Any comments to this blog are welcome under 'Your Responses'.

17th March 2010 - Tails

Another day in the office, another sad face. People are growing suspicious.

I received an apologetic email from Jen, the co-worker at the interview from the 5th of March. She had read the blog and was horrified to discover that she had upset me. I think she is a lovely girl who would never deliberately upset anyone. She knew as soon as the words left her mouth that they were the wrong ones, she said. She had since re-played the scene many times over in her head wishing she had handled it differently.

I felt sad and guilty and confused. Why didn't I write that she was a lovely girl who would never deliberately upset anyone? I like Jen and didn't mean to upset her. And so we make circles of misunderstanding and regret. I sent her an email to apologise.

It made me think about the blog again. I have been trying to record events, and how they make me feel, as simply and honestly as possible. But how can anything be honest when it is one-sided? Yet how can I write honestly from anyone else's perspective? I can guess at what was meant but can only write truthfully what was said. People are not characters in a book. Life is not linear.

Perhaps this why I am keeping a blog. If misrepresentation and misinterpretation are inevitable, at least I can give people a chance to respond, to tell their one-side.

18th March 2010 - Heads

Ironic I should write that people are not characters in a book. Today fate dealt me a story line that can only have come from a novel, or possibly a film script.

Jo sent me a text. It read,
'Hey cuz - are you coming to see me one night soon then? Hope so! And how weird - my bosses' cousin danced with you at the river lea ballrooms! He was apparently rather taken with you - a fellow artist. What a small world eh? Xx'

My mind jumped straight to the lost Tom from Feb 28th. Then I caught myself. That would be too much. I had danced with lots of people that night; it could be any one of them. And yet...

I wrote back to Jo asking if she could find out his name. A while later she replied. It was Tom.

And so it happens that having the face of a clown can cause conversations and conversations, resulting in random recognition through a cousin's bosses' cousin. Life is ludicrous.

19th March 2010 - Heads

I am not the only one to be affected by my memorable face. When Vicky got home from work yesterday her husband was waiting for her.
'Why were you walking down the street with a white-faced person at lunchtime today?' he demanded.
Vicky told him about the project. Then she asked how he knew she had luncheoned with a clown. It turns out her father was driving through Epping High Street at the very time we were heading to the cafe. His attention had been caught by my odd appearance and, recognising his daughter, he had called her husband to find out more.

Later, at Loughton Youth Theatre, a girl asked me if I had been in the local Tesco on Wednesday at 3 o'clock? I told her I had.
'I thought I recognised you' she said.
I fleetingly wondered who else it might have been.

Sheena says she will never forget the time she pulled up at the traffic lights next to a car filled with people dressed as Dalmatians. Even the inside of their vehicle was spotted. She pointed out that my face must make a similar imprint on people's memories. I hadn't thought of it like that. I wondered if I could retrace my steps over the last month via CCTV footage. I imagine I would be pretty easy to spot.

20th March 2010 - Tails

I have just returned from Loughton Youth Theatres' end of term performance. They did very well. Poor Elly got a nose bleed half way through. Being a first-aider, I had to usher her to the toilets. Forgetting my face in my concern I demonstrated how she should pinch the bridge of her nose. The bleeding stopped pretty quickly but I walked around with two large thumbprints on either side of my nose for the rest of the evening.

These days the kids are very cool with my clown face. I am a novelty they like to discuss. I am showed off to their siblings and parents. The hot topic is whether my face will be happy or sad. After the show, as he was leaving, little Matthew said,
'Anyway, best of luck with the whole clown thing'.
I thanked him and said well done on his performance.
'Well I think it's well done to you for persevering with the face', he said.

21st March 2010 - Tails

I've been thinking more about Loughton Youth Theatre, and how quickly they adapted to my clown face. The older group still say they find it hard to take me seriously when I instruct them, but by accepting my face as an art project they are taking me seriously. Something else I've noticed: there is a fine line between them teasing me about my face, and their being intimidated by it. It has certainly been a lot easier to get them to behave. Again I wonder if causing doubt is quite a powerful thing to do.

Lots of my neighbours were out and about this morning as I set off to teach Kung Fu. I have yet to see one of them crack a smile when they see me. I guess it's one thing to laugh at a clown and quite another to have one living next door to you.

