Pink Floyd / Their Mortal Remains / SDE V&A exhibition preview

Roger Water’s hand-drawn Bedford van

The V&A’s new Pink Floyd exhibition, Their Mortal Remains, opens to the public in a few days, but SDE gathered with some of the world’s press yesterday and enjoyed an exclusive preview….

The exhibition provides a visual and aural history of the band and takes in what Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell (co-founder of Hipgnosis, who worked with Pink Floyd throughout their career) described as the three stages of the band. In his words these were: “The Syd Barrett state, the opening part where they were just an amateur band” through to “the point where David Gilmour arrived and changed the sound of the band completely with his virtuosity on the guitar, plus his beautiful voice”. ‘Po’ pointed out that during this phase, “Roger Waters really came to the front, because they’d actually lost their songwriter in Syd Barrett. But Roger had concepts, deeper concepts.” Stage three is what he called “David Gilmour and Nick Mason’s Pink Floyd”.

Although the journey and the stories are relatively well known (Syd turns up during Wish You Were Here sessions, man says ‘I’ve had enough’ after being set on fire 13 times for the cover of the same album) but it’s both the completeness of the Pink Floyd narrative and the excellence with which this show is presented, that really impresses.

Enter ‘Their Mortal Remains’ through a big van

The exhibition follows a linear path (think walking around Ikea) which literally starts with you entering the fledgling outfit’s Bedford Van (which inspired the design of the recent Early Years box set). The ‘van’ leads to a room of psychedelia, with press cuttings of early concerts at the UFO club in London, photographs and a ‘family tree’ of Pink Floyd.

‘Groovy, man’. Psychedelia and counter-culture in evidence early on

All the time, as you walk, you have your Sennheiser bluetooth headphones. The music played is appropriate not only to which room you are in within the exhibition, but also where you are in that room. If you walk up to a screen playing video, you immediately start to hear the audio from that screen. It’s seamless and brilliantly realised.

The exhibition moves forward, year-by-year, album-by-album. There’s original guitars on display, keyboards, frilly shirts, early echo machines like the ‘Binson Echorec Baby’ and monitors showing clips from various documentaries, featuring all the band and various collaborators. Much, if not all of the video, will be familiar to diehards.

The Dark Side Of The Moon

If you’ve ever seen any of those ‘Classic Album’ documentaries, you’ll know that one of the most fascinating features is when the artist or producer gets behind the mixing disc and starts playing around with the faders and deconstructs the multi-track recording of a familiar song. Their Mortal Remains allows you to do this with Money from The Dark Side Of The Moon. What a thrill! Again, the headphones work so well. You walk up to the mixing desk (there are three of them) and Money starts playing. You are left to ‘fiddle around’ with those faders and the music changes immediately as you bring guitars down, vocals up, etc. This was a real highlight and quite hard to move away from…

Have it your way. Re-mix ‘Money’.

Animals and The Wall are represented in a hangar-like room which contains and enormous replica of Battersea Power Station and of course the pig! There’s various Wall characters and inflatables up high.

Enormous replica of Battersea Power Station.

I did find myself moving through the latter stages of the band’s career a little more quickly although the ‘heads’ from The Division Bell are very impressive. The exhibition ends with a 360º visual presentation of the band’s last time on stage together at Live 8 in 2005, performing Comfortably Numb (I was lucky enough to have been there). This has been mixed from the original tapes (at Abbey Road by Simon Franklin, Simon Rhodes and Andy Jackson) in something called ‘ambeo’ which is a new ‘3D Audio Technology’ invented by Sennheiser. The audio for this finale, came from 17 channels over 25 speakers.

Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell described the journey of finding all of the elements to put in this exhibition as “not only nostalgic, but deeply emotional”. Many fans will undoubtedly feel the same as they take in the artefacts and music. I will be returning with my family later this month and will note with interest how engaged they are, with little (wife) to no knowledge (daughters) of the band and the music.

As I exited through the gift shop (the hardcover catalogue is well worth £35), I’m not sure I had learned too much, or deepened my love for the band, but it was a highly entertaining couple of hours and more immersive than those immersion box sets from 2011 – without a marble in sight.

