Es Circ text

Es Circ

1768        Philip Astley inaugura el primer circ, Lambeth, Londres
1772        El circ d’Astley a França
1773        Astley a Dublin, Irlanda
1780        El circ d’Astley a Londres sostrat
1782        Charles Hughes inaugura el “Royal Circus”, Londres. - Astley inaugura el Amphitheatre Anglois, Paris, també a Belgrade, Brussels i Vienna
1786           Primers artistes de circ  arriben a Mèxic.
1793        El circ de Hughes a Rússia. - John Bill Ricketts d’Anglaterra inaugura el circ a Philadelphia i Nova York.  - El circ de Benito Guerre a Espanya.
1795        Circ d’Astley és cremà
1797        Primer circ a Canadà
1800        Primer circ a Catalunya, Teatre de la Santa Creu, Barcelona
1802        Primer circ a Mèxic, Philip Lailson
1803        Circ d’Astley és cremà una altra vegada!
1815        Primer elefant de circ, ‘Old Bet’ de Hackaliah Bailey, New England, EU.
1818        Primera il.luminació per gas.
1824        Andrew Ducrow compra el circ d’Astley
1825        J. Purdy Brown (EU) primer ‘Big Top’ (envelat)
1826        Aaron Turner (EU) circ amb Big Top (envelat)
1827        Primer circ argentí.
1830        Circ Bragassi a Brazil
1831        Henri Martin (EU) primer circ amb animals salvatges.
1834        Primer pallasso argentí -Pedro Sotora, "el hombre incombustible"
1841        Primer circ a Austràlia
1843        Primera desfilada de circ, Edwin Hughes,“Hughes’ Mammoth Equestrian Establishment”  (Anglaterra)
1852        Cirque d'Hiver a París
1832        Sanger Circus (Anglaterra)
1852        Cirque d'Hiver a Paris
1853        Primer circ fix a Barcelona (Camps Elisis)
1855        George and William Pinder (Anglaterra) obre Cirque Pinder (França)
1858        Amelia Butler (EU) primera pallassa
1859        J Léotard (Francia) inventa el trapezi.
1864        Circ de Richard Risley  (E.U) a Yokohama, el Japó
1866        "The Japan Imperial Artistes' Company" (artistes del Japó)    a E.U.
1869        Circ Chiarini a Argentina
1871        Museu, col.lecció de fires i circ de P T Barnum
1872        Barnum & Bailey tren de circ.
1881      Primer circ de tres pistes.
1884        Ringlig Circus  EU.  -  Circus Busch (Alemania)
1888        Circo Atayde Hermanos, Mèxic
1885        Mort de Jumbo - atropellat per un tren
1903        Hanneford Royal Canadian Circus
1904        Circus Krone de Alemania
1907        Ringling Bros. compra Barnum and Bailey
1916        "Toyo gigei taikai Otake musume kyokuba", Circ de dones, el Japó
1919        Circ de Ringling Bros. i Barnum and Bailey
1921         Circ alemàn a Amèrica del sud
1923        Envelat de circ més gros (8.492 m2)
1927        Universitat de circ de USSR
1929        Ringling Bros. compra American Circus Corp.  Bertrum Mills Circus (Anglaterra)
1939        Primer envelat refrigerat, Ringling Bros. (E.U)
1944        Ringling incendi 168 morts
1946        Billy Smart’s circus (Anglaterra)
1947        Karl Wallenda inventa el piràmidede de set gent.
1956        Ringling Brothers i Barnum & Bailey Show tanca.
1968        Ringlig Bros.and Barnum & Bailey Col.legi de pallassos
1978         Circus Oz (Australia)
1984        Cirque du Soleil Circ, Rauly (França)
1985        l'Ecole Supérieure des Arts du Cirque, Châlons-sur-Marne (França)


 

The Circus

    As a child I was never fond of the circus.  They were either frightening - sinister clowns, loud bangs, strange people, camels that spat at you;  boring - the long wait for it to begin, the endless trampoline act;  or disappointing - the mud, depressed apes, “Princess Rhona the Rodent-woman”  a middle-aged lady in a cage full of guinea-pigs.  The mixed emotions must have had a strong effect on me because it is only now, as an adult, that I look back with nostalgia (tinged with a certain horror) at an entertainment and way of life that is more or less dead.

    It is often thought that the history of the circus goes back centuries if not millennia, its roots lost in the distant past.  In fact, although there have always been acrobats, clowns and jugglers entertaining crowds at fairs and markets, the beginnings of the circus can be traced to London in 1768.

    In 1768 Philip Astley a retired sergent-major from the British cavalry started a riding school, just south of the river Thames, in London.  Each afternoon, for a small fee, he put on a display of trick riding.  This became very popular with a crowd eager for novelty, and by 1770 Astley had hired a specialist comic actor (“Mr Merryman”) and persuade his wife give a musical accompaniment on the drum.  Thus was born “Astley’s Amphitheatre”, the first circus.  The equestrian acts required a circular ring for the hoses to gallop round, and it was soon found that the optimum diameter for this was about 14m (at this size a person standing on the back of a fast moving horse will be helped to stay on by centrifugal force, any bigger or smaller and balancing becomes more difficult).  The circus ring has remained this size ever since,  and this is one of the reasons that when larger circuses started to tour they were made bigger by adding extra rings rather than just enlarging the existing one.

