With all the annual events and celebrations cancelled due to the current lockdown I’ve been thinking of other ways to try to photograph some of the UK’s annual events. Hearing that it was the 75th Anniversary of Grimaldi Clown Service at the beginning of February I got in contact with one of London’s most popular Clowns to discuss a way of photographing this historic occasion.
A kind of shrine to all the historic Clowns
I have crossed paths with Mattie The Clown before. Photographing the actual service held on the first weekend of February on previous years . Last time my photographs published in The Independent newspaper back in the days when it was a printed newspaper. This time round with no Clown Service due to Coronavirus restrictions I arranged to meet Mattie at his home. He rarely allows photographers into his private world therefore it was a privilege to be invited. Once arriving at Mattie’s flat we headed down into his basement Clown’s room. Which was a kind of shrine to all the historic Clowns around the world with photographs and memorabilia in every corner. His brightly coloured Clown suit hanging all neatly ready for our photography session. The first time he had warn it this year.
The Most Important Part of The Day is To Practice Laughing
Mattie has been clowning for 47 years and has some amazing stories. From when he worked on shows including The Rocky Horror Show, Hair, and as a warm up act for Dame Edna. He also tells me the most important part of his day is when he gets up and practises laughing to himself, which he believes is therapeutic to being happy. Laughing at himself in the mirror every morning. I must remember to try this myself!
In the graveyard
Once we’ve chatted I position him with his make-up table and begin photographing him applying his make-up. It’s amazing how quickly he competes this. But I guess after 47 years he should be proficient at this. Next he put in his Clown Suit. More shots inside his dressing room. Next we ventured outdoors and head to the church where Grimaldi was originally buried. Here we shot some portraits of him sat looking thoughtful in the graveyard.
I enjoyed my time with Mattie. Spending much longer than the hour I suggested we would need. I could spend all day listening to his stories of his life as a Clown.
Over the course of the weekend my photographs were published in The Daily Telegraph on the Saturday, then in The Observer on the Sunday.
I look forward to covering next years Grimaldi Clown Service in more normal circumstances.