21/05/21 - 21/07/21
Liverpool-based artist Leo Fitzmaurice (b. 1963, Newport) presents a new film that is ten years in the making. In “Circus Goes Around” (2020) Fitzmaurice has edited together photographs of hundreds of circus posters he has spotted in urban and suburban environments, set to classic circus march music.

The artist writes; ‘Quite a few years ago I started noticing circus posters and became interested in the way they were displayed. I decided to start recording them wherever I travelled and after a period of time became aware of a shared language of display amongst them. What struck me is that the arrangements themselves seemed to be acting as a kind of performance. When I saw the photographs all together they made me laugh, they engendered a feeling of energy and action. I thought of clowns and acrobats. That led me to the idea of using the classic circus theme as a soundtrack.’

Fitzmaurice’s practice reaches across medium and interest but often begins with the same approach. He says, ‘My work most often starts with a simple observation from my everyday life. I record these observations in whatever way is to hand; a voice message, a photograph, or a scribbled note, and then I leave these things to suggest a way forward. This process can sometimes be fairly instantaneous or in other cases it can take many years. I just try to let the initial impulse have its own life, and find its own way, leading me to the eventual form.’

For the postal aspect of this exhibition, one of Leo's photographs of a public display of circus posters has been turned into an exclusive A3 print on silk paper stock (reminiscent of that which is used for the posters themselves) with a Q&A with the artist printed on the reverse.

Instagram: @leo.fitzmaurice

Listen to the OUTPUT Gallery Podcast interview with Leo using the player below or read a transcript here.

Leo Fitzmaurice print
Leo Fitzmaurice print (back)
When was the last time you went to the circus, and what was it like?

Not since I was a young child, and then only once, and as far as I can remember I didn’t really like it!

You said that putting this work together made you laugh. What are other artworks that have made you happy, by yourself or others?

Lots of artists’ work makes me laugh or smile. Favourites would be early Tom Friedman, Ceal Floyer, Martin Creed and Cornelia Parker. I think all of these artists make works that are playful, their works throw meaning up into the air and for a brief moment, the world seems refreshed. These things operate like humour, it being difficult to pinpoint exactly the artists’ meaning but nevertheless the works make the world seem more human.

How does it feel to wrap up a project on circus posters in the midst of a pandemic, where live performance before crowds is not possible?

Most of my ideas come to me when I am roaming around, so in a way this work is about our everyday environment rather than mass entertainments. For me it is saying there is potential everywhere, if we can take pleasure from our surroundings then we don’t need great big events to feel connected to the world.

What advice would you give to early-career artists in Liverpool to help them find longevity, community and inspiration?

This is the most difficult question of the lot. What general advice can I really give to the younger generation? I was privileged in so many ways; I came out of seven years of higher education without debt, into a world where everything was cheap, and there were lots of art-type jobs. I worked in arts marketing, taught art in prisons, and worked as an education freelancer at the Tate. On top of this there seemed to be many more opportunities; I was offered residencies and exchanges in Switzerland, Germany, Cuba and China with the British Council. I don’t know, there just always seemed to be something coming along when you needed it. Oh and let’s not forget the free beer! Everywhere you went there was an endless supply of Becks and Peroni, which as a young artist meant turning up to everything and feeling part of this big art scene, and not spending any money! Having said this, I personally got started by developing projects from scratch with a group of like-minded artists (using Arts Council grants), as there wasn’t really much of an art scene in Liverpool in the 90s. So, advice? In general, I would say; create space and time to know yourself, look for opportunities to work with people you respect, keep open and keep learning.
Installation view
Installation view
Video still
Video still