Remembering Amy: A Family Tribute at the Jewish Museum
Last week, we paid a visit to the latest exhibiton at The Jewish Museum, Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait. We give you the lowdown and walk you through some of our highlights.
Words by Danielle Morgan
Just round the corner from the grafittied mural that adorns the side of The Earl of Camden, a modest collection belonging to the late jazz singer who claimed Camden as her own humble stomping ground, fills a room in the Jewish Museum. The location of the latest exhibition playing host to possessions and photos donated by Amy's family, it is a small museum down a quiet street.
This isn't so much a tribute or a memorial to Amy, more an honest and touching depiction of her childhood years. School uniform, reports and family photos line the walls of this cosy and intimate exhibition that document the years leading up to the overwhelming level of fame she eventually found on a global scale.
What this exhibition succeeds in doing is bringing Amy's life back down to a normal, human level. Away from the media attention of drug and alcohol abuse is a little girl scowling at the camera in a school photo, a name tag sewn into a school jumper, stacks of vinyl from her record collection, all narrated by her brother, Alex; personal and intimate.
Miniature dresses worn by Amy at Glastonbury and in the video for Back to Black also feature, as well as those pink satin pumps; trivial in terms of what she left behind, the music, the memories, but strangely moving. I was fascinated to find the contact sheet for her legendary pin-up tattoo had also been donated to the exhibition by artist Henry Hate. The commentary tells of how the tattoo was inspired by her nan Cynthia, who Amy worshipped, as well as old cuttings from vintage magazines that Amy took with her as inspiration for the tat.
Original photographs from Charles Moriarty's upcoming photograph collection Before Frank also gave the exhibition a personal and intimate insight into Amy's career on the cusp of releasing her debut album, when she could sneak into a hotel lift in New York or tramp the streets of London with a dog in tow and few would bat an eyelid.
What we leave the exhibition with is a feeling of who Amy was underneath it all; take away the addiction, the fame; just a little girl from North London with big ideas about where she wanted to go. I defy anyone to leave this exhibition without a lump in their throat for everything that made Amy who she was, and a nagging sense of everything that might have been.
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait wil run at the Jewish Museum until 24th September 2017.