The Experience: Jimi Hendrix at Mason's Yard

Classic and unseen images by Gered Mankowitz

18th September to 6th November 2010

Are you thinking about buying a Jimi Hendrix photograph this year?
Don't buy anything until you have seen this exhibition!

Jimi Hendrix... hasn't it all been said ? Hasn't it all been seen already ? Well, we can categorically assure you that it hasn't.
Prepare yourself for a tale of old London.

A roller coaster tale of connections, coincidences, twists and turns, all taking place within a few yards of the gallery, and culminating in a deeply satisfying good time vibe as history comes full circle in Mayfair, Piccadilly and St James.

A tale of misty evenings in 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…

A tale of two legendary photo shoots in 1967 at Gered Mankowitz’ studio at number 9 Mason’s Yard. The studio: dating back to 1670. The subject: the beautifully coiffeured and luxuriantly attired Mr James Marshall Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix to you and me. Get this: it’s the first shoot, and 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 Jimi with hands on 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.”

A tale of 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. The Beatles had their own table here, and anyone foolish enough to sit there pre-Fabs night out would have been asked to shift. Keith Moon once came up to the Beatles and asked "Can I join you?". John replied "Yes, sit down" and Moon said "No, you don't understand - can I join you?". A reasonable try, but they wanted a scouse drummer.

A tale of Piccadilly Arcade – built in 1911 and now in its 100th year.

A tale of Number 8 Piccadilly Arcade, 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. Not an actual wolf, mind.

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.’
But wait – things change. Wedgwood acquire the business from Wolf and his sister, and ditch the ‘Gered’ name. Then – there’s “trouble at mill” as years later, the Waterford Wedgwood group go down the proverbial. Cue a renovation of the premises, and a hunt by the landlady – none other than her Majesty the Queen of England – for a new tenant at number 8 Piccadilly Arcade.

Step forward Snap Galleries, a photography gallery specialising in iconic rock ‘n’ roll images, now based at number 8 Piccadilly Arcade. The Queen loves us. Her Maj says yes! And we’re in.

Fast forward to 18 September, the launch day for our stunning exhibition, 40 years to the sad day since a 27 year old Jimi Hendrix passed away. Now, so many years later, everything is coming full circle. Snap Galleries is proud to present a stunning visual feast, a major exhibition of photographs and related artworks created by Gered Mankowitz from his Jimi Hendrix archives, on show 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.

Coinciding with the publication of a spectacular book of photographs, it’s where Gered of Piccadilly meets Jimi of St James.
Gered Mankowitz will be at the gallery all day on the opening Saturday, sharing his stories behind these incredible photographs, and signing copies of his (by then) newly published book. There is also a very interesting looking Hendrix show going on at Handel House at the same time which you should check out.

Don’t miss this: The Experience – Jimi Hendrix at Mason’s Yard: Images by Gered Mankowitz. Exhibition runs 18 September to 6 November 2010

We will of course be releasing oodles of information nearer the time.

see also Gered Mankowitz's video interview on the photoshoot: