This exhibition about Pink Floyd was held at the V&A Museum in Kensington during the summer of 2017 which was extended into mid-October. I needed to book a couple of weeks in advance to get a ticket! I only took a couple of photographs. Here are some impressions.
An old red telephone kiosk contains a number of contemporary artifacts such as books by Laurie Lee, John Betjemen, Aldous Huxley, R.D.Laing, Rupert Bear … there are a few of these kiosks in the exhibition for different periods.
A photograph of the band’s Bedford van from the early 60’s; it was black but customised by a white stripe
John Peel suggests they could have sat in an audience at one of their own concerts and gone unrecognised; “quite an achievement…”
Some of their initial spacey music a little eerie; rock riffs quite straightforward! Psychedelic projections …
Pushy people in the exhibition … am not really so interested in the narrative rather the artwork both visible and audible!
Audrey Beardsley, 19’th century author and illustrator, an influence. Had a major show at the V&A in 1966 that was much visited by the Underground scene.
LSD was legal in the 1960’s
Howling Wolf an influence among other blues musicians of that ilk …
Recording first album in studio next door to studio where the Beatles were working on Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. More underground with “interstellar overdrive”. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
Light shows important
Obvious influence of Surrealism! There is a black and white movie of the band on a beach in West Sussex with a mannequin playing around with the song Arnold Layne as the soundtrack as well as Magritte references.
The demise of Syd Barrett, regarded as the creative genius behind the birth of Pink Floyd.
A Saucerful of Secrets and Set the Controls for the heart of the Sun. Ummagumma; the first album I remember! Grantchester Meadows an acoustic guitar duo; also Astronomy Domine. The album cover photograph is a clever composition worth an extended gaze!
Pink Floyd embraced many aspects of culture
Live at Pompeii, a film and performance without audience; Floyd were reticent.
Another telephone kiosk of context; Transcedental Meditation, Dad’s Army,?Enoch Powell … Man on the Moon.
Black and white high contrast photographs of the band.
Dark Side of the Moon a unique album; humanitarian empathy. Still sells thousands every week!
Constructed video of prism and ray of coloured light to watch as the album plays.
A room full of instruments and equipment also images with videos and accompanying music along with a chance to alter the sound effects.
Hokusai’s wave on the drum kit
Videos of individual musicians with their instruments such as the latest synthesis er
Animations and much more post-modernist artwork such as flying sheep and inflatable pigs!
Rock and Roll theatre – the Animals tour
After awhile I stop taking notes as three hours is not going to be long enough but I still see most of the artwork and photography on show as well as the videos.
There is a bittersweet quality that leaves me contemplating the vacuous nature of fame and fortune yet in many ways the exhibition is itself a performance, another way the band are able to communicate with an audience. The last room is a concert space in which video recordings of them play on the walls and people sit or stand around apparently entranced.
In the shop, I buy a CD of The Wall and a book about the Wall by Gerald Scarfe who devised the animation sequences and much of the artwork. Dark Side of the Moon may have been their best album, dealing as it does with questions about modern day living. Wish you were here is another great album while Grantchester Meadows seen her with a video must be one of their best songs.
As is the way with Pink Floyd, the exhibition was innovative in the use of WiFi headsets that played the sounds from the screen one was closest too. A remarkable exhibition in many ways quite unlike the ones I usually visit where images hang silently from walls.