The Circus is coming!
A word from John Maitland about his exhibition:
Just over a year ago Maria Aitken and I were discussing the circus. She suggested that I paint it.
I thought she was joking! I was concerned that it would be difficult to do without the cheesiness and competing with the likes of Chagall, Picasso or Rousseau was somewhat intimidating. Today the circus has changed – some don’t even have animals anymore... but Maria had an unwavering faith in me to rise to the challenge.
The memories of the travelling fairs of my chilhood came flooding back. Once a year, in the height of summer, the Town Moor would fill with gypsies, fairground people and an array of exotic animals for the annual fair, known locally as the Hoppings.
For me the circus is about grand spectacle, showmanship, drama, theatre, mystery and intrigue where everything is larger than life and every act has to be the greatest in the world; acrobats, trapeze artists, fortune tellers, clowns and even those who can converse with the wild beasts!
By day it’s children eating hot dogs, ice creams, candy floss. It’s the fairground smells, camel rides, elephant feeding, coconut shies and freak shows. At night it’s a blaze of neon lights and carousels, spruikers, fortune tellers, gypsies, exotic creatures and enticing smells.... and the anticipation.
For me the excitement of the circus was all in the anticipation. These are the elements in my new work.
As a young boy I had a job at the fairground looking after the horses and taking people for their ride around the Moor. My wages were a 30 minute ride at the end of the day……worth every minute!
I had always wanted to experience a truly Australian circus so recently I spent time with Rodriguez, owner and ringmaster of the fabulous Ashton Brother’s Circus when it visited our area. This has been invaluable in the preparation of my exhibition.