kylie.jpgI went to the Lady Museum on Monday. Sorry, the V&A. My parents referred to it as the Lady Museum when, as a child, a trip to South Kensington would inevitably split between me and my Dad heading to the Science Museum and Mum and sister to the V&A. So whilst I have spent quite a lot of time in their archives (Theatre Museum archives, which is all part of the V&A) it had been over twenty years since I had been in the Victoria And Albert Fashion and Design museum. Ostensibly there to see the surrealism exhibit for free (YAY – Cheers Sarah), the fact that the rest was cordoned of made me itch to go back. Skirting the edge of the Cast Courts in an nearly empty museum was really inspiring. I went right home to try and find if I still had my Paddington Bear plaster cast set.

I’ll talk about the surrealism elsewhere, suffice to say that much of what I thought was a low point in art was salvaged when I discovered that it was only really Salvidor Dali that I really didn’t like. The decorative arts and fashion aspects of the exhibit (and of course a terrific shop) really broadened the scope of what I had previous thought was: “oh look, droopy clock”*.

So we retired for a glass of wine and discussion, with only the slight strains of Kylie coming down the stairs. Because Surreal Things was buried deep in the museum, whilst Kylie: The Exhibition was right by the front door. So before we left, we decided to see Kylie.

There has been a little bit of controversy about this exhibit, that it sullied or devalued the august V&A. That is bobbins of course, it is a comprehensively curated stack of Kylie ephemera which would make a good Kylie museum. Do we need a Kylie museum? No more than we need a museum to anything else, but what you do get is a journey through the pop of the last twenty years, British pop at that, via the slice of one act. What is probably most important for the V&A is the fashion content: which takes us from Charlene’s dungarees up to recent Showgirl outfits. But what was much more interesting for me was the time-line of Kylie single and album covers, the videos being projected (good and bad) and the logistical aspects of touring. Kylie’s image has always been at the centre of her appeal, and watching the image morph in front of you via the promotional material also says a lot about the pop world she has inhabited. It is a terrific little exhibit (free too) which makes you realise:
silvanemesus.jpga) the image aspects of the pop business
b) how good most of the the songs still are
c) Scripts for tours and music videos are truly bonkers
d) how tiny she is. Cos she is. Tiny.

If there was good museum of pop, or a pop hall of fame, it should be done like this. The only thing missing was an external voice, this exhibit was directed by the Minogue family and whilst there are plenty of positive contributions for Kylie herself, it would have been nice to see Smash Hits, NME and other reviews and external commentary. Just as balance. It does come off as a bit sugary sweet, as Kylie is probably the only person in the UK (and Australia) approaching that (Impossible) Princess Di level of popularity. Which in itself justifies its presence in a national museum, but beyond public service it is also just two rooms of fun!

*I don’t know why I am constantly rude about fourteen year old boys, but if anyone likes Dali, its the fourteenies.