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