Wednesday, 13 January 2016

moss garden, mustique garden, and a moment between garden walls

David Bowie is dead, alas. Fortuitously I own a pair of black lightning-bolt earrings, and probably a t-shirt with a black star on it somewhere (if I ever get out of the usual January uniform of workjacket by day/pyjamas by night) so my mourning is sorted, bar the long cold feeling that the world has become a little less extraordinary and beautiful by his departure.

I remembered a track my mind insisted was called Japanese Garden; it is of course Moss Garden, one of the instrumentals from Heroes. Made jointly with Brian Eno, Bowie attempting to evoke the moss temple of Kyoto/destroy everything and Eno taking steps to "change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency".

It's a beautiful garden, constructed of careful synthesised sounds and Bowie's uncertain koto.



While looking for it online, I also discovered that Bowie, in the heady high days of the 90s and his global millionairedom, owned a Spectacular Garden on the Island of Mustique (this slideshow selected both for the good views of the garden rooms, and of Bowie in a sarong). Built around a vast Koi Pond by pot-fuelled Bali garden commandos the garden is lavish, tropical, exotic... and all gone now - ripped out by the next millionaire to come along. Sic transit hortum.

The Berlin Years held gardens of a different nature. Grunewald Forest turns up in tales of the Thin White Duke*, a handsome public woodland overtopped by an artificial mountain made of rubble topped by a vast, ruined Cold War Listening Post. And then there is of course this garden:

Otto Mueller's Lovers Between Garden Walls is a highly respected painting whose fame on the internet returns again and again to the fact that David Bowie once spent ten minutes looking at it around the time that he wrote Heroes. Maybe it was the yellow tree, or the passionate angle of the woman's leg that entranced him so, or the sense of glimpsed emotion, both protected and hemmed in by high bright walls.

* ... in the Grunewald, the deep and dark urban forest that hugs the city’s western fringe, we ate and drank too much and ... at the urinals ... sang Buddy Holly songs together

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