Their Mortal Remains opens at the V&A on Saturday 13 May and runs to 1 October 2017. You can book tickets here.

Compare prices and pre-order


Aubrey "Po" Powell

Their Mortal Remains – hardcover catalogue with lenticular cover

Shop Price GBP Stock
Amazon de 6LP coloured vinyl box 6.37
Amazon usa 6LP coloured vinyl box 30.63
Amazon ca 6LP coloured vinyl box 30.88
Amazon uk 6LP coloured vinyl box 6.38
Amazon fr 6LP coloured vinyl box 30.81
Amazon it 6LP coloured vinyl box 6.37
Amazon es 6LP coloured vinyl box 6.35

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50 responses to Pink Floyd / Their Mortal Remains / SDE V&A exhibition preview

  1. elliott buckingham says:

    i wonder if there will be a v&a exclusive release on cd and vinyl like the one released for the rebels show

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      No there isn’t. The only rare-ish thing was the RSD vinyl. They did have some Early Years box sets for £400!

      • Jochen Klug says:

        Going in September but I suspect the RSD vinyl will be sold out by then… No chance of you picking up a copy for me when you return later this month? I’ll be happy to pay any extra expenses you might encounter.


    They had better not have “deleted” Peter Christopherson’s credits where due… like they have on the cds!

  3. Trash says:

    I think the Bowie IS exhibition started off this current trend for artists presenting their archives in exhibition form.
    That exhibition worked very well and had the same Senheiser headphone system. I shall try to visit the Pink Floyd exhibition as it sounds like it might be a similarly pleasurable experience (I love the idea of playing with the multitrack of Money!).
    Thank you for the preview Paul.

  4. adam shaw says:

    I’m going next weekend , really looking forward to it , I saw the Bowie IS and didn’t want to leave it , looks like the the part where they are displaying Animals is like the part where the Bowie Live footage was .
    Can’t wait !!

  5. Christophe says:

    Thank you for the review Paul .my Wife and I Got tickets for July we will travel from France Nice to catch the mood and are very excited ..I ll be wearing my SDE shirt during thé visit

  6. Richard Starkey says:

    How awesome….if only I didn’t live 4,000 miles away. I don’t The Tube will run a new line under the Atlantic anytime soon…?

  7. Rasputin says:

    Thank you very much, Paul, for this interesting review!

    This morning, only one copy of the mini van was bought. In the online shop of the exhibition. The cost was 40 GBP + delivery.
    November 19, 2016 New die cast model van issued in extremely limited quantities to promote the Pink Floyd Early Years box set was sold at eBay auction for 310 GBP

    The hardcover catalogue (35 GBP) this is a hardcover book Their Mortal Remains? Book with lenticular cover, really?


  8. Steve says:

    Thank you for the review, Paul. It all looks great ! I am really hoping that this exhibit will come to the USA in the next year or so ?

  9. Rasputin says:

    By the way, I heard some rumors. It seems in some music magazine it was written that the exhibition will travel to different countries, but in which – it is still unknown.

  10. peter wolf says:

    Paul thanks for your fantastic reviews on all things Floyd and no marbles oh well i am also hoping with Rasputin’s rumors and it may include other countries let’s hope it can bring “Pictures At An Exhibition” to Australia i understand The Rolling Stones are or will be doing something along the same lines on what scale & where i am not quite sure, but from what i have read there is one due in Australia in Sydney 2017 0r 2018?

  11. Lilu says:

    Can’t go to London before october 7th, hope exhibition will be extended or I’ll cry :-)

  12. Alexandre says:

    i’m still unsure if it’s worth the trip from Paris where i live…tickets/train/hotel room. decision decision.

    how long is the tour?

  13. Gavin says:

    So can you buy the die cast vans in the gift shop? Be nice for the box set

  14. Zongadude says:

    I’ll be visinting this exhibit on Monday :)
    Can’t wait. I’m not reading this article until I come back, because I don’t want to read any spoiler about it. ;)

  15. richie says:

    Booked tickets yesterday to coincide with our visit to the Capital to see Big Big Train, the finest Prog Rock band currently on the planet.

