It is one of the most anticipated exhibitions to come to Melbourne this year, and what an absolute privilege it was to step inside the Winehouse world. Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait was curated by Jewish Museum London, and Amy’s brother Alex to show the world that Amy was so much more than just a famous singer.
“This is not a shrine or a memorial to someone who has died. Amy night have been the most famous person in our family, but, as will become clear, she was not the centre of it. None of us are. We are a family with a colourful and eventful past, present and future. This isn’t an attempt to tell people what my sister was like, to what kind of people my grandparents were, or to force my opinion on you. This is a snapshot of a girl who was, to her deepest core, simply a little Jewish kid from North London with a big talent who, more than anything, just wanted to be true to her heritage.” – Alex Winehouse, 2013
Although it was a small exhibition of childhood photos, memorabilia, music, and clothing, it was a heartfelt tribute to their daughter, sister, cousin, and friend. There’s a lot to learn about the Winehouse family but most astonishingly is how much Amy looks like her mother, and how confident she was at such a young age. Around the exhibition space are excerpts taken from Amy’s audition essay for the Sylvia Young Theatre School in 1997.
“I’ve been told I was gifted with a lovely voice and I guess my dad’s to blame for that. Although unlike my dad, and his background and ancestors, I want to do something with these talents I’ve been ‘blessed’ with.” – Amy Winehouse, 1997
Amy was just a regular girl who had very good taste in music and drew a lot of inspiration from the 1960s. She was such a proud Londoner too, exploring the city and seeking adventure in her own way.
“The city is really important to me. Ive always been a really independent girl. From the age of 3 or so I’ve always found my own way in the city and there’s nothing I like more than to find another part that I didn’t already know.” – Amy Winehouse, 2004
As you walk around, you’ll hear a soundtrack inspired by Amy’s favourite songs, of which remained very much the same as the years went on. She was an old soul who appreciated the classics. The most poignant song of the playlist is Carole King’s ‘So Far Away’ which was also a family favourite, and played at Amy’s funeral.
The only thing I’d have to say that kind of annoyed me about the exhibition was the final area where a video is projected of Amy singing ‘Back To Black’. It was on repeat. Why couldn’t they have created a film of her various performances over the years instead of repeating the same one? It seems like a missed opportunity to not have done so.
“I want to be remembered for being an actress, a singer, for sell-ot concerts and sell-out West End and Broadway shows. For just being… me.” – Amy Winehouse, 1997
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait is on at the Jewish Museum of Australia until March 25th, 2018. Select Thursday nights will have live music as a tribute to Amy. For tickets and more info, head here.
Not long after Amy’s death, her dad set up a charity in her memory, to carry on the good work she did that went untold, and to help with the family’s wounds heal. To donate to The Amy Winehouse Foundation, head here.
The reviewer attended the exhibition on Sunday 26th November.