Roll up roll up! Magic of the circus comes to town

Yare Gallery curator, Sarah Young, with a circus elephant from Air Artists, part of the Circus exhib

Yare Gallery curator, Sarah Young, with a circus elephant from Air Artists, part of the Circus exhibition in Great Yarmouth - Credit: Denise Bradley

Roll up roll up and see the wonders of the circus!

A Great Yarmouth art gallery has opened its doors for a new exhibition with a circus theme that features a landmark entertainment venue in the town.

Yare Gallery on South Quay is hosting over 200 pieces of artwork by 50 artists, including clown eggs, a giant pink elephant and Yarmouth's Hippodrome, the country's oldest surviving circus building.  

A display of clown eggs, showing individual clown's makeup which is added to the clown register, in

A display of clown eggs in the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gallery in Great Yarmouth - Credit: Denise Bradley


Artists in the Circus exhibition include Bruer Tidman, who has been painting the Hippodrome circus since 1984, Colin Self, an English pop artist who has over 30 works in the Tate, Will Teather, a leading figurative artist, Mark Burrell, a Lowestoft-based realist painter and Peter Rodulfo, who lives in Great Yarmouth.

Memorabilia from Hippodrome owner Peter Jay's private collection - including photos, props and signs - highlighting the seafront building's past are also on display.

Matthew Young studies some of the art at the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gallery in Great Yarmouth

Matthew Young studies some of the art at the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gallery in Great Yarmouth - Credit: Denise Bradley

At the launch event on Thursday, Sarah Young, curator at The Yare Gallery, said it had been a joy as a circus fan to be working on the exhibition with many talented and well-respected artists and the Jay family.

Mrs Young said: "It's been great working with the Jays.

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"They have been hands on and generous with their time.

"Also their artefacts are fantastic."

Curator Sarah Young with Pierrot costume at the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gallery in Great Yarmo

Curator Sarah Young with a Pierrot costume at the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gallery in Great Yarmouth - Credit: Denise Bradley

Jack Jay, director at the Hippodrome, said: "I think from our perspective, it's really exciting.

"It's always nice to see the circus presented in such a different way.

"I think it's going to be really interesting for people who know of the circus from our venue specifically to see how much of an impact it's had on artists over the course of so many years.

"I think from the gallery side and for Yarmouth in general it's going to be really nice to bring families to come to this space.

"It's a new experience in a new space in another area of the town."

Hippodrome's Jack Jay visits the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gallery in Great Yarmouth. Picture: D

Hippodrome's Jack Jay visits the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gallery in Great Yarmouth - Credit: Denise Bradley


The exhibition runs until January 13.

The Yare Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am until 5pm and entry is free.

For more information on the exhibition, visit the Yare Gallery website at www.yare.org.uk

The Hippodrome's Jack Jay with a Chinese Dragon he has lent to the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gal

The Hippodrome's Jack Jay with a Chinese Dragon he has lent to the Circus exhibition at the Yare Gallery in Great Yarmouth - Credit: Denise Bradley

The history of the circus in Great Yarmouth

There were six wooden circus buildings in Great Yarmouth before the Edwardian Hippodrome was built.

Yarmouth hosted many travelling circuses over the years.

In 1898-99 the public's imagination was captured when the huge United States-based Barnum and Bailey show touring Europe set up on Southtown Marshes off Gordon Road.

Back in business! Ringmaster Frank Ginnett outside the Hippodrome at its reopening after the 1939-45

Back in business! Ringmaster Frank Ginnett outside the Hippodrome at its reopening after the 1939-45 war. - Credit: Archant

The Hippodrome building was created in 1903 by ex-performer George Gilbert. The trick rider-turned-manager died in 1915.

The Hippodrome is Britain’s last surviving standalone circus building and has its original sinking ring and water show.

The great Harry Houdini performed at the Hippodrome during a European tour of the 1920s.

In 1939, the Hippodrome closed due to the Second World War. During this time it was used as a training centre.

Comedian Billy Russell bought the Hippodrome in 1951 and was its manager until his death in 1957.

It has been owned by the Jay family since 1978.

New owner Jack Jay outside Great Yarmouth Hippodrome. Photo: Archant Library

New owner Jack Jay outside Great Yarmouth Hippodrome in the late 1970s. - Credit: Archant Library

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