Hot Codlins & a Quartern of Gin

These images are from a series of wet plate collodion portraits entitled "Hot Codlins and a Quartern of Gin". They were created with the same process used by photographers in the mid to late nineteenth century. With the help of Clowns International I spent two days at "Circus, Circus!" at Butlins in Bognor Regis, cornering real, working clowns from around the globe and making them stare for bald stretches of time into a large brass lens that first refracted light in 1860's Paris.

The collection's title, Hot Codlins and a Quartern of Gin, is snatched from music hall lyrics. The song, a rough, wink-one-eye ditty about an old apple vendor who keeps herself warm on nips of Mother's Ruin, was the signature song of the early 1800's clown- celebre, Joseph Grimaldi, considered the father of modern clowning. But these photographs aim to reference something more than the origins of the foam-rubber-nose profession. These paint-corrupted faces become archetypes of humanity (the Simpleton, the Lothario, the Spectre), each preoccupied with longing for his of her peculiar deficit.