A personal and intimate exhibition which explores British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse’s inner world, the Jewish Museum of Australia presents Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait – currently on display until 25 March 2018.
Exclusive to the St Kilda-based museum, and curated by the Jewish Museum London with help from her brother Alex and sister-in-law Riva, the Winehouse family gave the Jewish Museum of London unprecedented access to Amy’s belongings, including her guitar, record collection and iconic outfits to bring the exhibition together. Following its launch in London in 2013, the exhibition has toured internationally with great success in San Francisco, Vienna, Tel Aviv and Amsterdam.
“This isn’t an attempt to tell people what my sister was like, or what kind of people my grandparents were, or to force my opinions on you,” says Alex Winehouse (extract from Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait). “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 worked with the exhibition curator to develop the content of the exhibition which focuses on Amy’s Jewish roots, family life, adolescence and her early career. Alex’s specially written captions are warm, affectionate and revealing, making the exhibition truly unique. This text is juxtaposed with extracts from an essay Amy wrote at the age of 14 during her audition at the Sylvia Young Theatre School.
Winehouse rose to international success in the 2000s and she was called “the pre-eminent vocal talent of her generation,” by the BBC. Known for her voice and eclectic mix of jazz, pop, soul, and R&B, she won five Grammy Awards and had numerous hit songs including Rehab, Back to Black, and Valerie.
Winehouse died tragically at the age of 27 in 2011. Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait honors her memory and accomplishments, as well as providing a personal portrait of her family life and Jewish heritage, which were not always visible in her public life.
The exhibition explores Winehouse’s inner world, and the influences that shaped her career and personal life. As well as being a celebration of the artist, the exhibition is also a reflection of a second-generation Jewish immigrant experience – her family immigrated from Belarus in the late nineteenth century, and she grew up in a secular and assimilated Jewish environment in the heart of London.
“The Jewish Museum is perhaps an unexpected venue for an exhibition about Amy Winehouse,” says Jewish Museum of Australia Director Rebecca Forgasz. “But Amy’s brother, Alex, was adamant that this was the best place to tell her story, because being Jewish was so much a part of who she was.”
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to introduce and share Jewish culture with a new and wider audience, as well as celebrate the life of such an extraordinary musician and artist.”
The Jewish Museum of Australia will present a substantial music program alongside the exhibition including dedicated performances celebrating the singer’s legacy at Melbourne Music Week, a tribute show at St Kilda Festival and a series of Thursday late-night events at the museum with performances by local artists covering Amy’s varied musical genres – jazz, soul, gospel, motown and hip hop.
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait
Jewish Museum of Australia, 26 Alma Road, St Kilda
Exhibition continues to 25 March 2018 (closed Monday & Saturday)
Admission fees apply
For more information, visit: www.jewishmuseum.com.au for details.
Image: Amy Winehouse – photo by Mark Okoh