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Messenger - The Bob Marley Exhibition

Messenger - The Bob Marley Exhibition

Messenger - The Bob Marley Exhibition

By on - Photos by Emma-Louise - 1 comment

Exhibition about Bob Marley in London with photographs and artefacts from the private collection of the Marley family.

The O2 Arena in North Greenwich has hosted many commemorative events this summer dedicated to the island of Jamaica in honour of its 50th anniversary of Independence. With a hugely successful 13 night run of at the IndigO2 featuring the crème de la crème of Jamaican music, a series of shows showcasing the best in Jamaican comedy, the open and inviting nature of ‘Jamaica House’ and ‘Jamaican House Terrace’ along with a Bob Marley exhibition has left the O2 almost like a Jamaican ‘home from home’.

Bob Marley Exhibition

The exhibition ‘Messenger’ is appropriately named for the man who was famed with popularising reggae music and spreading the message of peace, unity and ‘One Love’ throughout the world.

United Reggae were kindly granted full access to the exhibition which is being accommodated in the Mezzanine Gallery at the British Music Experience. It runs between the 24th July and 22nd October and makes its temporary home here during the 2012 Olympics after its success at the GRAMMY museum in Los Angeles.

Upon initial impression it is somewhat minimalistic in design in comparison with the American Exhibit in L.A. It is quite conventional in terms of shape and layout – a rectangular room, white-washed walls and minimalistic spotlighting, however splashes of red, gold and green give the space really fresh vibe.

As you enter you are immediately greeted by an enormous welcoming print of the man himself – Robert Nesta Marley. Following the tri-coloured lines around the white outer walls (which is the same design that is used in parts of Tuff Gong Studios) there are many both famous and rare previously unseen photographs, offering a true retrospective into the life of one of the most influential men in music history.

Here you can see many pictures of Bob and all aspects of his life both onstage and offstage. The photographs range from shots of places from his early life such as his house in Nine Mile, Jamaica which was given to him by his maternal grandfather, to family photos, recording sessions, backstage, video shoots and even shots of him playing dominoes with friends and football with Ziggy. It really is an astounding collection, much of it graciously donated by the Marley family. You really get the impression that Bob loved being around his family and friends but was a man who could also enjoy his own company. Accompanying the photographs the walls have many timelines depicting musical success and crucial points within Bob’s life.

You can hear several different audios being played all at once which can be traced to several TV screens scattered around the exhibit. Being played on the screens are insightful interviews with a huge range of people from close family and friends, to artists that have been influenced and inspired by Bob – some who weren’t even born when he passed away. It is interesting that his music is perhaps more popular and widespread now than it was in his time. At the back of the exhibition space, partly partitioned off is a small ‘mini cinema’ that shows earlier archive footage of the star. 

Bob Marley ExhibitionThere are many rare artefacts featured within the exhibit. His famous ‘Les Paul Special’ which he had specifically modified to suit his sound, one of his denim jackets which he was re-known for wearing (There is also Ziggy’s ‘Dragonfly’ denim outfit that he wore on the 2003 Dragonfly tour in a neighbouring display). More stage garments are offered in the way of a set of I-Three outfits. There are many other fascinating items in the displays including backstage passes, ticket stubs, posters, rare vinyls instruments.  

You can also get involved with the exhibit - in addition to two ‘Sampler Re-mixing Stations’ there are two sets of electric drum kits wired to touchscreen T.Vs that allows you to have a virtual drum lesson where you can learn and play along with ‘Punky Reggae Party’.

A lovely sentimental touch of the exhibit is a collection of sticky notes attached to one part of the wall. Written on the sticky notes are many messages of love and respect, one note that stands out as being particularly poignant is -  "As Bob rests in Zion we all get our own piece of Zion when we put on our Marley records and transcend. Forever in our hearts".

Also at the BME there is an accompanying exhibit - ‘Word, Sound & Power: Reggae changed my life’ which is compiled by Paul Bradshaw with graphics by Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift. The exhibit combines the work of many different photographers with the work of ‘Swifty’ and even the original Jah Shaka sound system bass bin and speaker box. It notably includes an impressive illustration ‘UK Reggae Nation’ which charts the progression of reggae music and sound systems in the UK comprising of bands, MCs singers, sound system technicians, record producers and labels and countless more.

In the BME shop they have created a specific Bob Marley merchandise section selling items from canvasses, posters, artwork and numerous books to t-shirts, coffee and keyrings. Unfortunately, when asked one staff member said that the Bob merchandise was likely to only be there for the duration of the exhibition. She also informed us that the most popular items were key rings and Marley coffee.

If you are in London this summer I would highly recommend that you pay it a visit – you won’t regret it!

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Read comments (1)


Posted by Joanna on 08.25.2012
Love love love xxx

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