Challenging, provoking, fighting back
Muvvers Pride, 1978
Muvvers Pride, sarcastically name after the brand of bread called Mother’s Pride, were an all-woman punk band who were said to make other punk bands sound like Abba (a group detested at the time by punk rockers). Muvvers Pride performed at Battersea Arts Centre on 16 March 1978.
The poster shows the influence of punk graphic design. The letters are uneven in size, and they mix lower and upper case. They capture the look of lettering that has been cut out from elsewhere and stuck on with glue.
Punk design was deliberately amateurish, the intention being to show that ‘anyone can do it’. In this is related to the punk aesthetic in music, which rarely demanded more than different three chords on guitar.
“On 4th June 1976, Gurdip Singh Chaggar, a 17-year old Sikh boy living in Southall, West London, fell victim to a racist murder. Out of the inferno surrounding his death, an Asian public presence emerged in Britain, with a variety of Asian civil liberties movements springing up in all the major British cities... and Tara Arts. (See BBC magazine article on Suresh Grover - one of the protesters against this murder)
“The company was founded by young Wandsworth residents - current Artistic Director Jatinder Verma, along with Sunil Saggar, Ovais Kadri, Praveen Bahl & Vijay Shaunak.
“Tara's inaugural production was Sacrifice - Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore's anti-war play. This production was staged on 25th August 1977 at Battersea Arts Centre with a clear mission - to make imaginative connections across cultures through theatre.
“In September 1983, Tara took possession of 356 Garratt Lane in Earlsfield, which has been its producing home ever since. On 1st September 2016, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan opened the renovated 356 Garratt Lane as Britain's first multicultural theatre - the new Tara Theatre.” – History of Tara Arts, from their website, accessed 28/8/2018 https://www.tara-arts.com/about-us/history
Allen Ginsberg (1926–97) was one of the most celebrated of the writers who were given the name the Beat Generation in the 1950s. His most famous work is the long protest poem ‘Howl’, published in 1956. It was a critique of capitalism and conformity, but its references to homosexuality prompted a trail for obscenity. Homosexuality was illegal at the time of is publication, but Californian court ruled that the poem was not obscene.
The poet Peter Orlovsky, who also appears at this event, was Ginsberg’s lifelong partner.
Ginsberg first visited London in 1965. His last appearance was in 1995, when he was filmed reading poetry and singing songs at Heaven nightclub.
A range of activities were programmed in conjunction with the Wandsworth Corporation, in the Grand Hall into the 1970s, including both boxing matches and wrestling, which were very popular.
Vic Faulkner was British Welterweight Wrestling Champion, 1973–77. He and Bert Royal fought as a tag wrestling team, sometimes using the name the Faulkner Brothers and sometimes the Royal Brothers. They won their fight on this particular evening, because they were never once defeated in the 1960s and 1970s. Cry Baby Cooper later changed his name to Cyanide Sid Cooper. He was a household name in wrestling, in the 1970s and 1980s.Johnny Kwango was a professional dancer with Les Ballet Negres company before turning to wrestling. Zoltan Boscik was Hungarian but had lived in England for more than twenty years. He was a lightweight wrestler who rarely broke the rules.
Margaret Harrison, 1978
Feminist artist Margaret Harrison made work at Battersea Arts Centre on several occasions. This show explored themes of women and work. She had made a piece a few years earlier, with Kay Hunt and Mary Kelly titled, "Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry 1973-1975", which is now in the Tate collection.