Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait
Jewish Museum London | 16th March – 24 September 2017
I fell in love with Amy Winehouse at a young age, in my early teens my Mum introduced me to her first album, Frank. And when Back To Black came out my best friend bought me the CD and I played it over and over.
I was already a big fan of Motown and Blues, so when Amy came on the scene with her soulful voice, contemporary lyrics and sass I felt a connection to her songs. It was everything I loved but modern day.
We all know the tragic details of her death at 27. But this exhibition, co-curated by Amy’s brother Alex and sister-in-law Riva, tells the story less know; of Amy, the daughter, sister and friend.
Amy was extremely close to her family, with a strong sense of her Jewish heritage, an important aspect of her life so often overlooked.
The exhibition explores her family’s ancestry, starting with Amy’s great-great-grandfather Harris Wienhaus arriving in London from Belarus aged just 28 in 1891, his wife and children waiting to follow him in the hopes of a new life in the East End.
Special homage is paid to Cynthia Winehouse, Amy’s beloved Grandmother, with beautiful black and white photographs showing her in the 1940’s. The resemblance is striking, and Amy famously had Cynthia’s likeness tattooed on her arm.
Throughout the exhibition family photographs are displayed alongside personal possessions. From Amy’s school uniform to the essay that got her into the Sylvia Young Theatre School, all the objects are accompanied by labels written by family members or friends, giving personal insights into the story behind the object.
Also on display are selections of her vinyl and cd’s as well as her favourite guitar, Cherry. The exhibition portrays Amy’s sentimental side, with mix tapes and fridge magnets alongside dressed and high heels worn during iconic performances.
I loved the simple approach to this exhibition, the objects selected tell a humble story of a girl who dreamed of being on the stage. Whilst the narrative surrounding her death is now infamous, the exhibition focuses on Amy as she was know to her loved ones, and the impact her heritage had on shaping her.
Wether you are a fan or just intrigued to find out more about the icon, this exhibition is well worth a visit.
Written by Jasmine Farram