My face melted spectacularly in class today. I made Sarah take some photos when I got home. It is like I have some horrific skin disease. Strange though, I am no longer disgusted by myself, but weirdly fascinated. It is hard to say whether this is because I, too, am adapting to my face, or because I am in the privileged position of knowing it is not permanent.

22nd March 2010 - Tails

Sheena and I studied the photos Sarah took yesterday of my face melting, and spotted a strange similarity between my full face portrait and the face of Daniel Craig.

Sheena is the person I have spent most time with as a clown. She says that these days when she thinks of me it is with my clown face. In her mind and her memory I look like a clown. Today she couldn't understand why I offered to wait in the car when we delivered some of her work to a client's house. There is something very lovely about this.

At Jive class Frankie said I was wearing my face with much more confidence.
'Less of a victim?' I asked.
'More of an aggressor' he said.

This echoed an earlier conversation with Alex, a new girl who had seen me dancing at the Diamond Jive Night and had checked out the blog. My face had totally freaked her out, she said, but she was fascinated by that. She told me how strange and almost threatening it was not to know what my real face looked like.
'I could pass you in the street and not know you' she said.
In this case the clown face has the power of a disguise.

Aggressive, threatening, powerful. Do I feel these things? No. Am I read as these things? Yes. Could I become these things?

I talked about it with Fran when I got home. She told me a story about a man who did a PHD as a clown. He delivered all his lectures and seminars in this way. Then one day he stopped dressing as a clown and no one knew who he was and everyone was sad because the clown had disappeared.

This made me wonder who or what people were seeing when they saw the clown. It made me think of a parasite or a hologram or a magic eye picture. Something which cannot exist alone, but becomes real through something or some one else.

It reminded me of what I love about Theatre and Performance and Live Art. My favourite performances are not the most convincing theatrical ones, where I fully suspend my disbelief: nor are they the performance art tasks where I feel like I am watching some one pretend they don't know I'm watching. What I like best is when I can see something through someone: like acknowledging the structure or the frame work, whilst believing what I'm seeing none the less. Believing in the structure as much as the thing itself: like the magic eye picture: like the hologram.

23rd March 2010 - Heads

I didn't notice which queue I was in at Marks and Spencer until I looked up and saw the 'you look like the joker' man serving. As soon as he saw me he was off.
'Don't you think she looks like the Joker?' he asked Sheena.
But now I noticed something strange. He wasn't looking at me. His face was turned towards me but his eyes avoided mine. Although he addressed me directly his gaze flitted everywhere, anywhere but on my face.
'I'm sorry' he said, 'but I'm actually scared of clowns. Ever since I saw that Batman film I go all cold and get goose bumps on the back of my neck'.
Suddenly I felt sorry for him. He was trying hard to do his job and be chatty and friendly, but clearly he felt pretty uncomfortable. I made a mental note not to queue at his checkout again.

24th March 2010 - Heads

It turns out Julian doesn't like clowns either. Neither does Rob. And Dan let slip that the first hour he spent with me as a sad clown he felt weird every time I smiled. These little facts fall out softly, floating in the air like confessions or apologies. Somehow it's stranger when it's people I know.

I had to duck under the desk at work to avoid the person with Coulrophobia. It was the action of impulse. Crouching down with my head between my knees it occurred to me I had probably made things a whole lot worse. If a clown is bad news, what is a surprise clown under a desk?

25th March 2010 - Tails

Fran gave me feedback from people she'd spoken to about the project. She said that the most common response she'd heard from women was
'What about her skin?'
And from men,
'But what does she look like normally?'

My Aunty Kay asked if being beautiful still mattered as a clown? Apparently so.

I was watching text-based performances at the East London Working Men's Club last night. The event was part of the London Word Festival. Halfway through her set Laura Dockrill said,
'There's a lady sitting in the front row over there who has her face painted like a clown'.
My heart sank and I wondered where she was going with this. She continued,
'I didn't understand it, so I asked a friend and he told me she's doing it for an art project, for thirty days or something'.
Then she asked me to tell everyone about the project and plugged the link to the blog.

Afterwards several people came up to talk to me in more detail about the piece. For the first time since the project began I felt a part of something bigger than my face. The support of other artists was like a moment of relief. It made me realise how isolated I have felt making this work.

