Exhibition: Spiceworld – The Exhibition, Leeds City Museum, Leeds, until July 3 2011
© Liz West, spicegirlscollection.co.uk
In 1996, as the Spice Girls zinged into all-conquering life with saccharine chart-basher Wannabe, Liz West did her bit to help by buying two copies of the single.
“I must have had a collector’s instinct even as a 12-year-old child,” she confesses, claiming she just wanted to “support the Girls” and “help them be number one”.
“My collection really began when I went on a trip to London. I went to Hamleys, where they had a display of discounted Spice Girls Dolls.”
West hadn’t been able to afford the £20 cost of each feminist figurine in Woolworths, but the southern sale allowed her to buy four.
“It then became a challenge for me to find the fifth doll, Melanie C,” she adds, spending the next eight years trawling a “primitive” internet before eventually spotting her mini Sporty Spice.
“Visiting eBay made me realise how many different Spice Girls memorabilia products existed that I was not aware of in the 1990s. It has since become my mission to collect Spice Girls paraphernalia from every corner of the world.”
She was destined to assemble the largest collection dedicated to the famous five in the world, a haul so large she’s been limited to putting only a fraction of it on display so far in hugely popular exhibitions at Clifton Park in Rotherham, Cusworth Hall in Doncaster and the British Music Experience at London’s O2.
CDs, vinyl, Union Jack platform boots and signed photos of pouting future Beckhams abound, with more examples from the 3,400 items – including dozens of grinning, lurid dolls – available to view in an online version of the show.
“I wanted to get the collection out of storage and exhibit it for all to see,” says West.
“It’s pointless being hidden away when there are some amazing items in there to wonder at.”
- Open Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm (7pm Thursday, 11am-5pm Saturday and Sunday). Admission free.