This exhibition was an insight into the life of the world-renowned icon, Freddie Mercury. It displayed the singer’s most priceless valuables from across the globe. These ranged from ceramics, art, fashion, musical instruments, personal papers, possessions and photographs, furniture, and jewels, accrued over the course of fifty years. The exhibit was divided into 6 sections:
In Love With Japan
Crazy Little Things I
Crazy Little Things II
The Evening Sale
In Love With Japan
This section of the exhibit showcases Freddie’s growing fascination with Japan, which initially sparked during Queen’s inaugural tour of the country in 1975. His interest in contemporary and historical art, as well as various artefacts and objects, continued to intensify over the years. This section of the exhibit displays his love for Japan.
Mercury consistently favoured the deep-sleeved full-length kimonos known as Furisode, particularly those with a heavier winter weight. While adhering to this preference, it appears that Mercury also selected kimonos based on personal interest, which encompassed bold abstract graphic designs featuring clouds, pines, and flowers (influenced by his background in graphic design at Ealing College), as well as figurative and narrative scenes inspired by nature and traditional Japanese art. These stunning designs were achieved through the skilled technique of tie-dye bokashi-zome and applied to the silk using stencils.
An uchikake [outer-kimono for a woman] | Showa period, 20th century
A collection of Kimonos from Freddie’s closet
The thick long-sleeved outer robe in silk weave is decorated in stencil dye (kata-yuzen), and embroidered in gold-wrapped silk threads, with branches of blossoming plums, stalks of bamboo and pine forming the ‘Three Friends of Winter’ (shochikubai). It’s also interspersed with scattered fan-shaped cartouches, alternately depicting ox-carts, peonies, pine, cranes in flight, chrysanthemums and irises.
Crazy Little Things I & II
A Japanese Satsuma vase, Meiji period, late 19th century
A collection of his awards
Through a meticulously chosen assortment of personal belongings and cherished possessions, this section of the exhibit offers a glimpse into the remarkable inner world of Freddie Mercury. From his telephone, used for endless hours of engaging in essential gossip, to his beloved Tiffany moustache comb, immerse yourself in the enchanting and intimate realm of this extraordinary man. A delightful auction of oddments, curios and beloved objects from Freddie’s home. These are the little things that meant so much to Freddie Mercury, a man who insisted on perfection and beauty in everything, every day.
A collection of freddie’s tshirts
A motley group of feline ornaments, 20th century
Freddie Mercury’s love for cats was well-known and cherished. The presence of numerous cat collectibles in the exhibition is a testament to his affection for these animals. It is fascinating to learn that he owned around 10 cats, considering them as part of his family. Peter Freestone, Freddie’s assistant, shared that Mercury deeply cared for his feline companions. He ensured that each cat had their own Christmas stocking filled with treats and toys, emphasizing the love and care he showered upon them. This aspect of Mercury’s life further illustrates his kind-hearted nature and the importance he placed on the well-being of his beloved pets.
Freddie Mercury | Autograph manuscript draft lyrics for Bohemian Rhapsody c.1974
Freddie Mercury | Autograph draft for lyrics for Killer Queen c.1974
Freddie Mercury | Autograph manuscript draft lyrics for ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, c.1978
This collection of extensive and detailed drafts offers a unique and unparalleled insight into the development and composition of Mercury’s greatest song. Spanning over eight pages of draft lyrics and an additional seven pages dedicated to vocal harmonies, these drafts provide a glimpse into the creative process behind “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The drafts include alternative titles, alternate lines, and fragments that were later incorporated into the final song. There are successive drafts of different sections, including an abandoned set of verses and drafts of the operatic section. The vocal harmonies are outlined in detail, covering the introduction, operatic section, and outro. The drafts are written in pencil, black and blue ballpoint. These pages offer a valuable resource for understanding the evolution of these iconic song.
Freddie’s on stage costumes
According to Freddie Mercury, establishing a connection with the audience was his top priority when performing. This involved utilizing movement, sound, presence, and notably, colour. By carefully selecting and wearing his attire, particularly at centre-stage, he embodied these elements, further enhancing his performance and connection with the audience
A cased gramophone by W. A. Webber, London, circa 1930
At Home provides a glimpse into the extraordinary world that Freddie created at Garden Lodge. Behind the iconic green door, visitors were treated to an unparalleled collection of fine and decorative arts, including porcelain and glass, meticulously gathered over the years through Freddie’s discerning selection. Freddie’s deep understanding of the objects he acquired made the curation and display of these pieces a matter of great significance to him. Freddie’s ability to harmoniously combine different styles and artistic movements, ranging from 19th Century European Furniture to Japanese ceramics, showcases his sophistication, talent, and visionary approach as a collector.
The Evening Sale
Urade Katsuhiko, Swimming carp, Showa period, 20th century
1869 – 1954
Masque blanc sur fond noir (D. 811)
1860 – 1903
Sideboard, circa 1895
The Evening Sale section honours the incredible life, work, and art of Freddie Mercury. It brings together a diverse range of items including artworks, objects, costumes, and lyrics that showcase his extraordinary vision, artistry, and impeccable taste. This sale is a unique opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the legacy of Freddie Mercury
Indeed, the exhibition provided an immersive experience that allowed visitors to delve into the life of Freddie Mercury. By showcasing his likes, interests and personal treasures, it offered a unique perspective on his fascinating and dynamic life. From his fun and exciting moments to the challenges he faced, the exhibition provided valuable insights into the multifaceted personality of Freddie Mercury. Visitors were able to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the man behind the music and his remarkable journey.
34-35 New Bond Street
London W1A 2AA
By Karen Gomes