The Swerling Circus of Small

This Christmas The Anthropologie Gallery, London, is holding a circus-themed Glass Cathedrals artbox exhibition. Please join me and my sparkly spangly Californian family for the opening party on the King's Rd on Thursday November 22nd, 2018. RSVP via Facebook and start sewing on sequins!

Growing up in Cape Town in the early 1980s, we’d go to Muizenberg Beach most days of the summer. We’d swim for hours and lie gossiping on the hot sand behind the beach huts, salty, tangle-haired, happy from too much sun.

So it was already paradise, and then one summer a circus arrived. They set up a stage on the grass behind the concrete toilets. At the end of every day they’d perform. The trapeze artists were the last act – a man and a woman dressed in tight white spangled leotards. Though it was the mid ’80s, and it smelled a bit of wee, in my mind’s eye their glamour is as timeless and intoxicating as old Hollywood. They stood on their platforms and dusted their hands, and then they flew through the air, catching each other again and again.

One afternoon towards the end of summer, the man lost his grip and fell. The safety net didn’t hold him, somehow. We held our breaths, but he didn’t bounce back up. He just lay on the ground, until eventually an ambulance came and took him away. The next day the grass behind the beach toilets was empty.

Since then I have sometimes thought that spangly white leotards could hold the key to all mystery, this one certainly, but also the mysteries of time, of beauty, desire, love, death and home. Or maybe late afternoon light is just magic, and can fix a moment to eternity. No matter, for me the man and woman will forever be flying, sparkling against an African sky.