Sideshow is an exhibition of drawings and poetry by Will Burns and Jason Butler exploring the lives of the people in and around the fairgrounds and penny gaffs of an older England; the transformative effect of the carnival, voyeurism and the human body as a commodity of display. Jersey based artist Jason Butler’s ink drawings present the myriad of personalities to be found in circus’, fairgrounds and carnivals, from strongmen, bearded women, strippers, and exotic oddities, while Will Burns’ poetry gives voice to the faces, creating a dream-like vision of English show-business’ colourful and murky past.
Don’t miss out on this unique preview event at Roughtrade this Thursday 21st April @ 7pm featuring an edited selection of Jason Butler’s drawings from the exhibition, a specially curated list of books and CDs that helped inspire the work, and live music on the opening night with a poetry reading from Will Burns.
Jason Butler is a professional artist based in Jersey, Channel Islands and has most recently had work exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery.
‘The drawings seen in ‘Sideshow’ form a part of a large body of work produced over several years. Featuring figures proudly displaying their idiosyncrasies – attention seekers, voyeurs, hobbyists, exhibitionists – the response of the viewer to these images is of major interest to me. I am fascinated at how the simple act of making marks on paper, using what is in most cases fairly benign imagery, can cause such diverse reactions.’
Will Burns was born in London in 1980 and raised in Buckinghamshire. He formed the band Treecreeper with his brother in 2005 with whom he has released two studio albums. As a writer, his work focuses on intimate portraits of the kind of semi-rural life he grew up with, imbuing the lost, lonely figures on the fringes of middle-England with dignity, hope and life.
One Hundred Horsepower
by Will Burns
In the village, we never knew or used
his real name. We were children
and we called him Hundred Horsepower.
I had given the name to the others
and heard it from my mother, who,
describing him as a much younger man
told me of his ability to hurl
the Waltzers round at incredible speed.
Then, years later, every time the Fair
came through and set up on the manor waste,
he walked along each morning, early,
and did his day’s work into the evening.
He still knew all the men,
and his boys – who did not attend our school –
knew all the boys. Boys who while
the Fair was there, could have their pick
tanned and topless and with dirty fingernails.
But when the rides and engines had packed up,
leaving behind only bleached shapes
in the grass, and moved on,
he and his boys shrank back into the margins
of the town, and the little row of houses
in which they lived. Pursued always
by ugly whispers.
When: Thursday 21st April 2011 @ 7pm (no wristband required, just come on down)
Where: Rough Trade East
Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
T: 020 7392 7788