Gouache and watercolour over pencil, 8 ? by 6 ? ins (21.5 by 16.5 cm)
Dating from 1936, the present work is a study for one of Epworth Allen?s most original and dynamic works in tempera, The Wall of Death, now in The Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle (inv.F13744). The picture shows a Wall of Death, one of the most popular circus side shows from around the 1920s onwards. The structure was a barrel-shaped board on which a stunt motorcyclist would perform tricks, mostly involving the building-up of terrifyingly excessive speeds. In this sense it is not unlike the idea of today?s velodromes. Epworth Allen?s depiction is as much a study of the reaction of an enthralled audience, than of the thrilling event itself.