Life has never been the same since the late 1960’s. At least that is what those who were old enough to party but too young to have families at the time will tell you. Those of us who were too young have been told that Glam Rock, Punk or Two Tone just failed to measure up to what came before. “You say you want a revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-70” sets out to tell us all how wonderful and world changing it was, complete with a surround sound. You are handed a headset at the door, make sure you put them on immediately as the soundtrack starts at the wall of album covers in the corridor.
Once through the doors, Mary Quant and Twiggy, those icons of sixties youth, greet you. Around the corner a space is devoted to Vidal Sassoon, who snipped hair into short futuristic shapes. Should you have a yen to look like the young Twiggy then every other Sunday, until the end of February, a clutch of lucky competition winners will be coiffed in a special pop-up salon in the heart of the exhibition. To enter, post a visual answer to the question “If you could have one revolution, what would it be and why?” to social media using #SassoonSundaySalon.
Keep on going through the twisting labyrinth and you will stumble across a life-size recreation of the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, complete with two of the original outfits. All around are displays exploring the growing voices for equality for a wide range of minorities. Music should be filling your ears, but rather unfortunately the very clever system that delivers the sound track dipped in and out on my visit. When it worked the exhibition was brilliant, when it didn’t everything seemed a little flat.
Music festivals in their big muddy incarnation grew in popularity during the final years of the sixties. At the centre of the exhibition is a fine cube of a room that is used to good effect to show a film of the Woodstock festival. The floor is carpeted with grass and strewn with bean bags. No need for your headphones hear: the music pulsates out from hidden speakers allowing you to kick back and enjoy the music. If you feel so inclined, you can take a look at the Who’s drum kit among other icons on show.
Everything from the Green Movement (no arguments there) to Home Computing (not so sure) are credited as having emerged from the late sixties in the final gallery. John Lennon and Yoko Ono holed up in the Amsterdam Hilton are shown on a film and as you leave Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ slowly merges into the strains of William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ showing that Revolution is not so new after all.
10 September 2016 – 26 February 2017
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7
Open: Daily 10am – 5.45pm, open late on Fridays until 10pm
Admission: Adults £16, concessions and family tickets available.