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Flying High: New Circus in Bristol
Flying High is the culmination of more than two years' work by Bristol photographer Monica Connell. During this time she has photographed all the leading performances and performers on the Bristol New Circus scene. Circomedia and The Invisible Circus feature strongly and Circomedia Artistic Director Bim Mason has written both a foreword and a timeline to place Connell's stunning photography in the context of the New Circus movement. This movement is centred on Bristol and has made the city a centre of excellence for the art form.
Connell started photographing circus in 2005 at Giffords, a small select and highly regarded circus which tours the Cotswolds in the summer, putting up its Big Top on village greens throughout the area and attracting audiences from all over the country. She quickly developed a love of circus photography and soon found herself photographing surreal, interactive all-night circus parties such as The Invisible Circus production of Carney Ville where ghosts walk down walls, lampposts explode and prostitutes beckon from the shadows of a crowded courtyard of a semi-derelict Victorian fire and police station.
Circomedia Artistic Director Bim Mason, one of the founders of the Bristol New Circus movement, places the art form in the context of Thatcher's Britain in the 80s when travellers were forced into the city after a series of conflicts with the Police - most notably The Battle of the Beanfield. Set against the backdrop of The Miners' Strike, the new age travellers found themselves at the centre of a radical art and music scene in Bristol where the influences of New York Hip Hop, mixed with punk and reggae on a free party scene that gave rise to the likes of Massive Attack and eventually Banksy.
Flying High is a fantastic photographic work which also includes interviews with many of the featured performers. It is large format (245mmx 245mm) and is printed on high-quality 170gsm paper.