Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Angus Stew­art spent ten years back­stage with London’s bur­lesque com­mu­ni­ty, get­ting to know the per­form­ers and doc­u­ment­ing their shared world to cre­ate what he calls ​‘a fam­i­ly album’. From the begin­ning, Angus’s focus was on the per­son­al­i­ties, rather than the per­for­mances. He delib­er­ate­ly eschews the ​‘big reveal’. Instead, his pho­tographs cap­ture the friend­ships, the laugh­ter and the cama­raderie that char­ac­terize the bur­lesque scene. We are intro­duced to a thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ty that val­ues ded­i­ca­tion and loy­al­ty, and where the exot­ic is always laced with humour; and we hear from per­form­ers Belle de Beau­voir, Cerise Rei, Lady Cheek, Lady May, and Lynn Ruth Miller. Bur­lesque can be provoca­tive, it can be polit­i­cal, and it can be seri­ous. But it can also be a lot of fun. ‘I dis­cov­ered that while some per­form­ers earn a liv­ing from bur­lesque, most have oth­er jobs – any­thing from seam­stress­es to doc­tors, to com­pa­ny direc­tors. This huge melt­ing pot of pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ence, cou­pled with a vari­ety of rea­sons for want­i­ng to per­form, means that per­son­al devel­op­ment is encour­aged. It’s an incred­i­bly sup­port­ive com­mu­ni­ty, and I want­ed to try to cap­ture that spir­it.’ – Angus Stewart

Why a physical book?

We could put all this material on a website, or post it on Instagram. But where’s the fun in that? When was the last time you thumbed through a  website, or turned down the corner of a webpage, or stuck a postcard in  as a bookmark? Books are cultural artifacts in their own right – they  are greater than the sum of their content. And the content in this case is pretty remarkable. It represents ten years of observing, reflecting and photographing. Get a copy, keep it on your desk or by your bed, dip into  it, show it to your friends, enjoy it and be inspired. Printed on fine art paper, LONDON BURLESQUE – A FAMILY ALBUM will be an  aesthetic object in its own right. 

About Angus Stewart

Angus Stewart is a London-based photographer, whose focus is on social documentary photography and portraiture. He has spent ten years working closely with the circus, burlesque and cabaret communities in London, getting to know the performers, photographing and interviewing them. His aim has been to depict not just the public performance on stage, but also the backstage life, and the personalities of the artists, families and communities that support them.

Recent work has included photographing grass roots activists in London and Salvador in conjunction with the UCL and UFBA, ‘Rights to The City’ project. He is also working on a personal project, ‘With Love Jeannette’ – a collection of found documents, photographs, and new images related to events from the early-twentieth century – which addresses the fragmentary nature of history and knowledge and the continuity of human experience.

About Circa Press

Circa is a youthful, experimental press, rooted in a wealth of publishing experience. They are working with authors, artists, designers and photographers who are passionate about what they do. Often these artists are pioneers – mavericks and risk takers – whose creative instincts can be provocative. Circa values these collaborations, and aims to reflect a spirit of adventure in publications with the highest editorial and production values. Circa’s program embraces all aspects of ‘visual culture’, which means anything aesthetically significant that intrigues or excites them. Above all, they are motivated by powerful images and  compelling ideas. And they love making beautiful books!

LONDON BURLESQUE – A FAMILY ALBUM will be produced as a hardback book in a numbered edition of 1,000 copies

Order it HERE.

  • Format – 25 x 20cm (10 x 8 in)
  • 152 pages, including 16 gatefolds
  • Approx. 50 black and white images
  • Printed on 150gsm fine art paper 
  • First edition of 1,000 signed and numbered copies
  • Pledge for an exclusive SIGNED COPY from just £50
  • Books will ship in November 2022 from distribution centres in the UK and US

*Note: shipments to European countries may incur additional customs charges and taxes beyond our control