The family of the late Amy Winehouse have given their permission to make public a series of personal family photographs of the talented singer. Amy, who was just 27 when she passed away in July 2011, was one of the UK’S most gifted and original artists. During her later years in the public spotlight, many unflattering photographs were published of her, and her then time lover – Blake Felder-Civil, often with the pair covered in bruises and blood and looking disheveled and unhappy.
Thankfully, the family of the beloved singer, who wrote and sang such heart-breakingly beautiful songs as Back to Black and You Know I’m No Good, have agreed to allow London Jewish Museum unprecedented access to the Winehouse archives.
The collection of family photographs will show Amy in her younger days, when she yearned to become a ballerina, and will also show her as a pretty five year old, in fancy dress as Minnie Mouse.
Alongside the photographs, the family have also agreed to show some of Amy’s most prized possessions, and fans of the singer will be able to view Amy’s first guitar, the extensive record collection she had accumulated and her uniform from the Sylvia Young Theatre School.
All the exhibits for the exhibition have been put together with the assistance of Amy’s brother Alex and his wife, Riva, and as this year it would have been Amy’s 30th birthday, it will be of particular significance.
The photographs will include Amy in her childhood and her teenage years, with members of her family that were a strong influence on her musical career, such as her grandmother Cynthia, who introducing her to the jazz style that was so prominent in her musical career.
Amy’s brother Alex said that one of the reasons the Winehouse family agreed to exhibit the family photographs of Amy was so that people could see the real side of the singer, rather than the character the media portrayed her as in the press.
He said of the exhibition: “Amy was someone who was incredibly proud of her Jewish-London roots. Whereas other families would go to the seaside on a sunny day, we’d always go down to the East End. That was who we were and what we were. We weren’t religious, but we were traditional. I hope, in this most fitting of places, that the world gets to see this other side not just to Amy, but to our typical Jewish family.”
And Abigail Morris, who is the director of the Jewish Museum, said: “Amy Winehouse was an immensely talented, iconic and inspirational singer and she was a Jewish girl from north London. It is fitting that the Jewish Museum in her beloved Camden Town should be the place to tell her story in the year that she would have celebrated her 30th birthday.”
Amy was discovered dead in her Camden flat on July 23 in 2011, and according to her hair dresser friend Alex Foden, who helped her to create her distinctive beehive hairstyle, she had a premonition that she would be joining the likes of Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin in the infamous ’27 Club. He told Chloe Govan, in her new book about Amy called Amy Winehouse: The Untold Story, that: “Amy always told me that she thought she’d die young and that she knew she’d be a member of the 27 Club. I think she almost needed to die a legend. It is heartbreaking she appears to have gone through with her plans. Amy knew her limits – I truly believe she knew this final binge might kill her.”
Where: The Jewish Museum London, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert Street, London NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384
When: July 3 – September 15
How much: £7.50