The Experience: Jimi Hendrix at Mason's Yard

Classic and unseen images by Gered Mankowitz

18th September to 13th November 2010

Are you thinking about buying a Jimi Hendrix photograph this year?

Don't buy anything until you have seen this exhibition!

From Saturday 18 September to 13 November 2010, we are hosting an exhibition of classic and unseen photographs of Jimi Hendrix by renowned British photographer Gered Mankowitz. This exhibition is an exciting one for us on a whole number of levels, and is our major exhibition of the Autumn season. Not only is this our first ever Jimi Hendrix exhibition, but it is the first time that images from the Jimi Hendrix archives of Gered Mankowitz have been the subject of a solo show.

September 18, 2010, the launch day for the exhibition,  is actually 40 years to the sad day that a 27 year old Jimi Hendrix passed away. There was nobody quite like Jimi Hendrix, both in terms of his guitar playing ability and his extraordinary visual image. He is such an iconic figure that it is easy to assume that everything that can be said about him has been said, and everything that can be seen has already been seen. Not so, as we intend to demonstrate.

Move over Rover, and let Jimi take over
To take in the abundance of unseen riches from Gered’s archives, we are opening up all three floors at our new gallery in Piccadilly Arcade. The upstairs showroom will present a selection of Gered’s traditional handmade black and white silver gelatin photographs, which have been the staple diet of photography collectors and gallery visitors for many years. The ground and lower ground floors of the gallery will be distinctly untraditional, devoted to a collection of physically imposing and boldly conceived artworks created by Gered Mankowitz from his original black and white images. These give a contemporary twist to his classic images, in sizes up to six feet high.

Exciting new techniques
A range of different printing and framing techniques feature in the show including lenticulars, lightboxes, ‘Softsharps’, screenprints, special metallic papers and contemporary framing techniques such as reverse mounting in perspex. It’s stellar stuff - Softsharps are a good example - images that move from Soft to Sharp focus before your very eyes. Jimi would definitely have approved. You can enjoy these artworks where ever you are, as we ship to all corners of the world.

The history
Gered had two shoots with Jimi Hendrix in 1967 in his Mason’s Yard studio in central London, just around the corner from the gallery. On the first shoot, on the very last frame of the first roll, Gered took the portrait that would become the most important photograph of his entire career and possibly the most famous studio portrait of Jimi ever taken. It’s his portrait of  a tightly framed Jimi with hands on hips, taken from a slightly elevated position to emphasize Jimi’s head, the width of his shoulders and his slim hips. Here’s Gered: “It is extraordinary to look back and realize that this portrait was the only shot I did of Jimi by himself on this first roll. I must have either felt very confident that I got it, or was so stupid that I didn’t realize what had just happened. Either way, it was captured, and would go on to have a life of its own many years later.”

Unseen images and a beautiful new book
‘Jimi Classic’ is, well, a classic, but to focus on it in isolation is to ignore the incredibly rich seam of work that makes up Gered Mankowitz’ Jimi Hendrix archive. The majority of the images in this show have never been exhibited before now, and if that isn’t enough to get your juices flowing, the exhibition coincides with the publication of a beautiful new book of photographs of Jimi by Gered Mankowitz. The book, titled ‘The Experience: Jimi Hendrix at Mason’s Yard’ comes in a regular trade hardback version, and a deluxe limited edition version, and both are available to purchase through the gallery. They make ideal gifts. The books are really beautiful pieces of work, and we are including a special souvenir Jimi Hendrix bookmark with every copy. You can buy both versions here

The subplot: Gered of Piccadilly meets Jimi of St James....
The subplot to this exhibition is a roller coaster tale of historic connections, coincidences, twists and turns, all of which take place within a few yards of the gallery premises. There is a great vibe as history comes full circle in Mayfair, Piccadilly and St James. It’s a real tale of old London, and if you come to the gallery, you can explore all these locations.

Mason’s Yard, tucked away behind Fortnum & Mason on Jermyn Street and where the London fog would still roll in in the 1960s. Renamed Mason’s Yard after Hugh Mason of Fortnum & Mason, the most famous grocers shop in the world, took over the stables and carriage houses that filled most of the yard at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Now the home of Jay Jopling’s White Cube, but Mason’s Yard was oh so different back in the day, notably the home of Indica Gallery, where John Lennon met Yoko Ono.

Gered Mankowitz’ studio at number 9 Mason’s Yard The scene of two legendary photo shoots in 1967. The studio: dating back to 1670. The subject: the beautifully coiffeured and luxuriantly attired Mr James Marshall Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix to you and me.

The Scotch of St James.
13 Mason’s Yard. Right slap bang next door to Gered’s Studio. The Scotch – one of the major hang-outs for the music scene of the late 60s. Jimi Hendrix played there the first night he was in London when he sat in with the house band. Most evenings the Yard would be crammed with rock stars cars – Astons, Jags and at least one Facel Vega belonging to Ringo Starr, for whom it was a major hang out. Now under a different name, it still functions as a club.

Number 8 Piccadilly Arcade. Piccadilly Arcade, built in 1911 and now in its 100th year and the location where in the 1940s, a London man and his sister set up what was to become the country’s largest independent antique Wedgwood dealer. The man’s son would help out in the store as a young boy, learning how to pack antique Wedgwood china in the basement of number 8. The man? Wolf Mankowitz, author of Expresso Bongo. The son, Gered Mankowitz, now renowned around the world for his photographs of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and too many others to mention. The shop? Wolf named it after his son – it was called ‘Gered of Piccadilly.’

Now, so many years later, everything is coming full circle, as the exhibition takes place at 8 Piccadilly Arcade, now the home of our beautiful gallery, and the exact same location that Gered's father set up the Mankowitz family business back in the 1940s. You couldn’t make this stuff up!

I hope you enjoy what Gered and I have put together for the exhibition, and that we can tempt you to treat yourself to a piece of rock ‘n’ roll history for your walls and bookshelves. Gered will be at the gallery all day on the opening Saturday, sharing his stories behind these incredible photographs, and signing copies of his book, and would be delighted to meet you.

There is also a very interesting looking Hendrix show going on at Handel House at the same time which you should definitely check out. 

Come and see us soon, and if you have any questions, please just ask. We are here to help.  

Don’t miss this: The Experience – Jimi Hendrix at Mason’s Yard: Images by Gered Mankowitz. Exhibition runs 18 September to 13 November 2010

Guy White
Director, Snap Galleries Limited