An aerial silks duo from the base perspective

This post is the second post in my series of posts about the aerial silks duo made up by Alex and Sam. The first post I did about them featured an interview with Alex and an abstract portrait of the two of them. So now this portrait is a more realistic style and this post features an interview with Sam.

‘Fly with a little help from my friends’: Watercolour on cold press ground on a wooden panel, portrait of Alex and Sam


The first time I ever got to try doubles on aerial silks it was with Sam. He came to class and let each of us try flying. It was such a thrill! Sam was such a solid base that the whole class felt confident to give it a go. One lesson, sam also substituted for Alex who is the regular aerial teacher. He created a fun and welcoming atmosphere for the class.

Sam is an exuberant performer with excellent comedic timing. I have seen him perform as part of his duo with Alex and also as the teacher of the children’s performance troupe at CircoBats. I particularly liked that his character in the troupe show was an elephant since he was so much bigger than all of the kids. It was a really funny and cute show.

Photo of Sam in CircoBats Performance Troupe performance of Animal Academy


Side by side comparison of ‘Fly with a little help from my friends’ and the reference image

Q&A with Sam:

What made you decide to try aerial?

I started at Cirkidz when I was 10 because my brother wanted to give it a go. I never was any good at ball sports and I think my parents thought this would be a good physical activity for me.

What were the best qualities about some of your teachers when you were getting started?

When it comes to silks in general including duo silks almost all I have learnt has been from Alex. Alex was a really great teacher as it was generally always one on one so I was able to progress very quickly.

What is your favourite aspect of aerial?

Ever since I was a kid my favourite thing was climbing, getting as high off the ground as I possibly could, challenging my balance, strength and my hand placement. I think doing aerial brings me back to this child mindset but it is also able to incorporate so much more like flexibility and discipline as well. I also should mention how special it is to do duo silks. When I am doing duo silks with Alex you need to react together, generally with out talking. When you are able to communicate with someone with such little gestures it feels like your minds are connected, which I think is something pretty special!

What is your favourite type of performance?

Something new. I think why people go to the circus in general is so that they can see something that they haven’t ever seen before. When I see a Performance with all the same tricks as another act in a similar way, it doesn’t matter if they make it super graceful, this will automatically lose my focus. If your doing circus you need to be unique.

Has the things that you like about aerial changed from the time you started to now?

Yea as I’ve aged and progressed my skill level the appreciation for aerial acts has become greater as I can see the difference between a trick you can learn in 5 minutes and one that takes the skill of 3 years of training.

How did you get into teaching aerial?

I just grew into the roll slowly from getting older in CircoBats troupe and becoming a senior troupe member. I would be asked to look after areas and would inherently start passing on tips then began to teach.

What do you hope your students get out of your classes?

I want my students to be able to go home each day and be able to tell their friends and family the new things they learnt and tell people how much fun it was to learn it.

What is your favourite aspect of teaching aerial?

I like it when you can see the visible improvements in a student’s self-confidence or you see a student come up with an act by themselves. If something like this happens you know you are doing something right!

how is working in a duo different from performing a solo aerial act?

When you perform in a duo act you have double the variables to account for. There are a lot of things can go wrong and you might not know if something is not right. You need to ensure your skills and strength are above the level you need, as if they aren’t you are not only risking injury for yourself but also your partner.

Reference Image

I love this photo of Sam and Alex showing Sam supporting Alex by one arm. Alex is in an amazing split with the red silk cascading down past her like a waterfall. I think that the long, thin composition of the shot complements the way that the red silk falls. In contrast to the previous piece of this duo, I wanted to focus on the shape and form of this piece, whilst the previous piece emphasised the black and red colour scheme.

Reference image  of Samuel and Alex performing “Try Again” at the 2017 Adelaide Fringe Festival


Progress photos of ‘Fly with a little help from my friends’

Creative Process

I chose a large wooden board for this piece as it was long and thin enough to capture the composition of the photograph. Cold press ground was applied to the wood so that I would be able to use watercolour paints and have them run like on watercolour paper. The background was created using multiple colours with bleach and salt water dripped onto the rainbow wash.

Summer the pup guarding ‘Fly with a little help from my friends’


Since the background had so many colours I decided to make the figures in a colour scheme of blue and purple. I wanted to make sure I left plenty of white space, as I sometimes have issues with restraint when using watercolours.

‘Fly with a little help from my friends’ next to a bowl of citrus


Once I had finished paining in the figures I wanted to emphasise the silk to increase the flow of the composition. So I painted the silk in with orange to make it stand out more. I like the way that it wraps around the duo and completes the artwork.

‘Fly with a little help from my friends’ framed print available in my online store


If you would like to enquire about commissioning a portrait of yourself or someone you admire please send me an email at