    Soon Astley began to take his circus to other countries; Ireland, Belgium, France (where, in 1782, he inaugurated a permanent circus - the Amphitheatre Anglois in Paris).  A rival business soon began in London, the “Royal Circus” (the first use of the name) under the management of Charles Hughes.  Hughes introduced the circus to the court of Catherine the Great in Russia, and John Bill Ricketts, one of his employees in London, left to start circuses in the United States and Canada in 1793.  The same year Benito Guerre, presumably from Astley’s circus in Paris was touring with an equestrian show in Spain.

    From Spain and the United States circuses spread to the Caribbean, Central and Southern America.  The circus became one of the camp followers of European colonial expansion, with entrepreneurs taking the spectacle to Africa, India, China, Australia, Japan and the Pacific. In each place inspiring local artists to make their own local versions, so by the middle of the nineteenth century the circus was a world wide phenomenon.

    It was in the United States that the circus developed into what we are all familiar with today. In Europe circuses performences were in theatres or specially built arenas, in the young America there were much fewer facilities and generally the shows were put on in the open air.   That is until 1825 when  J. Purdy Brown designed the first circus tent, or “big top”.  The first circus elephant began its tour around the small towns of America as early as 1815.  Owned by Hackaliah Bailey, “Old Bet” was eventually shot early one morning by a group of men who objected to it being displayed on Sunday (by contrast, its successor ,“Little Bet”, who could do various tricks, was shot by some youths testing the showman’s claim that no bullet could pierce it’s skin).  Exotic animals were a big draw and after 1831, when Henry Martin started touring with a wild animal show, the menagerie became a fixed feature of the circus.

    P.T. Barnum was the classic circus entrepreneur.  He saw the potential of the new network of railways to move much larger and spectacular shows around the country.  He combined the circus show with exhibits from his museum of curiosities to make  an enormous spectacle.  Overnight small isolated towns would find hugh tents erected and the streets filled with clowns, acrobats, wild animals, giants, dwarfs, human oddities and performing dogs.  Then just as quickly it would be gone.  Vast fortunes were made and as quickly lost.  The unfortunate combination of canvas and wooden buildings and oil or gas lighting meant that fires were common and a whole show could be destroyed in minutes - Astley’s Amphitheatre burned down three times in its first 62 years of history, and the terrible Ringling fire in 1944 (started by the serial murderer and arsonist Robert Dale Segee), that killed 168 people is one of the landmarks in the decline of the circuses popular appeal. 

    In reality the travelling performer’s life was uncertain, uncomfortable and on occasions rather short, but despite this an atmosphere of romance and excitement grew up around the idea of the circus.  The combination of sexual titillation and exoticism of the shows, and  the lure of the freedom from the boring and stultifying small town society was to much for many.  Running away to join the circus became not just fantasy and a motif in literary romances and plays, but a reality for many young country boys.  It is the strange life of the circus people - the mixture of glamour and squalor, excitement and ennui, and the closed but close and fluid communities that built up among them - that still hold a fascination for the majority of settled people.

    From its peak of popularity at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, the decline of the circus has been almost as dramatic as its rise.  The growth of other forms of popular entertainment, cinema, then radio and television, and changes in the sensibilities of the public, caused a gradual loss of enthusiasm for the circus.  With a more educated and sophisticated public there was a growing distaste for the exploitation of disabled or malformed people, and a more enlightened opinions on the mistreatment of animals, which led to the disappearance of the “freak show” and lately a call for the banning of animal acts.  Health and safety regulations, changing employment laws and rising costs all put pressure on circus owners and led to a flood of closures and bankruptcies.

    Circus has continually evolved and changed according to the demands of society.  In recent  years (apart from a few beleaguered touring companies) it has transformed to such an extent that it has become something completely different, its spirit irrevocably changed.  Its reinvention at the end of the last century, has changed the public expectations of circus entertainment irrevocably.  The so called “new circuses”, although using traditional circus acts, have lavish and themed productions that bare little relationship to the unsophisticated shows and leaking canvas tents of the past.  The growth of circus schools and workshops, and the teaching of  “circus skills” as a team building strategy for businesses or a form of new age therapy, is another sign of the fading of the mytique of the traditional travelling show.   No doubt the few old circuses left will continue to tour, adapting to the changing public mood and eaking out a living, but generally the era is over.

    Hence this exhibition.

            Andrew Pinder, Selva, agost 2005



Andrew Pinder
....was born in London in 1955.  He studied archaeology, first at the University of Wales and after at the University of London.  For some years he worked as an archaeologist in Britain, directing excavations on prehistoric sites and illustrating various archaeological publications.

In 1986 he moved with his wife to Mallorca and has lived since 1987 in Selva, where he works as a painter, illustrator and muralist.

His recent exhibitions include:
La comedia trágica o la trágica comedia de Mr Punch, Museu d`Art Contemporani de Mallorca, Sa Pobla. 2001
Es Jardí, Casal de Cultura, Selva. 2001
Los Rondalles Mallorquines, Selva. 2002
Sa Mina - les mines de carbó de Selva,  Es Centre, Selva. 2004
Es Circ,  Es Centre, Selva. 2005 


Cirque Pinder, the largest circus in France, was founded in 1855 by George and William Pinder who were equestrian performers from the same part of Yorkshire as my father’s family.  Sadly I have no idea if I am related to them, and as the Pinder family sold the circus in 1924, I fear have no prospect of inheriting the business.