When I was a boy a circus came to town. As a pipe smoking, tattooed clown dropped down off the first wagon and started to unload, people began to peek out from their manicured homes with wary curiosity. The lion was getting over a case of mange, so was his handler. The chorus girls’ tattered dresses were losing sequins like a snowstorm and nylons with runs and stains of indeterminate origin valiantly held back varicose veins. The big top, which was more like a patchwork quilt, was unfurled to expose its stripes that were so faded they were now only different shades of off-white. Amazon Alice had more warts than pre-kissed Prince Charming. Her hunch back hunched over to pick-pocket the strongman’s mickey of gin. As the elephant farted by the opening of the giant rusted cannon, the echo of cursing could be heard from the barrel where the human cannonball was shirtlessly sleeping off last night’s poker game. By the time the one-eyed, legless ring master was wheeled up the ramp of the barker’s platform to announce the ‘greatest show on earth’, there was already a line-up three blocks long. After all, circuses come to town all the time but a broken circus is a spectacle not to be missed.
I’m just about finished the photo series Broken Words. I decided to rephotograph two of the original 5 images and work on the other three to bring them up to my current style. The books were part of our collection of antiques that were damaged in a flood some years back. I’m so glad I kept them because this demonstrates my philosophy so well. Yes it was sad to lose their function as books, but allow yourself to appreciate their beauty in this state of decay and you will see that they are also something organic. The twists, curves and colour changes that resulted have taken their form from something man-made to natural and provide a metaphor for us. Our possessions, thoughts, way of life and words will someday be dissolved by the march of time. (click the image to see the gallery)