That’s The Way To Do It: Hackney photographer Tom Hunter captures Punch and Judy Professors

Renowned Hackney photographer Tom Hunter has travelled the length and breadth of the country to capture Punch and Judy shows on film, for an exhibition to celebrate Mr Punch’s 350th birthday launching this Saturday (July 14).

The first recorded sighting in England of a Mr Punch puppet was made in 1662 in the diary of Samuel Pepys.

Now as part of a nationwide celebration, The Big Grin, the Museum of Childhood commissioned Hunter who lives in Eleanore Road for the photographic exhibition, That’s the way to do it!

Hunter dragged his wife and two young children along to the shows at every opportunity, and he even found the youngest Professor in the country, nine-year old Joseph Peek who performs at Southend-On-Sea beach.

Known since Victorian times as Professors, the one-man puppet show operators have captivated audiences and brought the story of Punch and Judy to life with their wit and personality.

“It’s a bizarre thing, Punch kills his baby every time, his wife moans about it so he kills her, he kills the copper and he gets eaten by a crocodile for his bad behaviour,” said Hunter.

“I went to one in Hampstead and there was woman sitting next to me whose face dropped to the floor when she realised what was being shown to her children - this man whacking the baby round the head and his wife came in and he whacked her round the head as well,” he laughed.

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“The children love it now, but it’s very un-pc, this is still a very violent country as we know when we read the Gazette or watch the news.

“It’s very similar to panto, this baudeville entertainment, and the audience participation with, “Oh yes he did, oh no he didn’t,” and the boos - I do love all that, it’s very strange to see.

“In some ways I get quite jealous, lots of these guys are retired and it’s a summer holiday job, they get to visit places on the seaside, it’s an old travelling showman tradition which I’m been fascinated by, like a gypsy tradition,” added Hunter.

The exhibition is on show at the museum in Cambridge Heath Road, Tower Hamlets until December 9.

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