Striptease tent, Pinner Annual Fair granted by Edward III in 1336
Vintage Gelatin Silver Print
24 x 30.5 cms (9.43 x 11.99 ins)
Acquired directly from the artist
Signed on the reverse.
Fairs were not always the festive occasions that Sykes depicted in his series Once a Year. Originally fairs were like markets where goods could be bought and sold such as cattle and produce. Unlike markets, which were held by decree of the Lord of the Manor, fairs were established through statute or by regularising an ancient custom. In 1336, Edward the III granted Pinner two fairs a year in addition to a weekly market held on Wednesdays. One of the fairs lasted for three days, on the vigil, the day and the morrow of the Nativity of St John, or the 1-3 of June, and the other took place on the day and morrow of the decollation of St. John the Baptist or 29-30 of August. When Sykes photographed Pinner Fair in the early 1970s, the market like fair had long disappeared and had been replaced with a pleasure fair that took place on the High Street each year on Whit Wednesday.
Homer Sykes recalls capturing this photograph, which he contends was almost by accident. Sykes said, It is a picture I didn't know I had taken. I photographed these girls stripping and I was at the back of the tent, because I wanted to capture the spectator's heads. I remembered clear as day light, when I looked at the contact sheet, this was the very last frame. It was the picture. The gent in the tuxedo pulled back the rag curtain to let the girls off stage, an enormous blown up image of Humphrey Bogart's eye appears. This photograph is one of the miracles of photography, which is what makes it so interesting. Things can go right and potentially could very easily go wrong.
This photograph was included in the book by Homer Sykes Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs (Gordon Fraser, 1977)
British Photography / The Hyman Collection