The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (13 May – 1 October 2017), is the first international retrospective of one of the world’s most iconic and influential bands.
Presented by the V&A and Pink Floyd, and promoted by Michael Cohl and Iconic Entertainment Studios, the exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the band’s first album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, and debut single, Arnold Layne. The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains is an immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical journey through Pink Floyd’s extraordinary world. A story of sound, design and performance, the exhibition will chronicle the music, iconic visuals and staging of the band, from the underground psychedelic scene in 1960s London to the present day, illustrating their groundbreaking use of special effects, sonic experimentation, powerful imagery and social commentary.
The Pink Floyd Exhibition offers a rare glimpse of the band’s working methods, and plots their transition from a psychedelic pop group in the 1960s to the multi-platinum-selling albums band in the ‘70s,‘80s and beyond.
The exhibition draws together many unique artefacts illustrating Pink Floyd’s relationship with music, art, design, technology and performance from every stage of their career and personal lives. Among the earliest exhibits is the punishment book and cane from the Cambridge And County High School For Boys, where Pink Floyd’s original guitarist and vocalist Syd Barrett and bass guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Roger Waters were pupils in the late 1950s.
Waters studied architecture at London’s Regent Street Polytechnic in the early ‘60s, alongside fellow co-founders, drummer Nick Mason and keyboard player/vocalist Richard Wright. Included here are Waters’ and Mason’s technical drawings and sketches, showing how the formal training they received later influenced the group’s creative ideas.
Pink Floyd’s earliest performing days are represented with Syd Barrett’s letter which includes a sketch of their Bedford van, and Nick Mason’s annotated gig diary detailing the future stadium-filling band’s humble beginnings, playing London’s underground music club UFO and touring Britain’s circuit of Top Rank ballrooms and college halls.
The exhibition also offers an in-depth look at the band’s instruments and technology. Several of David Gilmour’s guitars, including his famous Black Strat, are exhibited, alongside Richard Wright’s early ‘70s era Mini Moog synthesiser and a treasure trove of effects pedals, hand-painted drum heads, echo chambers and more.
The flow of the exhibition, in chronological order, is enhanced by music throughout and by the voices of past and present members of Pink Floyd, including David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and the late Richard Wright. This culminates in the Performance Zone, where visitors enter an immersive audio visual space which includes the recreation of the very last performance of all 4 members of the band at Live 8 with Comfortably Numb.
The work of the band’s collaborators will also be explored, with original drawings, sketches, blueprints and photographs for the band’s album artwork, inflatable puppets and stage creations from individuals including illustrator Gerald Scarfe, architect Mark Fisher, engineer Jonathan Park, animator Ian Emes, lighting artist Marc Brickman and the design duo responsible for a number of Pink Floyd’s iconic album covers, Hipgnosis (Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson).
The exhibition takes look at the band’s oeuvre through various lenses: psychedelia; musical, literary and artistic influences; musicology; politics; architecture, and the touring industry. Everyday material from the relevant eras (such as newspapers, books and adverts) will appear throughout the exhibition to put the ideas and themes Pink Floyd were exploring in their music into the social context of the day.