"Early in 1971, I began begging lifts and sleeping rough in travels that took me all over Great Britain to visit circuses. I bedded down in fields and under wagons and sometimes even in them. On one occasion, the most comfortable pallet I could find proved to be in the straw of an empty lion's cage. Most of the time, however, the cages were occupied by lions."
" I was immediately struck by the aesthetic, the elaborate display and the backstage ordinariness. It was in this composition and its balance that I hoped to reveal something of the 'heart' of my subjects.
'Those who study this book should feel...... that they have extended their range of worthwhile human aquaintance '
"Peter Lavery’s photographs of the circus could at first and above all seem to be a pure sensuous pleasure, even more than they are such certainly truthful documents of their subject. But then they very soon reveal themselves to be lively and faithful portraits of the human beings involved, naturally communicating their unique combination of the earthy, tough and familiar with the exotic, dangerous, and absurd."
"No photographer has ever looked at circus performers in this way before, or brought us closer to them as individual human beings. These pictures, I believe, show Lavery to be a photographer of the first rank in his human and pictorial perception, and #his undoubted technical skill. They demythologize the circus without robbing it in any way of its curious beauty, magnetism, and poignancy."
Bruce Bernard 'Show People' Independent Magazine April 1997
Bruce Bernard Picture Editor of the Sunday Times Magazine and creator of the unique and classic Sunday Times style at this time.
For me a real photograph is an image mechanically contrived or conceived by its taker in such a way that it mysteriously becomes a potent fact in its own right - though only with the help of things just beyond his perception or control. It is also like any other proper picture in that nothing can be either added or taken away from it without diminishing it.” –