The 4th April 2010 is Easter Sunday. This marks the end of Lent and the conclusion of Helen's life with the face of a clown.

31st March 2010 - Tails

Driving back to Devon with Joe and Anouk made me think about little Anouk's reaction to the clown party. It was strange because she didn't mind being surrounded by weird and wonderful faces at all. Throughout the evening she studied each person with disconcerting concentration and played games with several different clowns, although she drew the line at having her own face (or even nose) painted.

But when it came to bedtime she just could not sleep. She was obviously very tired, and Pete and Joe tried everything. Yet each time Anouk was about to drop off she would sleepily look at her parents through half-closed lashes and suddenly snap back into consciousness.

It was over an hour before Pete thought to try washing off his clown make up. The effect was instantaneous. Anouk fell asleep immediately.

I thought of my little niece in that fragile state of semi-consciousness, slipping away from the so-called real world of logic and reason, but being unable to leave her parents with the faces of clowns.

I marvelled at the sensitivity of the sub or semi-conscious and the extent to which it could impact on action and reaction. Joe said that the night of the clown party, and for several nights after, she would see clowns behind her eyes before going to sleep. I thought of my own clown dreams, and how I had passed them on to Fran.

The clown as a spectre? The clown as hologram? Whatever else it is, the clown is a very powerful image.

1st April 2010 - Heads

April fools day. Did I feel special? No, not really. I thought more about the clown as a fool though. I thought about Shakespeare's fools and the court jesters and the holy fools, and I thought about my own experiences with a clown face.

As research for this project, before my clown face began, I attended the annual convention of clowns at a church in Dalston, London. The ceremony is held at the same church every year, in memory of the great clown Joseph Grimaldi. The venue was packed with about fifty clowns and perhaps three times as many public. There was a strange feeling of anticipation and merriment in the air, as if we were all always already on the brink of laughter.

But the laughter never came. This was, after all, a church service, and the clowns were subdued and respectful. A couple even delivered sermons on the importance of simple joy and honest truth.

I thought this might be a disappointment to the masses, but no one seemed to mind. There was something strangely touching about the whole event and everything seemed a bit special, as if we were all holding our breath for something.

It is hard to put my finger on what it was but now, with only three days left in my own clown face, I feel a similar kind of strangeness.

2nd April 2010 - Heads

My father had a job manoeuvring the caravan out of the narrow drive and onto the road. My mother stood behind the caravan directing whilst I was stationed in front of the car. As I capered about, pointing and shouting, the wheels stuck in the ditch spinning a bucket load of mud up into my clown face. Weirdly, I felt oddly comfortable with this. Things were as they should be.

And now things have to change again. Can it really be true that I have only two more days as a clown? At what point did I stop wishing for this moment? And when did the clown face start feeling like a part of me?

Joe says the way I talk about the project makes her recall the period she was pregnant with Anouk. The pre-determined period of time, the newness of the experience, the positive and negative effects, the change in physical appearance and the subsequent treatment by others. We spoke again about the idea of something or someone living through somebody else, both in relation to pregnancy and the clown: a kind of clown symbiosis. The parallel was interesting and helped me to think about how I feel now in these final days of the project.

3rd April 2010 - Tails

Today is a back to front, inside out, upside down kind of day. It is a day for the end and a day for the beginning and a day for the marking of time. I am suspended in the air, in a breath, in a moment and am waiting for something and the something is nothing. Today is my birthday. Today is my last day of being a clown.

I am simultaneously wanting and not wanting. When we do this in Kung Fu, this push-pull, it draws on the Chi and creates energy. The energy is coming from inside and the tension shows on the outside in every muscle and sinew. This is how it seems today.

I have been for a walk on the moor to clear my head. I have done some baking. I have been for a meal with my family. My mother made me a duck cake. But I can't change the feeling.

In the restaurant I passed a table of middle-aged people speaking in posh accents. A man with a shiny forehead stopped me as I went by.
'Is this for charity?' he asked.
I told him no, this was an art project.
'But it is for charity?' he asked.
I assured him no, this was a live art piece. Then I tried to explain about the work and the blog. Before I'd got far he grabbed my arm, looking nervous.
'You're not against blood sports are you?' he asked.
I said no out of sheer confusion. Did he think I was protesting?
'Thank God for that', he said.
At this point a lady to his right felt compelled to step in and explain to him that I was a street statue. I believe she was in earnest. It seemed a good time to leave.

It's strange gaining a year and losing a clown. I know I've achieved something, but I'm not sure what. I'm still too immersed in it. For now I will just try to laugh at my last/first day, and not think too much about it, and deal with it all tomorrow.

4th April 2010

Easter Sunday. After forty-six days of wearing a clown face I am now back to my bare skin. How does it feel? Light!

Funny what a physical difference the weight of the paint should make. Funny how I have got used to looking at my hands after I touch my face. Funny how pink my skin seems and how small my mouth looks.

Jogging through the lanes with Joe, I instinctively smiled at every car that passed. I was waiting for the looks and the pointing and yes, the smiling. There were no looks and no pointing, but the smiles were reciprocated.

My mother says being a clown has turned me into an optimist. Cognitive clown therapy! I laugh at her, but maybe there is some truth in this. The reactions of others during the project were nowhere near as bad as I anticipated. The majority of the time they were positive, if not initially then ultimately. This being the case, I am more inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt. If the majority of confrontation comes from a lack of understanding, I am happy to teach and learn.

Even people who didn't give a shit about understanding were easier to deal with as a clown. I realise now that by deliberately painting a clown face I was already openly ridiculing myself. If someone is laughing at themselves by choice, what insults are left for others to use? Time and again people made as if to shout at me, but floundered with what to say. The result was usually a strange kind of non-descript noise, which meant nothing to anyone.

My own reactions were far harder to deal with: but these reactions I can change. This is something key to come out of the project. I have more choice in my interpretation of the world than I realised.