John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins: Against Tyranny at Idea Generation Gallery, London

Idea Generation Gallery, London

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins: Against Tyranny
19th June > 19th July 2009

Counter-cultural incendiary of the 1960s and roving photojournalist John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins charts Britain’s emergence from the age of austerity into an era of pop, protest and psychedelia.

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins

John + Rickenbacker
© John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins,

Idea Generation Gallery presents a new exhibition of paraphernalia and photographs by veteran activist and revolutionary John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, many of which are being shown for the first time. Encompassing both the grand scale of mass rallies and the squalid intimacy of bedsit and backrooms of freaks, tearaways and bohemians, these electrifying images act as a record of 1960s London on the cusp of a new era, as the city shaped up for the struggle to redefine itself as a modern metropolis.

It was an exhilarating time and Hoppy was both protagonist and observer in the story, at the vanguard of a generation which broke radically with a conservative past. Founder of legendary psychedelic night club, UFO; cofounder of radical underground newspaper, The International Times; and photographer for Melody Maker, The Times and Peace News, he was well placed to record the revolution as it unfolded. This exhibition will uniquely feature rare copies of the International Times, and stunning psychedelic posters designed by Nigel Weymouth for the UFO.

Spanning a period of intense photographic activity, Hoppy’s images pull no punches and show an empire in decline, under attack from an unprecedented and rampant sub-cultural revolution that came roaring in from the shadows. Charged shots of Anti-Nuclear Rallies, Beat Poetry performances, LSD sessions and East End slums are born of an uncompromising belief in the transformative power of political activism, counter-culture and photography.

From raw revolution and clenched fists of protesters in Trafalgar Square, to posturing leather clad bikers and their chicks at the Ace Café, the power of his images derive from his proximity to the eye of the coming cultural storm.

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins

Mick ear
© John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins,

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins

LSD meets CND 1
© John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins,

Hoppy’s path to photography was not a direct one. In 1959 he set off as part of the Cheltenham Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and drove a funeral hearse to Moscow to protest against ‘the bomb’. He became separated from the group in Moscow and was eventually deported by the Russians to Finland, to the acute embarrassment of his employers, Harwell Atomic Research labs, where he worked as a reactor scientist.

Arriving in London on January 1st 1961, a portentous date for a man who was to become a driving force in this turbulent decade, he settled in West London where he rented out rooms to struggling artists. Hoppy worked as a news photographer for the Sunday Times, Melody Maker and Peace News and became a regular face at Ronnie Scott’s, and captured taking beautiful shots of great jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington performing across London as well as Beat Poetry readings, Happenings, peace marches, and portraits of leading figures like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Allen Ginsberg.

Ever the inventor and alchemist of the ‘scene’ he also co-founded the world famous International Times, a radical underground newspaper which featured Germaine Greer and William Burroughs as contributors. The legacy of this publication is long lasting, and the exhibition features rare front covers from the magazine’s history.

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins

Tattooist 2
© John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins,

Hoppy also famously worked with Joe Boyd to create The UFO club. The Tottenham Court Road venue was to become the lynch pin of psychedelic London and opened with performances from Pink Floyd and later played host to legendary bands like Procol Harum, Soft Machine and Jeff Beck.

‘Asleep for 30-odd years then rediscovered by accident, certain of the images from this brief 6-year period have now become iconic (recognised).’ Hoppy continues ‘Many more of them have not been seen before and are therefore perhaps more free from the historical accumulation of meaning than the iconics – at least for a little while. Then, word falling / image falling / lost in a dusty street half-covered in sand / the skein unravels / dust to dust.’

Images © John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins,


Stampfli & Turci – Art Dealers

Disclaimer & Copyright


~ by Stampfli & Turci on June 24, 2009.

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