Amy, Beyond the Stage: A Real Tearjerker of an Exhibition

If you think you’ve learnt all there is to know about Amy via the countless documentaries, interviews and photo books published on her then think again. 

From now until April 10 2022, The Design Museum hosts this intimate exhibition on the iconic London jazz singer which, rather than focus on her tragic death a decade ago, celebrates Winehouse’s frank joie de vivre, youth and ambition. 

The exhibition consists of photographs of WInehouse in her first flat alongside most of her iconic outfits imported from the museum they’re held at in Santiago, Chile. Her famous beehive wig sits alongside extracts from her notebook written aged 6. A list of her ambitions reads “make a song with Missy Elliot”, “avoid surgery”, “fuck Huey” and “have Marilyn Hair”. It is nothing less than enchanting to see the then teenage singer’s dreams manifest into reality from her love of jazz and hip hop to her raw authentic self, witty humour and vintage rockabilly style. 

The exhibition is unique in that it humanises Winehouse who, since her death, has become a God-like iconic figure – not unlike Marilyn Monroe herself. Instead, this exhibition sees notes a 19 year old Winehouse wrote to herself, raw yet relatable reminders to “not eat dairy or carbs today” to child-like lyric ideas about waitresses who roller skate and serve waffles accompanied by imaginative illustrations. Amy, Beyond the Stage reminds us that while, yes, a musical genius and enormous talent, Amy really just was a normal girl from London. 

It is these extraits and this intimate and relatable portrayal that make up the singer’s appeal however. Her rawness and her authenticity make the songs pull harder on the heartstrings and we are reminded that we aren’t the only ones who feel this way. The exhibition cleverly follows the career of Amy’s idols and influences (namely Sarah Vaughn, Thelonous Monk and King Pleasure) to acknowledge how much Amy was an influencer and idol to other musical icons of today like Adele. 

Tickets are available now for £15 and the exhibition ends in April. 

Get your tickets designmuseum.org

Images by Design Museum, 2021

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