A bronze, strange, multi-headed statue of David Bowie, billed as the first such testament to the rock icon, was unveiled Sunday in the Bowie-crazy English town where he debuted Ziggy Stardust in 1972. Titled "Earthly Messenger," the installation shows a wry mature Bowie pondering his many earlier, fantastical personae - Ziggy out front, then Goblin King, Aladdin Sane, Lazarus et al in relief - while speakers mounted above play a Bowie song every hour. It sits in the Market Square in Aylesbury, where Bowie first performed as Ziggy at the local Friars, launched two of his albums, and stirs such devotion that residents have launched a petition to rename themselves "Aylesbowie."
The piece was created by sculptor Andrew Sinclair, who used a mask of Bowie's face from "The Man Who Fell to Earth." It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign by local music promoter David Stopps, who - despite a Bowie bust in Zagreb - celebrates it as the first Bowie statue: "People either love it or hate it...That's the definition of art." True, that. Reactions to the work range from "breathtaking" and a "beautiful...compendium of his life" to "hideous...a mess...a travesty...(like) chocolate melted in the sun." Within 48 hours of its unveiling, it also prompted someone to paint "Feed the Homeless First" at Bowie's feet - an act of vandalism dubbed "utterly reprehensible" not for the sentiment but because no public money was used. The turmoil feels apt for a guy who once said he'd re-invented himself so many times "I'm in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman." Also: "I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring."