10 Unmissable Highlights from #SkateboardExhibition
This exhibition. showcases innovative skateboards and components and tracks how skateboarders have taken over sidewalks, swimming pools and skate parks.. explore our 10 unmissable highlights below.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Vert becomes the dominant skateboarding method; the exciting spectacle helps the sport gain a significant following. The shape of the skateboards adapts to a fiercer skating style. The ‘Pig’ skateboards of the late 1970s evolve, as wider boards allow more speed and power for the skater. Experimentation with modified board shapes responds to the creativity and individuality of the vert skater style. Vert skater Tony Hawk is one of the most recognisable names within skateboarding. His first pro model is on display in the exhibition.
Skip Engblom and Kent Sherwood design a semi-flexible moulded plastic deck, which is available in a variety of colours. These decks are skated by the legendary Zephyr team nurtured by Engblom and Sherwood. Though known as the ‘Z-Boys’, this teenage skate team includes one girl, Peggy Oki. Their fame and the deck’s affordability help this model become popular in the USA and UK.
Blueprint launches in 1995 under Faze 7 distribution, further advancing the UK skateboard scene's distinct aesthetic, and propelling its riders to a global audience, via videos like Waiting For The World and Lost & Found. The KRS-ONE deck is an example of the stylish, hip-hop-inspired graphic language created by Dan Magee for the company in its early years. Blueprint continues to inform and inspire modern UK skateboarding, in terms of design, style and video production.
The first modern indoor skatepark had been built in Florida, USA in 1976. In the UK, the revived success of this imported activity attracts the interest of business developers and entrepreneurs, keen to commercialise the burgeoning demand for all things skateboarding. In 1977 Skate City opens, sited behind HMS Belfast on the Southbank, just west of Tower Bridge; it is London’s first skatepark.
In the 1980s Tim Leighton-Boyce plays a key role in promoting skateboarding in the UK. TLB worked in the Brompton Road branch of Alpine Sports, which specialised in American imported skateboarding. He sets up the Alpine Sports newsletter, before going on to photograph for BMX Action Bike and spearheading its transition into RAD magazine. The Alpine Sports adverts were often many pages long; packed with product information, the photography style fetishises skateboards and skate hardware and is responsible for the ignited passion in the young skaters of the 1980s.
Professional skateboarders increase in number, and they can make a significant income from sales of pro model boards. New shapes and styles are dictated by pro skaters looking for a commercially successful model. Distinctive skateboard shapes become an exercise of expressing identity, of both pro skaters and skate companies, rather than being constructed for practical advantage. Vision’s ‘Psycho Stick’ is an example of an iconic 1980s board graphic style and shape, it can be spotted on the INXS record, also on display in the exhibition.
Slam City Skates is London’s most celebrated skate shop. It opens on Talbot Road in Notting Hill in 1986, a year after its founder—freestyle skateboarder Paul Sunman—featured on this cover of San Diego's Transworld Skateboarding, shot in London by London-based skate photographer Dobie Campbell.
1992 sees the arrival of two new magazines—Slap and Big Brother—that would exemplify this era of skateboarding as street skating brings an explosion of fresh skating styles, board set-ups, deck graphics and subcultural energy. The unruly Big Brother magazine is founded by Steve Rocco and issue six comes with a special-edition cereal box with a variety of surprise free gifts, including a single bolt from the soon-to-be huge Shorty's brand.
At the start of the 1990s, there is a shift in graphic imagery on the board’s underside. Gone are the skulls and monsters of the 1980s, as the new generation of skateboarders look further to art, politics and culture to express their individuality. Matt Hensley does a demo in a church in Scotland which inspires his famous Stained Glass graphic. These previously unseen photos show the window that featured on untold numbers of decks, t-shirts and stickers.
Image photography by Felix Speller.