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David Ellison’s Cumberland Westmorland wrestling photography


I first encountered David Ellisons photography by accident, a chance meeting with Jamie Lowe of Imperial and Standard and subsequent rambling discussion about our home county of Cumbria. Jamie mentioned a friend, David, who was conducting a photography project, Tek Hod, documenting Cumberland Westmorland wrestling. I was more excited than you may imagine by this.

Our local style of folk wrestling formed part of Cherchbi’s very early inspiration. The sight of strong men (and women) taking part in this physical, contact sport incongruously dressed in beautifully hand-embroidered velvet trunks and vests is fascinating, to me at least. So too is the sport’s local heritage, and the deep-rooted passion that extends through generations of wrestling families.

My first attempt to contact David failed, an email lost in a spam folder I imagine. I was reminded of his work again after reading Alex Jackson’s piece in Port magazine. We met and   immediately struck up another rambling conversation; the documentation of rural and folk culture, wrestling, Herdwick sheep (obviously) and Cumbria in general.

My first idea to connect Herdwyck bags with Cumberland Westmorland wrestling didn’t see the light of day. A single pocket inside each bag made in velvet rather that cotton lining and hand embroidered with a design based on a local fern. I actually had 20 of these patch pockets made with the original brand name Atkynson, this name was rejected soon after in favour of Cherchbi, the velvet panels placed into our archive, a costly sampling exercise. Now, having met David and been entirely captivated by the quality and content of his work, a second opportunity to connect Cumbrian tradition with Cherchbi presents itself.

We’re discussing ideas for a combined project, perhaps this year or next. A certainty though is that a selection of David’s Tek Hod images will be displayed alongside our Herdwyck bags at designjunction in London, Sept 18 – 22 2013. A date for your diary.

David’s work is produced in very limited editions, no more than eight I believe, and is available to purchase. Please contact us or him directly for further details. Do allow for a slight delay in reply, David is currently in Iceland photographing the Icelandic version of the sport, Glima wrestling.