In 2007, when the photographer Luke Stephenson was in a church in east London, the vicar asked him something quite unexpected: “Do you want to see the clown museum? Because they’re moving out.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to turn that down,” Stephenson tells me. Inside, he found in a “little chest on the wall” an astonishing trove: eggs upon eggs, painted with clown faces.
Holy Trinity Church in Dalston is also known as the Clowns’ Church, and in it Stephenson had stumbled across the world’s maddest, most charming piece of bureaucracy – the Clown Egg Register. In the foreword to his new book, for which he photographed 169 of the eggs, Stephenson explains: “It is an unwritten rule within clowning that no clown should copy another clown’s look.” The register acts as “a record of copyright” for all the members of Clowns International, a club that is the closest thing clowns have to a union.
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