Amy Wine­house

The tragic singer’s life is now an ex­hi­bi­tion

Time Out (Melbourne) - - INSIDE -

WHEN YOU THINK of Amy Wine­house, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A tow­er­ing bee­hive and winged eye­liner; a deep, ex­pres­sive voice lament­ing that ‘Love Is a Los­ing Game’; a pa­parazzi shot of a woman in the grips of ad­dic­tion? Wine­house (1983-2011) burst into pub­lic con­scious­ness with her 2003 al­bum Frank, and cap­ti­vated the world with her soul­ful voice, raw and deeply per­sonal lyrics and, towards the end of her life, her strug­gles with drugs and al­co­hol. But there’s an­other story to Amy; a story that the Wine­house fam­ily is ea­ger to tell the world. Amy Wine­house: A Fam­ily Por­trait is a col­lab­o­ra­tion between the Jewish Mu­seum in Lon­don and Amy’s brother Alex and her sis­ter-in­law, Riva. The ex­hi­bi­tion that ex­plores Amy’s early fam­ily life, her hunger to cre­ate mu­sic, and her on­go­ing con­nec­tion to her Jewish roots. “Gen­er­ally, the ex­hi­bi­tion is show­ing an un­told story of Amy,” says Juli­ette Han­son, the cu­ra­tor re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion to Mel­bourne. “Ev­ery­body, par­tic­u­larly towards the end of her life, saw this neg­a­tive pic­ture of her… so the fam­ily wanted to show this ab­so­lute other side to her per­son­al­ity and her val­ues.” The ma­jor­ity of ob­jects in the ex­hi­bi­tion are do­nated by the Wine­house fam­ily, a sec­u­lar Jewish fam­ily whose ancestors im­mi­grated to Lon­don from Be­larus in 1890. Lit­tle has been writ­ten about Amy’s Jewish iden­tity, and yet, it played a big role in her life. She was of­ten pho­tographed wear­ing a gold Star of David pen­dant around her neck, and her fam­ily cel­e­brated tra­di­tional Fri­day din­ners. In an in­ter­view, she said that “be­ing Jewish to me is about be­ing to­gether as a real fam­ily”. Pho­to­graphs of Amy’s early life re­veal this side to the singer; one shows nine-year-old Amy cel­e­brat­ing her brother’s bar mitz­vah. There’s also a Jewish cook­ery book given to Amy by her brother be­cause she wanted to learn how to make chicken soup (which she’s ru­moured to

have cooked for her body­guards). Other ob­jects – in­clud­ing her cloth­ing, records and books – are ar­ranged within the themes of Lon­don, mu­sic, fash­ion, fame, and legacy. Han­son was struck by Amy’s pure pas­sion for mu­sic. “Mu­sic was her ab­so­lute life and soul. She wasn’t about try­ing to be a celebrity, and in fact, she re­ally dis­liked that side of things; it was the pres­sure of that, that pos­si­bly led to her dif­fi­cul­ties in the end. [The ex­hi­bi­tion] shows how young she was when she first de­cided she was go­ing to make mu­sic her en­tire life. The tal­ent she de­vel­oped is a tes­ta­ment to that, which makes the whole thing a lot more tragic.” ■ Rose John­stone à 26 Alma Rd, St Kilda 3182. 03 8534 3600. www.jew­ish­mu­ au. Tue-thu 10am-4pm; Fri 10am-3pm; Sun 10am-5pm. $0-$12. Oct 22-Mar 25.

Pho­tog­ra­pher un­known

A young Amy out­side her Nan’s flat in South­gate.

In­stal­la­tion shot: Records and gui­tar

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