When you get invited to see a block buster exhibition of a major rock band at your favourite museum in London and where you know the drummer of the band exhibiting – you can only but be in total awe of the whole thing. The Pink Floyd ‘Their Mortal Remains’ exhibition at the V&A lived up to my expectations and although I still seem to be needing to sit down every couple of hours from a self-inflicted head injury I gave myself two weeks ago (hitting myself over my forehead with a 1964 Series 2a Land Rover steering wheel) I thoroughly enjoyed getting out of it – my head that is – inside the exhibition.
Celebrating 50 years since their first record Arnold Layne, and over 200 million record sales later, this exhibition is an immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical journey through Pink Floyd’s extraordinary world. This eclectic mix of music, photography and multi-disciplinary art illustrates their ground-breaking use of special effects, sonic experimentation, powerful imagery and social commentary.
Time slots allow for the audio equipment to be coordinated so that it changes fluidly throughout the rooms with sensors tracking your device, so that you experience almost non-stop music and interviews in your ears whilst your eyes feast on an abundance of memorabilia and inflatable sculptures once stored in Nick Mason’s garage (well that’s what he told me).
Being under 50 years of age (just) I might be too young for having a contemporaneous ear during the heyday of Pink Floyd, I was however, brought up on the earlier side to their music and whilst studying for my music A’ Level, I had a heady mix of Philip Glass, Shostakovitch, the Beetles, Aaron Copeland and Pink Floyd to learn from. During my Fine Art Degree years where Brian Eno, one of my tutors, would allow me to mic up my saxophone to the nearby quarry and create ‘music’. I thought it was all very exciting and innovative – although I knew that Philip Glass and Pink Floyd were at it years before me, I still thought I was breaking new ground, literally.
I return to today where, I did not go forward with my sound engineering commitments of my Fine Art degree, I instead vouched for photography hoping that I would encounter musicians along the way. I did and I do: I assisted a photographer for Rolling Stone magazine in New York, photographed for the BBC Proms in the UK and many of my friends are musicians, however, my photography path took me to theatre, dance and crafts – and more recently, motor sport where I met Nick Mason and his family.
Strangely, I never asked him when I first met him about his early Pink Floyd days and I still never asked today when I met up with him for The Guild of Motoring Writers Committee meeting, where Nick is the President.
The motoring world is a bit like that, racing takes over everything and our day jobs are awash with the rest of the world. Saying that, I know Nick loves his day job as do I, meaning when a motor race meeting happens, it is all-consuming and fabulous. And on that note I suppose I have met so many people who, in the public eye are completely so utterly famous for their profession, that I simply know them for motor racing and always know that their racing days are too precious to distract with the outside and real world.
I haven’t yet talked about the exhibition. I think in order to do it justice, to allow for your age or music upbringing you really have to experience it for yourself as it is utterly sublime, however let me start by saying that there is a lot to take in and for that reason alone you need to give yourself time to let it all sink in.
The early days, the different albums, the days of electronic mixing and the synthesiser, that inflatable pig and the films and sculptures along with a lot of telephone boxes filled with the memorabilia (which Nick tells me came from his garage), but I don’t know in which space as his garage is filled with race cars. Joking aside, the scope of the collection is colossal and for that alone it is worth your entrance fee.
The Dark Side Of the Moon – where the woman sings mesmerising and in ecstasy for ever and an age – that one (The great gig in the sky) allowed me to have a good sit down and close my eyes for a bit. A visual display of the moving prism album cover, showed for those who had not tried to give themselves concussion two weeks prior.
A wonderful interactive mixing desk for Money, was a perfect touch for the visitors to play with the levels of cash register, voice, guitar, sax and bass guitar, providing an insight to their studio life…. well without the lifestyle of the 1970’s……
So I return to this afternoon where I met up with Nick at the Franklin Hotel just opposite the V&A for our Guild of Motoring Writers committee meeting to discuss various issues and despite not asking him about his early days of Pink Floyd which I had started to think I ought to, but knew I wouldn’t be able to today, I can tell you that he and I would both like Turkey and not beef, for our early (November) Guild of Motoring Writers annual Christmas Dinner.
Perhaps then I could ask him….
Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains is on at the V&A until Sunday 15th October. Booking essential.
The Guild of Motoring Writers is always looking for new members to join. Working Photographers, videographers, commentators, bloggers and journalists all welcome to apply.
Hands over eyes © Pink Floyd Music Ltd photo by Storm Thorgerson/Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell 1971 Belsize Park (Courtesy of V&A press office)
Portrait of Lara Platman (left) Nick Mason (right) (photo courtesy of a member of the GOMW)