26th March 2010 - Tails

I am off to Devon next week for Easter. Saying good-bye to my colleges at work we realised that the next time we meet I will no longer have a clown face. This felt odd and a bit sad. Vicky took my photograph and everything went a bit sombre for a moment.

Now I am starting to feel nervous about taking my face off for good. This seems ridiculous when I think what a burden it has been, especially at the beginning. But the idea of going back to my 'normal' face also feels weird. I won't be different anymore, which is a relief. But I'm unclear how much different has started to mean special.

I took a long look at myself in the mirror this morning. My face seemed very pink and round.

27th March 2010 - Tails

Last night some one stole my birthday cakes. This is one of the saddest things that has happened to me as a clown.

It was jive night in Brixton. It is not my birthday until next week, but since I will be in Devon by then we were celebrating early. Wei had made a whole box of cup cakes, each with a different clown face painted on in icing. The box was on a table. The table was in the corner. Also in the corner was a collection of coats, bags and valuables, so we took it in turns to sit out and keep an eye on the stuff. Which means that the cake theft was the work of a moment.

What got to me was what didn't get taken. The camera was left, the handbags were left and the coats with the wallets were left. The clown cakes were so obviously mine that it felt like a direct personal attack. As an act of victimisation and silent intimidation it was very, very clever. Or maybe some one just liked cake.

28th March 2010 - Heads

It was Fran's idea to hold the clown party. Part in honour of my birthday and part in honour of the project, she said.

Making everyone clown up was not as hard as I thought. A lot of guests actively wanted to find their own clown, some asking to be painted and others opting to paint themselves. As clowns became the majority, people without face paint began to look conspicuous. It took less and less convincing to get everyone involved.

Making people toss a coin didn't go down well. Everyone had a very clear idea of the sort of clown they should be, regardless of whether fate dealt them a happy or sad face. Some how this came through.

After a month of dealing with my own clown face, it was interesting to see how other people dealt with theirs. Joe still wanted to look beautiful. Sheena felt she could only be happy with a sad face. Regina felt the urge to perform a choreographed routine to Madonna. Julian and John wanted to go to the local pub and cause mayhem.

Again I found myself wondering if the clown face magnifies the personality traits as well as the features.

I liked watching people forget their faces through the familiarity of their actions: clowns smoking, clowns chatting, clowns eating crisps and drinking beer.

Recognising myself in them and feeling a part of something felt good as well. It was lovely to be surrounded by familiar faces.

Some people chose to remove their make up before leaving. Even though they had only been clowns for a few hours it was a shock to see them back to normal. It also felt like being deserted.

But Joe had made me a cake too big for anyone to steal, and a chorus of clowns sang a haunting rendition of Happy Birthday, and this made me very, very happy.

29th March 2010 - Heads

It was a bad choice to cycle to the studio, but I wanted to prove to my clown face that I could. So off I set, a clown on a bike. It began to rain. So there I was, a wet clown on a bike. There was a route diversion. So that was me, a lost, wet clown on a bike. Then I cycled past Andrew. A lost, wet clown on a bike whizzing past her ex-partner of seven years. It was another edge of sanity moment, which pushed me into hysteria, making me a lost, wet clown on a bike whizzing past her ex-partner of seven years and laughing uncontrollably.

All things considered, it's just as well the face comes off on Sunday.

30th March 2010 - Tails

Jogging to Greenwich park this morning I became aware of some one running beside me. Glancing to my left I saw a smartly dressed boy of about sixteen keeping time with me. He had on a suit, a white silk tie and black shoes. I waited to see if he would over take, but it became apparent he was running in sync. We jogged on in this way for a while. He seemed to be alone. I wondered what would happen next.

We kept running, breathing at the same time, jogging at the same pace. Eventually I needed to cross the road, which in turn meant crossing him.
'I'm crossing here' I said 'Are you?'
'Yep' he said.
We crossed the road together and carried on running. Then he said,
'What's with the face paint?'
So between breaths I told him about the project. Then I said,
'What's with running in a suit?'
'It's a psychology experiment' he said.
At this point we reached the gateway to the park. As I headed in he called out,
'I go this way', and branched off to the left. And that was the last I saw of him.

As I continued on my run I pondered what he had said, and whether it were true, and if this was in some way a taste of my own medicine. Either way, I liked it.