Cumberland & Westmorland Wrestling isn't just a sport but part of local culture

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Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling is not just a sport but part of the local culture. As a result, for more than two hundred years the local wrestling was not only reported on the sports pages of contemporary newspapers, but was also a source of inspiration for artists seeking to crystalise a moment of action. Nowadays, a pressed button on a digital camera freezes such a moment, but two hundred years ago Thomas Bewick engraved the end grain of a boxwood block to show two wrestlers competing on an open hillside. Woodblocks were also used in the local press and for frontispieces of wrestling books in the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Wrestling generated trophies, and the engraver's art was applied to silverware. Cartoonists for the London magazines captured the atmosphere at Grasmere Sports or the Easter London Wrestling at Islington. There have been figurines, oil and water-colour paintings and even a proggy mat.

Richard Dixon v Andrew Carlile 'Wrestlers' by Annabelle SmithAndrew Carlile v John Harrington
(Images copyright Annabelle Smith)

 

That long tradition has been continued in some of the art of Annabelle Smith whose work is part of an Exhibition of Art and Sculpture at the Gin Case, Mawbray between Silloth and Allonby. Her three-dimensional work dramatically captures the power and tension of two wrestlers in holds, whilst her paintings pick up on the flow and balletic quality that good wrestlers can give to the tough business of throwing a reluctant opponent down to the ground. The exhibition is open from Saturday, 25 th April until Friday, June 5 th .

The CWWA team for the European Championships has been reduced to five, when Sam Wilkinson withdrew. This means that there is no hope of winning the team trophy but we have a very strong contingent of wrestlers who will be among the main contenders for individual medals in this toughest of competitions.

Anyone who wishes to support the team should be in the East Kilbride Sports Centre on Friday 24 th April. The first bouts will begin at 10.30am until lunch and then the official opening ceremony will take place at 2pm followed by five hours of wrestling. On Saturday 25 th April the wrestling begins at 12.30pm and continues for several hours.

Also on Saturday 25th April, Milnthorpe Open Night 7.30pm at the Milnthorpe Junior Football Pavilion U12/U15/U18/13/AW

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (February 10th 2011)

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