Meet the curator - Juliette Hanson tells us about 'Amy'

September 15, 2017

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait, was curated in close collaboration with the Winehouse family. Do you think this creates a sense of intimacy?

Yes definitely! The Winehouse family’s involvement has meant that the exhibition includes lots of family photos that show events and moments in Amy’s life that are very intimate and personal. Many of the objects in the exhibition are accompanied by text written by Amy’s brother, which is also quite revealing about Amy’s family life, her private interests and personality traits.


Amy’s family arrived in London from Minsk in 1890. How do you think this exhibition and story of Jewish migration will translate to a Melbourne audience? How do you think the exhibition sits in the Melbourne Jewish landscape?

Melbourne has quite a significant Russian-Jewish community, who have all emigrated here over the last 100 years, and it was actually common for families to come from Russia via the UK at that time. The experience of migration is something that many Jewish families can relate to. The Amy Winehouse exhibition will be accompanied by an exhibition in the Krongold Family gallery about the history of Russian-Jewish migration, both across Europe and to Australia, with a focus on the time that Amy’s family made their journey to London.


What might audiences find surprising about this exhibition?

I think Amy’s connection to her Jewish heritage is something that people don’t know a lot about. So, the photos of her with her family at traditional Jewish events, and her interest in Jewish recipes may be surprising. Also the eclectic nature of her personal possessions, including the high-brow books she read along with sentimental items from her childhood, including her school jumper.


What were the challenges involved in bringing the exhibition from London?

The exhibition has been re-designed to fit our rather unusual U-shaped exhibition space, which has been undertaken in consultation with the Jewish Museum London. Only Amy’s belongings are being sent from London, so everything else has been recreated here. The main challenge has therefore been to source very similar exhibition furniture, frames, paint colours and cabinets to stay as close as possible to the original design.


This exhibition is a celebration of Amy’s life and achievements. Are there any objects or stories within the exhibition that stand out to you as representing Amy the music icon? 

Amy’s favourite and oldest guitar is a stand out item as it represents her very early passion and dedication to music. Her Grammy award is another special piece, as well as the Luella Bartley dress that she wore during a performance at Glastonbury.


And what about Amy the Jewish girl from London?

Amy’s Claudia Roden cook-book titled The Book of Jewish Food that was a birthday gift from her brother because she wanted to learn how to cook chicken soup.