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John Claridge’s Clowns (Act One)

February 11, 2013
by the gentle author

I invited Contributing Photographer John Claridge along to the 67th Annual Grimaldi Service at Holy Trinity Church in Dalston last weekend to take a set of clown portraits, as a complement to his fine series of boxers. We were guests of Clowns International, the world’s oldest clown club founded in 1947, and John set up a studio in a quiet corner where we spent a memorable afternoon, entertained by a procession of cheery funsters sufficient to brighten the grimmest February day.

Jolly Jack – Clowning for thirty-six years.

Joe Sammy – Third generation clown, grandson of Mickell the Clown.

Uncle Colin – Clowning for thirty-six years. In partnership with Mr Woo as The Custard Clowns.

Glory B & Bernie (short for Bernadette) – Performing for twenty-five years.

Rainbow – Clowning for seventeen years.

Slapstick – Clowning for twenty-four years, since the age of thirteen.

Tuppy – From Adelaide on a visit.

Tofu the Zany – Clowning for more than twenty-five years.

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

You might like to read my account

At the 65th Annual Grimaldi Service

or read these other Grimaldi stories

Celebrating Joseph Grimaldi

Joseph Grimaldi, Clown

and take a look at more pictures by John Claridge

John Claridge’s East End

Along the Thames with John Claridge

At the Salvation Army with John Claridge

In a Lonely Place

A Few Diversions by John Claridge

This was my Landscape

John Claridge’s Spent Moments

Signs, Posters, Typography & Graphics

Working People & a Dog

Invasion of the Monoliths

Time Out with John Claridge

Views from a Dinghy by John Claridge

People on the Street & a Cat

In Another World with John Claridge

A Few Pints with John Claridge

A Nation Of Shopkeepers

Some East End Portraits by John Claridge

Sunday Morning Stroll with John Claridge

John Claridge’s Cafe Society

Graphics & Graffiti

Just Another Day With John Claridge

At the Salvation Army in Eighties

John Claridge’s Darker Side

John Claridge’s Lighter Side

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round One)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Two)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Three)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Four)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Five)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Six)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Seven)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Eight)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Nine)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Ten)

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Matt Johnson permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Love them, especially Jolly Jack! What a fine complimentary series to the pugilists.

  2. Lee permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Beautiful shots of these characters, and I love the gorgeous subtle tones.

    Thank you.


  3. February 11, 2013

    What utterly wonderful portraits of the clowns, these would make such a lovely series of postcards or prints.

  4. rosie permalink
    February 11, 2013

    These are very beautiful portraits – i wish there were more. It’s such a treat to see the individualism of these people/characters as expressed through their make -up and spirit.

  5. February 11, 2013

    And behind the make up who knows what you might find. Tofu the clown is also Tony Allen one of the pioneers of Alternative Comedy, and a regular at Speakers Corner too!

  6. Marien de Goffau permalink
    February 11, 2013

    All so different, so personal, so emotional, so nice, and each clown is telling his or her story. Or is it music? A story in photography and music in the act?

  7. simon meyrick-jones permalink
    February 11, 2013

    Fantastic!The colour is extraordinary and the images have an almost hallucinatory clarity
    which brings out the individual characters of the clowns.Just wonderful

  8. February 11, 2013

    Great series John, Even under the makeup the personalities come through. Loved Tuppy and big scary Tofu… G

  9. February 11, 2013

    Was it ever possible to match clowns with boxers? Or perhaps make-up the boxers and remove the slap from the faces of the clowns, dressing them in shorts instead?

    Wonderful portraits, John. Thank you.

  10. David Drakes permalink
    February 14, 2013

    Well, would you believe it?! . . . has JC’s lens gone crazy?! . . . colour?! . . . what will his pugilistic friends make of it?! . . . or is he just clowning around between bouts?!!!

  11. Olga Secerov permalink
    February 16, 2013

    these are really extraordinary photographs and extraordinary people. really unique.

  12. Carol Bosworth permalink
    February 18, 2013

    ,lovely shots, I love the texture you have on the makeup ,how it changes the colour and look of the clowns . Wonderful.wish I could have been there .

  13. Catherine permalink
    February 28, 2013

    John, I cannot imagine being amongst all these clowns. I look for my favourite, it is hard, maybe Tuppy, or Snoozy, or Mr Woo for his eyes. We have all been clowning, they bring tears to my eyes (I should be laughing). You found and got to know them – in only an afternoon!

  14. March 18, 2013

    Thank you so much for including my picture, John. I really had no idea what to expect when you took our photographs, but the results are superb. You made the day at Dalston een more special! Best regards from Adelaide, Tuppy & Stephen.

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