The exhibition was held at the Indica Gallery, in the basement of the Indica Bookshop in Mason’s Yard, just off Duke Street in Mayfair, London. The Indica was co-owned by John Dunbar, Peter Asher and Barry Miles, and was supported in its early years by Paul McCartney.
John Lennon said:
“There was a sort of underground clique in London; John Dunbar, who was married to Marianne Faithfull, had an art gallery in London called Indica, and I’d been going around to galleries a bit on me off days in between records, also to a few exhibitions in different galleries that showed sort of unknown artists or underground artists.
I got the word that this amazing woman was putting on a show the next week, something about people in bags, in black bags, and it was going to be a bit of a happening and all that. So I went to a preview the night before it opened. I went in – she didn’t know who I was or anything – and I was wandering around. There were a couple of artsy-type students who had been helping, lying around there in the gallery, and I was looking at it and was astounded. There was an apple on sale there for two hundred quid; I thought it was fantastic – I got the humor in her work immediately. I didn’t have to have much knowledge about avant-garde or underground art, the humor got me straightaway. There was a fresh apple on a stand – this was before Apple – and it was two hundred quid to watch the apple decompose. But there was another piece that really decided me for-or-against the artist: a ladder which led to a painting which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a black canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. This was near the door when you went in. I climbed the ladder, you look through the spyglass and in tiny little letters it says ‘yes’. So it was positive. I felt relieved. It’s a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn’t say ‘no’ or ‘fuck you’ or something, it said ‘yes’.
I was very impressed and John Dunbar introduced us – neither of us knew who the hell we were, she didn’t know who I was, she’d only heard of Ringo, I think, it means apple in Japanese.
And Dunbar had sort of been hustling her, saying, ‘That’s a good patron, you must go and talk to him or do something.’ John Dunbar insisted she say hello to the millionaire. And she came up and handed me a card which said ‘breathe’ on it, one of her instructions, so I just went [pant]. This was our meeting.
Then I went up to this thing that said, ‘Hammer a nail in.’ I said, ‘Can I hammer a nail in?’ and she said no, because the gallery was actually opening the next day. So the owner, Dunbar, says, ‘Let him hammer a nail in.’ It was, ‘He’s a millionaire.
He might buy it,’ you know. She’s more interested in it looking nice and pretty and white for the opening. That’s why she never made any money on the stuff; she’s always too busy protecting it!
So there was this little conference and she finally said, ‘OK, you can hammer a nail in for five shillings.’
So smart-ass here says, ‘Well, I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.’ And that’s when we really met. That’s when we locked eyes and she got it and I got it and that was it.”