- 27 Sep 17
Paul Nolan reports on the Kildare company’s fascinating exhibition on the grunge legend
Hot Press was granted a sneak peek at Newbridge Silverware’s new Kurt Cobain exhibition this morning – and it turned out to be a fascinating insight into the life and creative approach of the grunge icon.
We were talked through the various items of artwork and memorabilia by Julien’s Auctions’ Martin Nolan, who flew over from the company’s LA HQ for the show’s unveiling. A native of Athlone, Nolan’s work with Julien’s Auctions has seen him become a friend of the Cobain family, and indeed he has been to visit Kurt’s mother, Wendy, at the family home in Aberdeen – the town in which Kurt and Krist Novselic grew up, and which inspired Nevermind’s famous closing track ‘Something In The Way’.
Pride of place in the exhibition goes to the Bobcats cheerleader outfit Kurt wore for a Rolling Stone shoot in early 1994, just months before his death. As Nolan noted, it was an outfit only Cobain – with his gleefully subversive approach to style – could pull off. The gold and blue cheerleading outfit came from Kurt’s alma mater, Aberdeen Weatherwax High School.
Emphasising Cobain’s railing against macho rock traditions, in the accompanying photo from the Rolling Stone shoot, the rest of Nirvana stand beside him wearing PVC leather outfits. Other notable items belonging to Cobain in the collection include a vintage trench coat; a corduroy jacket worn by a mascara-ed Kurt in one of the most iconic photos ever taken of him (also part of the exhibition); a paisley pattern shirt; and a classic tee from Nirvana’s first tour – which, the accompanying notes helpfully explain, on the reverse side bears the words “Fudge packin’, crack smokin’, Satan worshippin’ motherfuckers.”
But that’s not all for Nirvana fanatics to get their teeth into, as also contained in the Gods Of Grunge & Rock exhibit are early drafts of the Incesticide artwork; the MTV VMA won by the group in 1992 (on the night the group famously squared off against Guns ‘N’ Roses in the grunge version of Blur v Oasis); handwritten notes from Cobain for the Live! Tonight! Sold Out! video, and much more.
As Martin Nolan noted, it collectively offers an intriguing insight into a maverick artist who refused to bow to any person or institution – hence his ongoing veneration by successive generations of rock fans. The items will be on view at Newbridge Silverware for the next month before going to auction.
Elsewhere, the exhibition also boasts some other fascinating items, including matching suits worn by The Beatles; a vintage bass signed by Paul McCartney; a red shirt worn by Prince; Michael Jackson’s famous white glove and black suit combo; and a drum kit used by Jimi Hendrix’s drummer Mitch Mitchell during rehearsals for the Rolling Stones’ Rock And Roll Circus, as part of the Dirty Mac supergroup that also included John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards.
The Newbridge Silverware Museum is open Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm and Sundays from 10am-6pm, and entry is free.