A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance Pamphlet front

(May 26 – June 5, 2021)

Finis Gallery celebrated the life and philanthropy of high-rope walker Carlos Trower (1850 -1889), known as the ‘African Blondin,’ who used his platform to promote the emancipation of enslaved people.

The window display of the exhibition featured ‘Portrait of Carlos’ by Bristol-based artist Rachel Hemming Bray.

As a young fugitive, Carlos hid among a circus and learned to walk up the tent ropes. At 12 years old, Carlos performed for his first African-American audience at an event in Brooklyn, New York, campaigning for the emancipation of all enslaved peoples. After a performance in England, Carlos married an English woman Myra Clay and made a home in the smoke and industry of the Potteries. Carlos continued to perform on the high-rope and nearly died when the rope snapped beneath him in the Beverly Cattle Market near Hull. He also performed with a Victorian Panorama show at Bristol’s Colston Hall for over 3,000 people, but at the age of 39, Carlos died in Bow Asylum reported as a degenerative neurological disorder.

Finis Gallery partnered with Myers-Insole Local Learning, Circomedia, Bristol Beacon, University of the West of England, University of Bristol Theatre Collection, I Am Acrylic and St. Michael on the Mount Primary School to create a project celebrating high-rope Carlos Trower, who lived in Bristol during the 1870’s directly across from the Finis Gallery.

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