Exhibition takes peek behind the scenes of the circus

Jana 'The Little Devil' Roberts Image copyright Peter Lavery
Image caption Jana 'The Little Devil' Roberts at The Blackpool Tower Circus in 2005

A rare insight into the world of circuses, taken over the past 50 years, has gone on show.

Photographer Peter Lavery has visited every circus in the UK and recorded the changes the industry has faced.

He said he liked showing performers "from a different angle" with a behind-the-scenes view of their work.

The Circus Work exhibition is at the Harley Gallery on the Welbeck Estate, near Worksop, Nottinghamshire, until 15 April.

Image copyright Peter Lavery
Image caption Clowns, Valentina Rumyantseva and Valery Kashkin, await the arrival of the crowds at the City of Manchester Stadium. Moscow State Circus. 2009

The exhibition is part of Circus250, a celebration of the industry which is reputed to have started in 1768 on an abandoned patch of land near London's Waterloo.

It was there that showman, entrepreneur and equestrian rider Philip Astley is believed to have gathered together jugglers, acrobats, clowns, strong men and bareback riders and drawn out the very first circus ring.

Image copyright Peter Lavery
Image caption Arco Winships, a Scottish strongman at Mini circus, Queen's Hall, Leeds, December 1971
Image copyright Peter LAvery
Image caption Brenda Haeni and Robert Fossett with an elephant at Fossett Brothers Circus, 1973

Mr Lavery said: "I've been all over the world and just keep coming back to circuses.

"I love seeing behind the illusion they create, to the social side, and I love being in circuses, where you might wake up to a camel going past the window."

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Image copyright Peter Lavery
Image caption Five Blackpool Tower Circusettes in their changing room, Blackpool Tower, 1974
Image copyright Peter Lavery
Image caption Gabor Eotvos Senior, Tibor Eotvos and Gabor Eotvos Junior, Billy Smart's, Croydon, 1971
Image copyright Peter Lavery
Image caption Nell Gifford, co-founder of Gifford's Circus, dressed in riding regalia with children Red and Cecil
Image copyright Peter Lavery
Image caption Ruslan Daurbekov in a bear suit, Moscow State Circus, 1988

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