Back in 1970 when the last of a trio of Isle of Wight Festivals was staged at Afton, amongst the throng of people out on the Downs was a young man by the name of John Giddings.

Fast forward 32 years and the same man, now fronting The Solo Agency. would eventually be recognised as the brains behind the present-day incarnations.

For that inaugural event of the new era, the Isle of Wight Council would lose half a million pounds. With John at the helm for the 2003 edition, the event again lost about the same amount of money, only this time it was John’s own money, not the council’s.

As he recalled, observers doubted he would be able to make the festival a success. Behind his back. these doubters were ridiculing his decision. However, John was to have the last laugh. For 2004 he brought in The Who and David Bowie as headliners and that was the turning point.

John made comment that today the festivals operate in a different world to that of 1970, when things were more simple and certainly less costly.

To mark 21 years of the modern-day Isle of Wight Festival, Dimbola Museum and Galleries at Freshwater Bay, has refreshed and extended its commemorative exhibition of these events.

On Friday night, the new exhibition was given its official launch. Dr. Brian Hinton, MBE, Chairman of the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust, welcomed guests. He thanked the Dimbola team for setting up the exhibition and praised the sponsors and John Giddings for his invaluable support over the years.

John said there would be no modern festival if it was not for Ray Faulk who, with his two brothers, masterminded those early stagings.  For his part Ray said he felt very humble because John had put on 20 shows, he had only staged 3.  Looking back, Ray thought it was bizarre, that the County Press failed to report the coming to the Island of the great Bob Dylan in 1969.

This new exhibition features photographs covering the IW festival as well as posters. A number of the photographs portraying artistes performing at Seaclose Park were taken by the island’s own Chris Cornford, staff photographer for the Isle of Wight Observer.

Continuing until  17th September this Summer exhibition is a must see for anyone interested in the artistes who have performed here.