The Art of Roller Skating exhibition

Debby Besford - Art of Roller Skating exhibition

I’m not surprised people are discovering the therapeutic effects of skating on mental health. Since the pandemic there’s been a huge rise in interest in roller skating which seems to be gaining even more momentum now we’re free to mingle.

From jam skating (dance meets skating) to street skating, there are all manner of niche roller skater communities cropping up that bring people together and allow them to offload their mental and physical stress.

One type of skating that hasn’t been given so much attention lately is ‘artistic roller skating’. Photographer Debby Besford a former skater and national skating judge has spent the last five years documenting the young female artistic roller skaters of Great Yarmouth, a place that has significant history in roller skating culture. Her portraits of these seven skaters in their bedrooms and living rooms have just finished showing in Great Yarmouth and got such a tremendous response are now on display at the Museum of Youth Culture pop-up in London’s Coal Drops Yard.

Debby Besford Art of Roller Skating exhibition
Art of Roller Skating Debby Besford
Debby Besford Art of Roller Skating exhibition
Art of Roller Skating exhibition

Photographed out of the rink, we can see the soft power held by the young skaters. Their bedazzled costumes and bulbous tights-encased skates belie a shy strength that’s emphasised by the female gaze of Besford’s camera. Alongside Besford’s fantastic photography are vitrines displaying costumes, skates and historical skating ephemera. In particular I loved the old photos and a letter from 90-something British Champion skater Jocelyn Taylor (below), proving the enduring appeal of this graceful sport.

Jocelyn Taylor champion skater
Art of Roller Skating exhibition

The Art of Roller Skating exhibition is at 5 Coal Drops Yard, London N1C 4DQ until 26th June.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Debby Besford; Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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