Written by Erskin Quint
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Topics: Circus, Blue Peter

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

image for Let England Shake: PJ Harvey's Battersea Power Station High Wire Walk
"Japanese Fuckin' Wha' Man? Is That A Fuckin' Radiohead Album?" - Liam Gallagher Yesterday

Diminutive West-Country trapeze artiste P J Harvey has always exuded an unattainable, urgent sexuality. Her influence on circus stunts has always been a subversive yet powerful one, with a singular, raw, physical magnetism augmented by a fierce professionalism when it comes to stunt techniques.

Ever since her debut as a bare back rider with Chipperfields Circus, a fear of repetition has driven Harvey to reinvent herself constantly, yet she is always unmistakably herself.

Paradoxically, P J Harvey is defined by her indefinable genius.

Throughout the last two decades, Harvey has undergone a bewildering series of transformations, from the early, raw sensuality of her horseback work, through a flirtation with glamour as a sequined siren human cannonball, and vampish female ring master, to her later experiments in esoteric trapeze work in the style of the Japanese Noh Theatre.

Underneath all this she is still the Dorset Farmer's Daughter who is as happy milking cows and making black puddings as she is playing the transverse flute in the style of the hayashi-kate whilst hanging upside down in the rafters of the Big Top wearing a rhinestone-studded dress with cowgirl boots and a Noh mask.

And now, for her latest incarnation, P J Harvey has walked across a 500ft-long, 200ft high wire strung between the famous Battersea Power Station towers.

Harvey took just 14 minutes to make the crossing, buffeted by strong cross winds.

Speaking to the New Circus Express, PJ commented afterwards: "I was incredibly nervous beforehand, staring over the edge, waiting to begin, but as soon as I stepped off it was an amazing rush.

"With everything I've done, I immediately have to put it aside and look for something new", she explained. "My biggest fear is always that I would just replicate something that I have done before because I know that I can do it and it feels safe.

"I almost purposefully force myself into a very new and different set of rules. I know what I've done in the past and I put it aside and look to something different and new."

P J Harvey explained about the preparation she has undergone for her latest work. "The preparatory training for this act was really intense and physically exhausting", she admitted, "and it's not something I have ever experienced before. But that's the whole point.

"This is a kind of hymn to English Circus Stunt Technique. I've been looking outwards much more than in my past work, which was very much performed in an interior environment in the circus tent. Here I was looking out much more, over England, but very much from a personal standpoint.

"I don't feel that I am qualified to comment on England from a political or technical perspective. It's just my personal experience on the high wire."

Meanwhile, Liam Gallagher has tired of copying Beatles and Stones tracks and has been slating Radiohead and Blur yet again, as well as swearing a lot and practising being a 40-year old yobbo in front of the extra-magnifying full-body mirrors he has borrowed from Sting, the tantric masturbator who has been advising him on being an egocentric twit.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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