
Eventually, we settled down. Dave was a bit short of breath but was good to let us film a quick interview before letting us get some shots of him and his project.
Dave will tell you more about his project but as you may have guessed, his art is a tribute to David Bowie. It’s a sculpture he has called Black Star. We also took pictures of Dave next to it, he rolled up his sleeves to show the David Bowie tattoos and got down his SpongeBob Squarepants guitar, which he told me owns as Bowie’s daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, is a fan of the show.
In conversations Dave has told us that it is important to him for this post to be shared today on David Bowie’s birthday.
So here it is.
I also get the sense that Dave’s own mortality features in his thoughts and his desire for his art to be seen.
So, I’ll leave you with pictures I took of Black Star, Dave talking about Black Star and some pictures of him with it.
NOTE – Dave desperately wants Black Star to go to a loving home. If anybody is interested in owning it, please get in touch either through our social media or by leaving a comment on the blog.
You’ll also have the pleasure of getting to meet Dave.