Revels and Revolution Exhibition @ The V&A Review

When entering into this exhibition you are given a set of headphones to place on your head and then are taken back into a time of revolution into the 1960’s to 1970. Music and sound is played throughout enhancing and guiding your experience. Yet there was no narrator guiding me through. The visual aids and music would help me take me into the groove of the 60’s.

A time when the world was about to experience the first man being, sent, to the moon who would show the world for the first time on television that there is life beyond this planet earth we humans reside on. The same time when students protested against the Vietnam War and fought for civil black rights. Pictures and posters were hanging from beam to beam.

Women were for the first time introduced to the contraceptive pill and Betty Frieda published her book ‘The Feminine Mistique’. Music and beat poets experimented with creative art in ways that rebelled against the status quo. Tarot cards and new age religion such as paganism contoured the lines of America and Britain. Psychedelic drugs and art brought this generation of hippies to Woodstock Festival where they would experience Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin live on stage.

It was an exciting time that me the spectator at this exhibition would be influenced into. Pictures, displays of art and books such as Howl by Allen Ginsberg brought me to my very vintage soul. Twiggy and the mod generation were placed on a stage that showed the fashion of the 1960’s ‘A- line’ dresses and the very short mini skirt that was designed by Mary Quant. And Vidal Sassoon’s new short pixie hairstyles gave women a new, found freedom that would challenge the conservative styles of the previous generation.

Who wouldn’t want to follow in the footsteps of these new age of rebels and what a colourful generation to aspire too, this exhibition gave its viewers the foundation of this movement. It also gave you a glimpse of how dark things were with the world. There was panic and fear around the soviet cold war. British politician John Prufomo had a scandalous affair with model Christine Keeler in 1961 that would lead to his resignation. It was said that her affair in the cold war was a threat to national security. This affair was the best seller in sex scandals as 100,000 sales boomed. It showed that new writers and journalists boomed in satirical writing. Her racy nude picture was displaced.

“No matter how many raids and arrests the police make…there can be no final bust because the revolution has taken place WITHIN THE MINDS of the young.”(Tom McGrath, editor of International Times, 1967)

Quotes like this from various sources are placed all over the exhibition and it helps to get you the spectator to the minds of the time. Music played throughout created this vibe of excitement as this generation moved people away from violence and war. One dummy dressed as a soldier, wearing a green army outfit holding a gun brought home how scary and powerful these men holding guns were. The imagery presented here had me feeling emotional and angry and wanting to protest against this crime of humanity.

And what made me connect to this exhibition whole -heartedly was the students of this time. Thinking about myself as student now and looking then. How brave and courageous were these protestors. They expressed emotions of love and anger. It made me appreciate how hard this generation worked to place in freedom for the future generations. After leaving this exhibition I felt a sense of grief for the people who died fighting causes of liberation and humanity. John Lennon and Yoko Ono both symbolised everything that they believed in and John Lennon was murdered after this peaceful time of protesting in bed. He was a part of the ‘Beatles’, the biggest band in the world.

Costumes and music were displayed. Albums such as the ‘rolling stones’ were placed so you can pick them up and touch them. Making this part of the exhibition interactive. Towards the end of the exhibition advertisements of products are placed all over the walls to show how marketing progressed at this time. It showed the very first computer that would speed humans into the digital age. And this showed how conflicted this time was.

The world soon would be consumed by advertising against the artistic expression of love and psychedelic drugs and music that this generation felt of peace and love.

Sadly this exhibition only lasts for a couple of hours. It is definitely a couple of hours that won’t be wasted. And you don’t need to be an academic genius to enjoy this event. However I do think it lacks video footage. If they had made a cinematic space available to watch video footage of this time. I think it would have added the right amount of spice that is needed to give this exhibition its kicks. Nevertheless it is a place to go to and spark your vintage soul.

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