‘As The Ringmaster takes his last breath he breathes life back into his Circus..’

In 2008 Shelly became Artist in Residence at the National Centre For Circus Arts (previously known as Circus Space) the premier centre for circus arts in London. During her residency she worked with foundation degree students to devise and choreograph a work for the screen. The result is a visually sumptuous poetic feast where forms melt into the world of The Forgotten Circus. Gerard Bell, a regular in Shelly’s films plays The Ringmaster. Jamie McDermott and The Irrepressibles composed and performed the  soundtrack, which includes their hit ‘In This Shirt’. The Forgotten Circus was funded by Circus Space and Arts Council England.

The Forgotten Circus has screened at over 100 dance, arts and film festivals worldwide and was part of a limited edition EP/DVD release entitled ‘From The Circus To The Sea’ a collaboration with The Irrepressibles which appeared in Rough Trades ‘Most Wanted’.

Comments :
“..The Forgotten Circus is one of the most stunning, beautifully compelling works I have ever seen. The juxtaposition of whimsy with brevity is thought consuming and inspiring. Apocalypse as performance, it resonated in notions of war, breath, humanity and hysteria. The idea that an aesthetic of silent film could be turned on its end to create something that is wholly  contemporary is amazing. The colors and use of light is beyond compare. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and recesses of my mind…” – John Moletress – Theatre Director – Washington DC, USA.
“.. I just stumbled across your piece, The Forgotten Circus…… It moved me deeply and profoundly in an inexplicable way. I really wish I could put into words what made it so brilliant. The moments of what can only be described as chaotic stillness were almost transcendent…… I am rarely at a loss for words….I just felt the need to express appreciation for the breath-taking beauty in the choreography and thought-provoking emotion of the performance captured on film and music. Thank you for your artistry!..” – Kirsten Hunter – UK.
“ Art is most definitely not dead. Art is, in fact, sweeping up storms of fog and glitter and whirling around with acrobatic grace to the accompaniment of pipe organs while wearing face-paint. The Forgotten Circus…. stars Gerard Bell as a dying ringmaster of a shadowy group of acrobats, jugglers, clowns and contortionists….. The film seamlessly blends music, motion, space and color to create a visually stunning piece of work that is both beautiful and heartbreaking. You’re probably going to want to watch this over and over again…” – Openlab magazine – by Katherine Nonemaker
“..I’ve just watched The Forgotten Circus, and I cannot refrain from writing to thank for this incredibly touching and unexpectedly sincere piece you have created, for me it was a truly amazing experience….” – Aloha Filkov – Moscow, Russia
“Shelly Love, her movies feel like these gloomy but yet beautiful dreams we have as children. I discovered her at my beloved café 1001, exactly on December 13th 2010, during one of those short movies evenings. That night, the video of she directed, was presented & I was stunned to tears..”

“The Forgotten Circus by Shelly Love: it is a magical, fascinating, source d’inspiration for me..the costumes by Oliver Garcia are Marvellous…” – Madame Chic De France – Fashion designer – France

“..Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!!!!!!! So uniquely creative and hauntingly beautiful! …” – Dora Villanueva

“… I found one of the most amazing short films I’ve ever seen that gave me so much
inspiration!… The Forgotten Circus made by Shelly Love. It’s amazing, abstract and everything is backwards but makes complete sense. A quote from the short film that is forever ingrained into my head is “They perform to no audience, only to themselves…can you hear the music?” It’s also some of the only words spoken…but it’s so hauntingly beautiful…” – Sharmaine Ruth – Indiana

“Fantastic short film my dad and I found. I don’t really think I can introduce or give an explanation of this. Just watch and have your mind blown..” Amber – Florida, USA

“..Incomprehensibly beautiful short film. Amazing. Only 20-ish minutes, and I was captivated the whole time…My computer froze about halfway through, and I actually started slamming my fists on the desk….”. – Troglobite


the guardian

The Guardian Review: The atmospheric power of Theatres By Chris Wilkinson

I don’t like cinemas. However good the film you’re watching is, the space in which the event takes place is almost invariably drab, functional and identikit. Your average Odeon (and they are all average) feels like it has fallen straight out of the 1950s. This is one specific area where the theatre can provide an experience with which film just cannot compete. When you go and
see a live show – whether it is in a space with the rustic intimacy of the Watermill or the urban grunge of the Arcola – the venue itself can become an inherent and often enriching part of the experience.Ironically, the importance of this sense of place was powerfully demonstrated to me recently whilst watching a short film.
The piece in question was Shelly Love’s extraordinary film The Forgotten Circus. This tells the story of a lonely ringmaster (an impish but melancholic Gerard Bell) who leads (or imagines?) a group of circus performers that appear doomed to tumble and clown for eternity. “They have no audience,” the ringmaster tells us – but they perform nonetheless.
What made the piece so powerful was not just the haunting soundtrack provided by the Irrepressibles, nor the eerie visual world that Love creates as she runs footage of acrobats and jugglers backwards. Rather, it was the venue in which it was being shown. The film played on a loop in a tucked-away corner of the labyrinthine Shunt Vaults under London Bridge station. A makeshift cinema had been set up in a dark, dank space with a low, vaulted ceiling. It felt exactly like the grotesque and abandoned space that the film’s characters inhabited, and it was not hard to imagine that they might spill off the screen and run riot throughout the rest of the vaults.
The secluded nature of this cinema also allowed for another possibility. It became quite easy to imagine, after seeing the piece, that there could well be stretches of time where the film played, but with no one watching. For a piece about performers being compelled to perform without an audience ever being present, this felt particularly appropriate. Andy Field wrote recently
about the possibility of a piece of theatre existing entirely in one’s head, and it is this idea – the nightmarish, endless loop of an truly unobserved performance – that has become lodged in mine.
As I moved on from the film, I could still hear the soundtrack – on its eternal loop – echoing around the rest of the vaults, permeating the space. So the act of watching it became profoundly linked to the place where it was being viewed. Of course, one of the core advantages film has over theatre is that something can be watched and rewatched, and always be exactly the
same. But I would be very hesitant about seeing this piece again outside of this context, in case its initial impact was somehow diminished. And in that sense, the film became a highly effective piece of theatre.