Rolling Stones mark iconic year for Hampstead gallery

Never before seen images of the band are on show in a special year for the Zebra Gallery

Fifty years ago, in Dartford, the Rolling Stones were formed. Almost ten years later, Lee Brews set up the Zebra Gallery in Hampstead. Now in the year that both are celebrating milestones, serendipity has brought the two together: In the fiftieth year of the Rolling Stones, the iconic Zebra Gallery will feature some never before seen photographs of the band, by renowned photographers Dominique Tarle and Peter Webb.

The Zebra Gallery was a bastion for bohemia on Perrins Court in the late 70s and 80s. Lee Brews fast turned the gallery and framing shop, which sold works from modern masters like Henry Moore, Matisse and Picasso as well as works by Hockney and Man Ray, into something of a salon, where locals came to chat and have a look around at the art.

Many a night was spent by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore having drinking and painting sessions with Brews in the cellar (sadly none of the works made it to sale).

Brews had an impressive client roster- including Moore and Cook and Michael Foot and Anthony Minghella. But being in Hampstead was, for Brews, not all about the stellar names.

He recalls: “One Christmas we were frantically busy when a lady with a trolley came into the gallery, she had her turkey in the oven,it was three minutes before closing time, she desperately wanted to buy a picture which her husband wanted. She pointed to the window in which was a Hockney drawing among others, took her cheque book out, asked the price, wrote a cheque for �5000, grabbed the picture and left.

I was locking up to go home when I noticed the Hockney still in the window, She actually bought a picture by an artist called Samuel Koska which would have cost �300. I went round to Flask Walk to return the cheque and got the right amount. That’s how Hampstead was.”

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The gallery, named after Brews South African army codename, spawned another venue in the mid 2000s, Zebra Two, further up the road near the Holly Bush, to be managed by Brews’ daughter Gabrielle Du Plooy, at this point 26 and with a 12 year old son, who before then made her own name in the fashion and music scene of the late 90s and early 2000s

When Brews decided to retire around a year ago and move to Hong Kong, he was on first name terms with clients like Kazuo Ishiguro, Pierce Brosnan and John Le Carre (David Cornwell)(who Brews describes as “undemanding”) and had known Sting before he was famous. Du Plooy took the reins of Zebra One and began using her own contacts to make it into a rock photography gallery-a rock and roll corner of Hampstead. Even the gallery assistant, 20 year-old Rachel Howlett, herself an upcoming photographer, is the daughter of Prodigy musician Liam Howlett and All Saints singer Natalie Appleton- and can call Liam Gallagher her uncle.

“Thanks to my father I have been able to change the whole concept of the gallery. I’m really into music, I love musicians and I have always been into photography,” says Du Plooy. “I have to be always active, always changing and always doing cool things. Luckily I’m on the scene, so I have access to the new, upcoming things and well-known, spectacular photographers like Peter Webb and Dominique Tarle.”

The exhibit is half made up of work from Dominique Tarle, who spent a considerable amount of time with the band, including the six months they were recording Exile on Main Street in Villa Nellc�te, a seaside mansion in the south of France. The exhibition features five images from this period, including a portrait of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards opening boxes in the living room, while a cardboard cutout of Jagger propped up on the ornate mantle looks down on them. Renowned director and photographer Peter Webb’s contribution is a set of exclusive images from the ‘lost photoshoot’ that Webb shot during the Sticky Fingers era. Random Stones, one of the images available, is Webb’s favourite image from the shoot.

All this is evidence of Du Plooy’s vision: to bring exclusive works to Hampstead from top photographers. She points out a new image she has acquired, shot by Kate Garner. It’s a black and white of Kate Moss sat on the floor in a vest and men’s underpants. “I won’t do the norm. Kate Garner was very well known for Kate Moss with a teddy bear. It’s a very well known image. She knows the gallery and I approached her and said: ‘Kate, give me something exclusive. This is what I have got. I have the sole rights to that image- nowhere else in the world will you find that image,” says Du Plooy. Only a few days before I visit the gallery, the woman herself, along with husband Jamie Hince, was peering through the window.

As times move on, Ms Moss, Liam Gallagher, Denise Van Outen, Ricky Gervais and Gary Barlow are among the famous names that peer through the gallery window and come in to have a look.

A lot has changed around Hampstead. The free spirit of the Zebra Gallery remains.

Brown Sugar on Main Street, Photographs by Dominique Tarle and Peter Webb is open until January 26 at the Zebra Gallery, One Perrins Court, Hampstead.