Friday, 16 September 2016

Grunts & Grapples!

Yesterday evening, I was invited to the opening of a new exhibition at the Tunbridge Wells Museum. Grunts and Grapples is an exhibition which celebrates the popularity of live and televised wrestling from the 1950's up until the 1990's.

"Greetings Grapple Fans" was the opening line by Kent Walton, the wrestling commentator on ITV's World of Sport, first broadcast on the new ITV in 1955 up to 1989 with audiences peaking at twelve million!

Wrestling was a central part of British national life in this period with iconic figures such as Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy appearing in hundreds of UK town halls and theatres night after night as well as featuring on TV. Through posters, photographs, souvenirs and costumes, the exhibition reveals the origins of wrestling’s interplay of sport and spectacle and the development of personas.
The exhibition features the original costumes of the legendary wrestlers Big Daddy and Adrian Street together with a mask from the mysterious Kendo Nagasaki. A Pathé film from 1964 showing women’s wrestling at the Victoria Hall, Hawkhurst is shown, alongside posters and programmes.
Also featuring in the exhibition is So Many Ways To Hurt You, The Life and Times of Adrian Street, 2010; a film by Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller.
The show is curated by Kerry William Purcell, writer, theorist and historian. He has written and published books on art director and designer Alexey Brodovitch, photographer Weegee, and Josef Muller-Brockmann, all published by Phaidon. He is a Senior Lecturer in Design History at the University of Hertfordshire.

Exhibition design and graphics is by Jess Harris.
The exhibition runs until January and entry is free.
Posted by Justin Hobson 16.09.2016

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