With snake charmers, jumping tigers, and dwarf clowns, Ashton circus in the 1980s was a truly a sight to behold.
Photographer Craig Holmes captured these images while spending a week with Australia’s largest touring circus in Brisbane.
They show a trainer with a severed hand after he was mauled by a tiger, a killer elephant standing on two legs and an audience transfixed on the show.
Photographer Craig Holmes captured various images of what happens at Australia’s largest and oldest circus
Ashton Circus exhibits various characters such as dwarf clowns who entertain the crowd with their humour (pictured left and right)
Mr Holmes’ work will be displayed in galleries across Sydney as part of the Head On photo festival from May 5-20.
He explained the story behind his picture set on the festival’s website.
‘Stepping back in time, news and stories were carried by nomadic entertainers travelling from town to town performing their theatres,’ he wrote.
‘These touring groups became the modern circus. Sighting a poster advertising the Ashton Circus, childhood memories flooded back of the days as children we would run down to the local park to witness the circus carnival.
‘The unloading of the trucks, putting up the tents, walking and feeding the elephants, so exciting to a child!
Mr Holmes’ work (pictured) will be displayed in galleries across Sydney as part of the Head On photo festival from May 5-20
Mr Holmes captured images of camels which are used in the circus. The camels are used for various performances to wow the crowd
‘I was so fascinated by these people in my romantic memories of those days. As an adult I was determined to explore these nomadic people and their show.
‘Attending the Ashton Circus daily for about a week, I asked the owners for permission to photograph the performers and members of the crew.
‘The owners welcomed me and gave me almost free access to their entire camp. The performers were equally personal and agreeable to participating in my series.
‘Ashton Circus is Australia’s oldest circus. In the Ashton series I set out to capture the human face of the circus, I wanted to investigate the individuals within and explore their environment.
‘To go beyond the curtains and the arena, to share their passion and capture portraits of them immersed in the light of their canvas theatre.’
A woman in a sparkly, beady bra and dreadlocks is captured charming a snake close to her face (left) and the audience (right) watches the show in awe
Mr Holmes was determined to show off the nomadic stories the circus entertainers had and showing the audience a part of their history