All of life is wrapped up in the big top.
The thrill of the circus as a child sticks in your memory and emerges again as an adult.
The anticipation of the event, the thrill of live performance where it seems life is on a knife-edge, as brightly coloured performers fly through the sky to the sounds of the circus band. The clowns come in allowing for a moment of ease and a surreal sense of comedy.
Elements of burlesque, commedia dell'arte, farce, gallows humour, parody, satire, and slapstick collectively influencing the development of modern clowns' performance and entertaining the young and old alike.
I lived in Great Yarmouth as a child and it has a permanent circus along the sea front. Every year as a works day out, I would go with my father and many other kids, I think one of my relatives was the ice cream lady! I can still remember the Pierrot clown in white tall hat and large trousers. Even his voice still echoes in my memory.
Performance has always been an attraction for me as it brings energy, life, colour, movement and the challenge of capturing a fleeting moment in a sketch or painting. No time to look at the paper, just draw to the rhythm of the movement and look later. This is then translated onto canvas using the installed memory of the sketchbook and the time spent with the performers.
I have sketched and painted at many circuses both in this country and India, sometimes spending a few days behind the scenes where day-to-day life goes on; watching the performers rehearse their juggling or acrobatic routines or just relaxing and waiting for the evening's performance.
The comparisons of the circus to everyday life are many and feed my paintings with a narrative I try and tell.
Life is a Circus
Paul Wadsworth, October 2018