Build a 'Blackstar Garden' (David Bowie) at Macleay Reserve, Elizabeth Bay, Sydney

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CONCEPT: 

1. To create a dedication to David Bowie's legacy - outside the place he lived (and owned property) for a period of about 10 years.

2. To create a signal for the ONCE IN A THOUSAND YEARS astronomical event – the Total Solar Eclipse of Central Sydney which occurs in July 2028.

3. To draw these aspects together. 

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BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE:

Astronomy and architecture have been closely connected for thousands of years.

Since David Bowie's passing on January 10, 2016, several gardens have been created around the world in the form of a BLACK STAR - the emblem and centrepiece of Bowie's final album.

None of these gardens, however, are public access and thus the location of this garden – at Macleay Reserve in Sydney – presents a different and better opportunity for 3 MAIN REASONS....

Firstly, we have an area of PUBLIC LAND. Previous Blackstar gardens have only been on private property and created with the private funds of dedicated Bowie fans. 

Secondly, the land has a direct David Bowie connection. It  is located at the entrance to Bowie's apartment complex (a gated facility) where he lived for a period of about 10 years.  Bowie explained in 2004: "It was a great place and I used to love being there. I was there a lot more than you'd imagine."

Thirdly, the timing is right because of the coming astronomical event which will be signalled in the design itself....

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CONCEPT AND DESIGN:

The idea is essentially to build upon David Bowie's concept of a 'Black Star' - an emblem and idea that Bowie formed for his final masterpiece album (released in 2016).

Like Bowie's best work, the Blackstar concept is multilayered.

One theme is that of a STAR (rock star, movie star, etc) that has - or is about to - pass away (David Bowie died TWO days after the album release).

Another theme is in the video for the lead single (also titled Blackstar) as it portrays an astronomical embodiment. In the opening scene, we see a Total Solar Eclipse and then a female figure proceeding in that direction.

The later is very interesting because at any one specific location on Earth, a Total Solar Eclipse is a very rare event. It has happened only once in Sydney's history (back in 1851) and it will not be repeated for another 830 years. 

Although the specifics of the final design will need to be drawn up and funded, the shape of Macleay Reserve could in theory accommodate the form of a BLACK STAR of dramatic size - up to 30 x 30 metres - and have road access from almost every angle.

We also have some further ideas. Please read on! 

GOOGLE STREET VIEW OF MACLEAY RESERVE - 

https://tinyurl.com/y7hm4qvg

THE BLACKSTAR VIDEO - 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kszLwBaC4Sw

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COMPARISON:

The best comparative example would probably be the knoll in Central Park (New York) known as 'Strawberry Fields' - a popular pilgrimage site for John Lennon fans from all around the world.  

The idea of Strawberry Fields originates from March 26, 1981 when New York City Council adopted specific legislation so they could set aside a location in Central Park for the memory of John Lennon. The location is near the Dakota Building where Lennon resided for a period of 7 years. 

THREE years later in 1984, Landscape architect Bruce Kelly was commissioned to expand upon the concept and this led to the IMAGINE memorial - a circular black and white mosaic emblem into the pavement. 

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APART FROM BOWIE LIVING IN SYDNEY AND IT BEING A BIG ASTRONOMY EVENT, WHY SPECIFICALLY DAVID BOWIE?

Well, English rock star David Bowie had an enormous impact on the music, culture and politics of Australia just as English rock star John Lennon had on the United States.

Perhaps only in recent years has Bowie's full impact on Australia been better understood. The videos of some of his biggest hits - 'Let's Dance' and 'China Girl' were filmed in AUS and it is the content of the former that have many cultural experts intrigued. Bowie's decision to feature aboriginal actors as well as make a very strong statement about Australia's indigenous people (as he also did in interview) at this time in 1983 was largely unprecedented for such a world icon figure. 

Shortly after making the videos, Bowie purchased an apartment at 93 Elizabeth Road opposite Macleay Reserve. The harbour city became his part time home in the 1980s and by the end of the decade, he also wrote and recorded an album in the city (with his band Tin Machine).

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THE ECLIPSE OF 2028

On July 22, 2028 at exactly 4:01 PM, the maximum point of a Total Eclipse will be reached over Central Sydney.

The total duration of the full eclipse is expected to be 3m 49s in Sydney which makes it unprecedented at any point in time in at least the LAST TWO MILLENIA. The next total eclipse of the Sun will not occur in Sydney until the year 2858. 

A Blackstar Garden could be partially interpretive and educational of this event. 

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STAGE TWO - A BLACKSTAR WALK OF FAME? 

The Sebel Town House - Sydney's celebrity hotel - was located further along the road in the direction of King's Cross.

Conceptually, stage two could involve a 'Blackstar walk of fame' or perhaps a  dedication of other stars that have either made Sydney their home - or alternatively it could represent more generally the passing of great artists since January 2016. By the end of that year, we lost  so many major figures of entertainment, arts and otherwise. 

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THE LIGHTING AND THE OFFICIAL OPENING:

A further opportunity is the lighting.

Even in normal daylight hours, with THE MOON COMPLETELY BLOCKING THE SUN, it means that there is often enough darkness that street light's are turned on (REF: Melbourne, 1976).

Thus the BLACK STAR garden could theoretically be opened (and publicly lit) at the ACTUAL TIME OF THE ECLIPSE. 

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CONCLUSION

To this day, the reserve outside David Bowie's former home remains a fairly nondescript park. His former home also remains locked away inside a gated complex with no acknowledgement AT ALL.

It is time for Sydney to recognise its connection to the great singer and songwriter -  David Bowie - as well as create something incredibly awesome in time for a ONCE IN MANY GENERATIONS ASTRO EVENT that will have the WHOLE WORLD WATCHING.  


~ Adam Dean, Landscape Architect and Life Long David Bowie Fan, 2018.

WWW.BOWIEDOWNUNDER.COM

 

 

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AN EXISTING BLACKSTAR GARDEN IN CALEMBORG, THE NETHERLANDS

Created by a David Bowie fan on private land...

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