    I hope any ‘teething’ issues are sorted by the time (September) we visit because as good as it seems that you can make your visit last as long as you wish surely this is inviting ‘bottlenecks’.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      They’ve probably worked out all that in terms of ticket allocations and timings etc.

  16. Michel Kempes says:

    Is there some kind of poster for sale? Like an announcenent for the exhibition in the V&A

  17. Gavin says:

    Vans turned up on the v & a website but now sold out boo!

  18. michael1984 says:

    No marbles???? Wow, radical. We should all get together and pelt the person who came up with the idea of putting marbles into those sets with their own marbles! I’d be happy to chuck mine at someone for a good cause like that….Oh, yeah: that remixing feature alone makes me want t check this display out, even though I am throughly sick of the song Money. But even a song like that which I am sick of, would be fun to twiddle the knobs around and see what’s on each of the individual tracks!

  19. Jon C says:

    Cool! We’ll be staying just down the road in Earls Court for a few weeks in early August, so will have to check it out! I love that museum. :)

  20. Craig says:

    Seems the UK price in the widgets is no longer applicable. Oh well i’ll be getting this just in case the exhibit doesn’t make it out to the Bay Area.

  21. Steve Barrett says:

    Great review, I’m looking forward to a visit.
    Must purchase a toy van
    Thank you Paul

  22. Rasputin says:

    The book is sold only from third sellers!

    The model of the minivan was sold only in one copy!

    I received a mail from the museum.
    The model will not be sold on the site!
    Only by phone…

    Pig is terrible! See below… Cost 15 GBP

    • Mike says:

      “I received a mail from the museum.
      The model will not be sold on the site!
      Only by phone…”

      Not be sold on site (at the museum) or not sold on the website?

      • Rasputin says:

        The website of the museum

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Yes, but what’s this “only by phone” business. Never heard of a website that will only allow you to buy items over the phone :)

          • Rasputin says:

            That’s right! I do not understand this myself.
            But they sent me exactly such an answer by mail

  23. Marcelo says:

    What’s this thing about the van? I don´t get it, sorry :(

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The Bedford Van was the band’s first tour van. They used the design (black with white stripe) for the ‘Early Years’ box. And in the exhibition there is a photo of it and a letter where Roger Water references it. It seems that some promotional toy vans may have been created for The Early Years campaign, some of which have found their way to eBay. I didn’t notice any at the V&A shop and unless someone can tell me otherwise, I’m sure they were just a cute promotional item.

  24. Martin says:

    May’s Mojo (the Animals Cover) contains an article discussing the exhibition, and it mentions:

    “Their Mortal Remains, an event that will spend five months in London before touring the world under the V&A banner for the next five years”.

    Anyone have any details of which countries it will be going to? Australia?

  25. Gavin says:

    I have become obsessed with finding a van

  26. Gavin says:

    Old school rules – called v and a site and van ordered free postage too – I shall post pictures when turns up – super excited and hopefully will sit in that little gap in the box set- ps – don’t tell the wife

  27. Zongadude says:

    There was some minivan replicas in the V&A shop, just at the end of the exhibit. Wether these are the same as the promotional replicas that have been made, I cannot tell you, but I found them to be really small and tiny. I didn’t buy one.
    (But I bought the excellent lenticular cover hardcover edition of the program).

  28. Dean T says:

    Only 5 vans left in stock a moment ago ….very limited or just low stock…. if you want one know is the time ..be quick…

  29. Mark says:

    Got there yesterday. Very interesting, wasn’t too bad in terms of bottlenecks. Slightly preferred the Bowie exhibition but it was far better than the Stones exhibition. Been listening constantly to the Early Years set since. Got the catalogue which is very nice and a fluffy pig. Starting to wish I got the van though….

  30. Mark says:

    If you are looking to order the van. My receipt for the catalogue says that the promo code FIVER will give you a fiver off orders over £50 on the V&A site.

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