Our street-facing window space recently became vacant, so we thought that the space would best be used to create a brand new, public artwork that will be accessible to passers-by whilst the museum is still closed. With this in mind, we teamed up with London-based artist Iona Rowland to create a unique window installation for the museum which documents Jimi Hendrix’s time at 23 Brook Street.

The artwork is composed of multiple layers of screen-prints, drawings, spray paint, and improvisatory marks made in oil pastel and oil paint. Each element is significant to Jimi’s experience in London, referencing his diverse musical influences, extensive record collection, and idiosyncratic fashion choices. The artwork riffs between Jimi’s public persona, which saw him captivate hundreds of thousands of people with his onstage presence and energy, and his contrasting private persona – often introverted and reflective.

Iona said “speaking to Kathy Etchingham gave me an incredible insight into Jimi’s life while living on Brook Street – she told me he would listen to Bob Dylan records incessantly and immerse himself in the poetics of Dylan’s songwriting, how he often shopped at Dandie Fashions on the Kings Road for velvet jackets and garments rich in heavy floral prints, and she also recalled Jimi’s passion for drawing and painting. She described him as a ‘sponge’ soaking up inspiration from a myriad of creative disciplines and aspects of popular culture. The installation is a metaphor for Jimi’s mind – a complex labyrinth of creative references and paradoxical emotions underpinned by a life-long devotion to the guitar.

His love of drawing is alluded to throughout the artwork – spontaneous squiggles made in oil pastel are a nod to Jimi’s surrealist doodles while a drawing of Bob Dylan depicting the Highway 61 Revisited cover is rendered in felt pen – one of Jimi’s go-to mediums. American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is also acknowledged through a crown motif, Iona explained ‘I began to notice parallels between Hendrix and Basquiat – both revolutionaries who defied genre definition, surrounded by mystery and mythology, and tragically both members of the “27 Club”.’

Iona Rowland

Iona Rowland was born in Derby in 1990 and studied Fine Art at Kingston University from 2010-2013, before attending Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York in 2015. Since graduating, she has exhibited widely across the UK in both solo and group shows. Key exhibitions include Indelible Traces at Nolias Gallery, London; MMNTM at Bohunk Institute, Nottingham; Regram at Slate London; A Futuristic Woman at Square Gallery, London; T2 Shoreditch, London; ING Discerning Eye 2017 and the Derwent Art Prize 2018, both at London’s Mall Galleries. She has also exhibited regularly at GX Gallery in Camberwell, London. Creating artwork for the public realm continues to be at the core of her practice and Iona has delivered major commissions for Shaftesbury PLC, Seven Dials London, Boom Cycle, Derby County Football Club, Umbro, House of Vans and Jamaica’s Freedom Skatepark. Her work is held in private collections across the world.

ionarowlandart.com / @ionarowlandart