ROLL up, roll up... the great­est PHOTOSHOOT in town is here.

Irish Sunday Mirror - - STYLE ON SUNDAY - EX­CLU­SIVE BY VIKKI WHITE and LEWIS PAN­THER

From es­cape artists to acro­bats, clowns to gym­nasts and fire-eaters to con­tor­tion­ists, pho­tog­ra­pher Peter Lav­ery has seen them all and snapped them all.

In a re­mark­able new book and ex­hi­bi­tion, his work lifts the lid on life be­hind the Big Top.

It comes a timely 250 years af­ter Philip Ast­ley staged the first ever cir­cus and hot on the heels of the cin­ema block­buster The Great­est Show­man, star­ring Hugh Jack­man as leg­endary cir­cus king P. T. Bar­num. Lav­ery’s fan­tas­tic photo files have been com­piled over five decades. It all started when the miner’s son from Wake­field, West Yorks, saw Win­ships Mini­cir­cus per­form­ing at the Queen’s Hall in Leeds. Peter, 69, said: “That’s where it started. I be­gan to visit cir­cuses, beg­ging lifts and sleep­ing rough in trav­els that took me all over Bri­tain.

“I bed­ded down in fields, un­der wild an­i­mal wag­ons and some­times in them.

“Once, the most com­fort­able pal­let I could find proved to be the straw of an empty lion’s cage. The rich­ness and di­ver­sity of the lives of cir­cus peo­ple fas­ci­nated me. I was struck by the dis­par­ity be­tween the fin­ery, the se­quinned cos­tumes, the plumes, the elab­o­rate dis­play and the back­stage re­al­ity. I was en­thralled by the sounds and smells, but I had no idea that, for the best part of five decades, the cir­cus would cap­ture and hold my imag­i­na­tion.”

Peter’s ex­hi­bi­tion, Cir­cus Work, is part of a na­tion­wide cel­e­bra­tion to mark the 250-year mile­stone (cir­cus250.com).

It was in 1768, on waste­land near Lon­don’s Water­loo, that show­man, en­tre­pre­neur and eques­trian rider Philip Ast­ley did some­thing en­tirely new.

He put to­gether a se­ries of phys­i­cal acts – jug­glers, acro­bats, clowns, strong­men and bare­back rid­ers – and drew out the very first cir­cus ring. Ast­ley had cre­ated a whole new art form – this was the world’s first cir­cus. Peter, who has trav­elled the world on ad­ver­tis­ing

I’d beg lifts, slept rough and once even bed­ded down in a lion’s cage

PETER LAV­ERY

CIR­CUS SNAP­PER FOR 50 YEARS

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