Karl Breu

(The Ice King)

He was born Karl Breu, lived by the name Tom Jack, and used a stage name of ‘The Ice King’, given to him due to his complextion. Breu was albino, with no pigmentation in his hair, eyes or skin.

Breu stole the show whilst in the audience as a child and soon joined the circus becoming an escape artist, following his idol Houdini.

His life was full of little stories, such as financing a WW1 memorial for the fallen in his hometown, serving as an interpreter, and almost killing himself after a stunt, falling of London Tower Bridge in a barrel, went wrong.

This piece was part of a project looking at Circus Oddities

Have a look….

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‘Ice Chain’

With many attempts, I wanted to prototype a chain made of ice, I found the temporariness of the ice, combined with the security of a chain interesting, whether it serves as an impractical object or implies an impending event.

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A common issue people with Albinism have is blurry vision due to issues with the development of their eyes. I liked how the ice, despite starting as clear water, clouded up, blurring the image of the chain.

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‘Frozen in Translation’

This piece was to combine the tension Breu would bring to his performances with his translation skill. As the ice melts, the water dripping would break the water soluble paper the message written in German, revealing a translation underneath. Theorectically, I would ideally place this in Potter’s Field Park, where Tower Bridge can been seen.