Wight Spirit exhibition marks 50th anniversary of Isle of Wight Festival

This new exhibition in West London celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the iconic Isle of Wight Festival. It runs until September so there’s plenty of time to head up to see it

The Isle of Wight Music Festival 1970. Photograph by Charles Everest

The directors of Masterpiece Art are delighted to present Wight Spirit, 1968-70, an exhibition celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the seminal Isle of Wight Festival.

Opening on Monday 27th July, the show is comprised of new sculptures by Guy Portelli and a selection of photographs — some never seen before — taken by the late Charles Everest.

In addition, the gallery has created a feature-length documentary which will bring to light the festival’s history and legacy.

Joni Mitchell - Isle of Wight 1970 © Charles Everest CameronLife Photo Library
Joni Mitchell – Isle of Wight 1970 © Charles Everest CameronLife Photo Library

When it began in 1968, 10,000 people attended the event, but by 1970 this had swelled to 300,000+. That year the line-up included Jimi Hendrix, The Who and the Doors, and was a landmark in Britain’s cultural history, as well as serving as the progenitor for countless other open-air festivals.

Guy Portelli, who has curated the show, says:

“The Isle of Wight Festival is Europe’s Woodstock. You could argue it has more significance, and yet it isn’t venerated in the same way.

“I am not sure why that is, given the bands that played there and the huge number of people it attracted.

“My hope is that this exhibition, along with the accompanying film, will help redress that.”

Glass mosaic artwork
The centrepiece of the exhibition is Portelli’s large-scale glass mosaic panel. Entitled Wight Spirit.

Wight Spirit by Guy Portelli. Photo by Rabah Ichadadene
Wight Spirit by Guy Portelli © Rabah Ichadadene

It features the handprints of more than 80 musicians who performed at the festival, including members of Jefferson Airplane, Free, Pretty Things and The Move.

Photography by Charles Everest
Showing alongside the sculptural works are over 60 photographs taken by Charles Everest (1929-2015) at the 1970 event. A highly successful newsreel cameraman and stills photographer, Everest worked as a Press liaison for the festival organisers.

In return for his services, he received unparalleled access to the performances on stage. Realised in collaboration with CameronLife Photo Library, this exhibition will see limited editions of Everest’s work available for the first time.

Jimi Hendrix - Isle of Wight 1970 Charles Everest © CameronLife Photo Library
Jimi Hendrix – Isle of Wight 1970 Charles Everest © CameronLife Photo Library

The documentary
WIGHT SPIRIT, 1968-70, The Documentary has been made in partnership with Blood Orange Film and features archival footage and interviews with eminent figures connected to the festival’s legacy.

It will also include live shows performed by some of the musicians who played at the festival from 1968-70. These will take place at the central London studio and showroom of guitar brand Gibson in August. Masterpiece Art will also stage a one-day exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death on 18 September.

Cousens: Honoured to be marking the fiftieth anniversary
Alex Cousens, Executive Gallery Manager and Sales Director at Masterpiece Art, says,

“We’re honoured to be marking the fiftieth anniversary of this seminal festival, and especially pleased to be showing Guy Portelli’s astonishing mosaic and Charles Everest’s photographs.

“Together with the film, they eloquently capture the spirit and magic of those times.”

Where and when
The Wight Spirit Exhibition takes place at Masterpiece Art, 3 Norland Place, London W11 4QG between 27th July — 5th September 2020.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the exhibition is by appointment only. Please contact by telephone, 020 3946 7881.

Masterpiece Art works with three charities that focus on music as an aid for dementia sufferers: Resonate Arts, Music for Dementia and M4D Radio.


Main Image: Free – Isle of Wight 1970 by Charles Everest – Charles Everest © CameronLife Photo Library

Thursday, 23rd July, 2020 3:41pm

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