Blondin at the Falls is part of a series of works recreating exploits of daring and spectacular escape. Often I have found that postcards commemorating such events have already been produced and occasionally, like mine, a degree of fakery has gone into their making.
Blondin first tightroped across Niagara in 1859 cooking an omelette and lowering it to be eaten by the passengers on the Maid of the Mist below. Like so many adventurers there is often a sort of mundanity to their exploits to which I am attracted.
My father collects and deals in postcards. He thinks he has about 60,000, my mother says its closer to 100,000. He is not too keen on people knowing this. Shelves of archive boxes edge his study, each filled with scenes of: grim northern towns, famous stars of stage and screen, and dubious humorous sketches. I act like a gleaner picking up the doubles, the damaged and the not so valuable. Often I phone up, asking for airliners of the 1970s, cliff-top hotels or street scenes in Barnsley into which I insinuate a meteorite, a bowling ball, a sub-Cretaceous explosion. Blondin, the blonde 'boy wonder' survived threats of prison, travelled with Barnum and Bailey and died of diabetes in Niagara House; a simple terrace in Ealing.
As well as Niagara, Blondin also performed his act at Edgbaston Reservoir.