Rolling Stones Exhibition

All Sold Out?

Leah Lee Mills

I was at my girlfriend’s when I saw on the news that the Rolling Stones had opened an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Since that day, for months on end, my mum had repeatedly messaged/called/verbally asked me to go to it with her. I love the Stones – ‘Satisfaction’ was one of the first songs I knew thanks to my dad. We often belted out the lyrics in his car together (a rare bonding moment), and the greatest hits CD was played A LOT in my household… but going to London is ‘effort’ for me. Days of the exhibition having just opened turned into months of the exhibition remaining open until it was August, and the adverts transformed into ‘last few weeks to attend this awesome exhibit on an awesome band!’

So we bought tickets.

For one of the hottest days of the year.

What a mistake that was.

On a packed train down to Charing Cross, then straight into ‘Burrito’ as soon we reached the heart of London. Why is my nearest ‘Burrito’ in Brighton??? It’s like Subway but…. burritos. And, as always, I had my frozen Margarita – a bitter, alcoholic Slush Puppy perfect for fun-loving adults like me.

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An underground trip later and we were at Sloane Square, directly outside of the Saatchi gallery. The first thing that caught my attention was not the giant Stones lips statues dotted around, but the tiny man in a glass jar.




Then I laughed, because the Stones lips were positioned at the end of each bench, and an old man happened to be sitting on the end so it looked like he was getting a giant licking. We had to run off before I potentially angered him by taking a photo.




In the exhibition, photography is completely banned. They have stickers on every single door to each room. But take it from me, it was well worth the trip on the sizzling day. As its run comes to an end in a few weeks, I will not majorly spoil it, but there was one part that I absolutely adored.

In one room, you actually walk through the Stones’ first shared flat in Edith Grove. I mean, you don’t literally go to Edith Grove, but they have faithfully recreated it right down to the panties on the windowsill and the mould on the walls. I joked about trying to see if we can count all the dishes recycled as ashtrays dotted around on every available surface. It was so authentic, so real, and my mum was in utter awe, telling me that it was exactly like her shared flat around that time. I would have loved to actually sit on the tatty sofa, Chuck Berry vinyl blasting on the record player, typing up their early days biopic. I made a random stranger laugh when I stared at the world’s grottiest kitchen, complete with chips littered on the floor, and commented that it was exactly like my university house kitchen. And that is the thing; they were lads about my age, making it in the world without making their beds. Goals.

As I walked around the exhibition I tried very hard to not compare it to the Bowie one I attended years earlier, before the starman had shot up into the sky (who really believes he died a mortal death? No one, that’s who…). The thing is, the Stones exhibition is much shorter than the Bowie one because the Stones are primarily musicians, while Bowie was a multifaceted individual with his fingers in the music industry, as well as the art industry, as well as the film industry, as well as the technology industry…

One thing I noticed about the exhibition really confused me; while Bowie’s was grouped by decade, the Stones had rooms based around different elements. It was interesting to walk into a room wholly dedicated to their costumes, then one for the recording of their tracks, but it soon became confusing. All the decades were lumped into one room together and you often found yourself asking ‘so… when did this happen?’ while frantically searching for dates on guitars and the like. It wasn’t entirely distracting, and the exhibition was still engaging and brilliant without it. I loved every second, every item I examined, every tiny diary entry written by Keith Richards I read. How the man continues to survive I have no idea, but I am not going to jinx him either.

This exhibition left me poorer (I bought an exhibition design shirt), singing Sex Drive on repeat, and a lot more knowledgeable about a band I adore. Worth it.



Editor: Floss Hafter-Smith






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