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David Bowie named Britain’s most influential artist of the last 50 years

A unique portrait of Bowie made from more than 8,500 plectrums has been commissioned to mark the occasion

By Nick Reilly

David Bowie performs live
David Bowie performs at Glastonbury Festival in 2000.

David Bowie has been named as Britain’s most influential artist of the last 50 years, with a new poll hailing his ability to become a major influence across music, film and fashion.

The music icon topped a new Sky Arts poll of 50 influential artists, pipping 12 Years A Slave Oscar-winning director Sir Steve McQueen and It’s A Sin scribe Russell T Davies.

Other influential musicians included Stormzy, Elton John, the Spice Girls and Boy George – as well as Steve Coogan and Michaela Coel.

The list also included Skin – the lead singer of rockers Skunk Anansie – who became Glastonbury’s first ever black headliner back in 1999.

Leading comedians in the list included the late Dinnerladies legend Victoria Wood and Ricky Gervais.

Broadcaster and DJ Lauren Laverne, who led the judging panel, said: “I was honoured to be chosen to take part in this judging day for Sky Arts, as working with such a respected group of judges, I knew their conversations would be fascinating, and they were.

“The judges took so much time and care with their scoring to ensure the Top 50, Top 20 and Top 10 lists were truly the best of the best in terms of influence, and the final list are artists that are so deserving of their places.

“David Bowie coming in at number one was the cherry on top of a brilliant judging process, and it was great to be a part of it.”

Bowie’s victory will be celebrated with a unique portrait made from more than 8,500 plectrums – each of which features a cut-out shape to symbolise all of Bowie’s vast cultural influences.

Artist Joe Black, who created the two-metre-tall piece, said: “This portrait was created to celebrate David Bowie being named the most influential artist of the last 50 years.

“His visual representation had a huge impact across all of the arts worldwide.The idea was to use thousands of specially designed plectrums, with each design representing one of the five artistic areas of Bowie’s creative life and influences – music, film, fashion, literature and art.

“Bowie was a maverick and a global icon who initiated a new Bowie era in popular culture.”