Edinburgh Festival 2010


Inspired by the early twentieth century, New York Dada artist Baroness Elsa, on 21st and 22nd August, I walked to the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, dressed in a creation which celebrated life and death. I was out to test clowning in the moment, on the streets of Edinburgh.

An artificial Victoria Sponge made of plaster of paris, sat on my head. The cake had a uterus painted on suggesting blood and jam. Seven, red, 8inch, battery-driven candles crowned the cake, representing 'The Seven Ages of Woman". Red tipped tampons dangled down from the cake hat, reinforcing the theme of female life and death. A clock of tampons was stitched onto the back of the white corset and Heinz tomato cans were attached to the cups of the corset. Chillies were stitched on the corset and net skirt. The net skirt was woven with gold and red chiffon, to match the cake. A red bicycle light on the back hinted of folly and danger. Around my neck were radishes and asparagus tips. Finally, 5" white stiletto, thigh-length boots provided a look of dominance mixed with foolishness, for who would wish to trip and strut along cobbled streets in such ridiculous footwear. Spinsterlollypop, the title of one of Baroness Elsa's poems, was written down the side of the right boot.

A man ran up to me as I walked towards the Royal Mile. "It's my birthday" he announced, excitedly. I looked at him and smiled before saying "I have something for you." I reached into my bag and thrust a small pink candle towards him before saying "Happy Birthday!" He laughed and thanked me. I reached into the tomato can and produced a red radish, saying to him "you are radishing". He laughed, paused and then asked me as I walked away if I wanted any money. I giggled and ripped off one of the tomato cans which was velcroed to my breast. He looked slightly aghast and confused before laughing. I laughed, slapped the tin can back on me and walked away.

On the Royal Mile I smiled at people. Many folk smiled back. There was only one notable exception - a man who tutted. I felt in a celebratory state and a little naughty. At the same time I was conscious of the environment and the 'spectators'. I was interested in finding ways of pushing boundaries and clowning with them. A teenager who was mingling with a group of young women said, "great outfit", whilst another girl said, "fab cans". A gorgeous young man said, "Great tins". I was tempted to say "tits" but refrained and instead said thank you. He said "do you want something" and I laughed and said "You! It's your lucky day" Mild panic crossed his face closely followed by laughter and I walked on.

Sometimes I chatted and found moments to hand out beauty spots (black sticky spots from Ryman's) to men and women. The dots doubled up withe the sign of syphilis, a disease which Baroness Elsa inherited at birth. People expressed curiosity and delight with the spectacle. One man, Michael James who was also dressed in usual attire, asked me about my work. He blogged me later and captured the spirit of my work.

Walking down the Royal Mile, my clowning became more obvious as I negotiated the cobbles in the ridiculous boots which were crippling me. This gave me the chance to go to people and say "swap shoes?" People laughed as I staggered away.