The Hackney Empire is a remarkable old theatre close to my home in London. Established in 1901, it is one of the few surviving theatres by Frank Matcham, the Edwardian opera house designer. For the first half of the 20th century the Empire hosted stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and WC Fields, before they found fame on film screens.
Much of my work in the late 1990s involved extensive travel and dealing with traumatic subjects. To provide a counterbalance I was drawn to develop a project documenting the life of this venerable theatre, so close to home, in the years leading up to its 100th anniversary.
The images were published at the time, but were also used extensively as part of a funding campaign to keep the theatre alive.
On the strength of this body of work, I was subsequently commissioned to work with the Circus Space project in London to document the training of 87 young aerial performers for the Millennium Dome show.
This collection brings together images from the Hackney Empire and my time at Circus Space.
World famous Russian clown Slava Polunin in his dressing room. His breakthrough, SnowShow, was first seen in the UK at the Hackney Empire.