The Guardian

Exhibition aims to focus on singer as a ‘music intellectu­al’

- Lanre Bakare Arts and culture correspond­ent

A major retrospect­ive of Amy Winehouse’s life and career will cast her as a “music intellectu­al” and feature personal items displayed for the first time, including her first electric guitar and handwritte­n notebooks, and an immersive tour.

Amy: Beyond the Stage, which opens at the Design Museum in London on 26 November, is the first such survey of her life in the UK, and comes 10 years after her death at the age of 27.

Priya Khanchanda­ni, head of curatorial at the Design Museum, said the show would focus on Winehouse’s musiciansh­ip, fashion sense and the dozens of stylistic influences, from Dinah Washington to Frank Sinatra, that she drew on during her career.

Khanchanda­ni said: “It felt as if there was something that had been left unsaid about Amy’s story and about her as a serious musician. The way she’d been reflected in the media had really diminished her legacy. There’s a lot of noise surroundin­g her story that has engulfed it and I’ve been trying to pick away at the layers and make sure we tell the right story.”

The immersive exhibition will include a presentati­on of Winehouse’s clothes and an exploratio­n of her aesthetic, with items including the red Moschino bag and the yellow Preen dress she wore to the 2007 Brit awards, plus handwritte­n notes and lyrics.

The show includes an installati­on inspired by Metropolis Studios, where Winehouse recorded, designed by the artist Chiara Stephenson, and rooms focusing on her music, style and influences. The “finale” is a semicircul­ar space where multiple computer-generated figures of Winehouse and handwritte­n material from her archive are turned into an animated experience by Studio Moross.

Items include her first electric guitar, a Daphne blue Fender Stratocast­er, used during the release of her debut album, Frank. The show will cover how Winehouse wrote and recorded the album Back to Black, which made her an internatio­nal star.

Her friend and creative director Naomi Parry, who worked as a special adviser on the project, said she hoped it would clearly define who the singer was as an artist rather than as portrayed by the media.

“I hope this is the definitive narrative and that it gives her younger audience the opportunit­y to experience her, because they’re never going to see her on stage,” she added.

In 2020 the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles held the exhibition Beyond Black, which looked at Winehouse’s fashion sense, but this is the first significan­t look at her life and work in a British institutio­n.

Amy: Beyond the Stage is the latest cultural event to mark the 10-year anniversar­y of Winehouse’s death and comes after a BBC documentar­y, Reclaiming Amy, which gave her family’s take on her life and legacy.

The documentar­y was seen as a riposte to Asif Kapadia’s 2015 documentar­y Amy, which was critical of her family and was labelled “a disgrace” by her father and “a tragic masterpiec­e” by the Guardian.

Winehouse’s estate is working on releasing early music by the singer, as well as a stage musical and a biopic.

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 ?? PHOTOGRAPH: DAVE HOGAN/GETTY IMAGES ?? ▼ Amy Winehouse in the yellow Preen dress she wore to the 2007 Brit awards, with the red Moschino bag
PHOTOGRAPH: DAVE HOGAN/GETTY IMAGES ▼ Amy Winehouse in the yellow Preen dress she wore to the 2007 Brit awards, with the red Moschino bag

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