Roll up before the curtain falls on Great Yarmouth’s free Circus show
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Ladies and Gentlemen, roll up, roll up and be dazzled and enchanted by a free exhibition which celebrates the circus and the town’s Greatest Showman in Great Yarmouth.
There are two weeks left of the Circus exhibition at The Yare Gallery on South Quay which is in association with the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus and celebrates the town’s rich circus heritage.
With more than 200 works to see from 50 artists and memorabilia from the Hippodrome Circus Collection and Hippodrome owner Peter Jay’s private collection, all three storeys of the magnificent Georgian gallery are filled with treasure.
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.
Yarmouth’s history is entwined with the circus – before the 1903 opening of the Edwardian Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus on St George's Road, the town had hosted countless travelling circuses and had up to 10 wooden circus buildings dotted across the borough.
Circus performers and the venues they work in have inspired painters and creators for centuries as they catalogue the rich heritage, art, skills and dramatic lives of circus troupes and families and the Gallery’s exhibition reflects this.
From bejewelled Pierrot costumes to zany fairground mirrors, a gigantic inflatable elephant in the courtyard by Air Artists to a display of eggs painted as clowns to ‘trademark’ stage make up, vintage props and signs to a giant Chinese Dragon, there is magic around every corner.
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Curator and Gallery Manager Sarah Young said the exhibition was a guaranteed way to banish the post-Christmas blues and that visitors young and old had been enchanted by the theatrical display.
“We’d love as many people as possible to see the exhibition before it ends on January 13,” she said, “it’s a really uplifting and fun exhibition and it’s free so a brilliant thing to do on a grey day.
“The Hippodrome Christmas Spectacular is being performed until January 9, so it’s the perfect thing to do before you go and see the show.”
The Gallery’s airy, light-filled rooms are filled with colour, with stairwells lit as if they are miniature stages and decked with bunting and tiny sculptures of aerial artistes.
On the top floor, visitors can watch a video charting the history of the Hippodrome Circus, narrated by Hippodrome ringmaster Jack Jay and watch how the famous 120-year-old water spectacular works from back stage.
In addition to the exhibition and a chance to buy your own piece of art from the Gallery’s shop, there is the chance to explore the fascinating building at 26 South Quay.
Funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Culture Recovery Fund facilitated the launch of The Yare Gallery in May 2021 after the 2019 closure of the Norfolk Nelson Museum which occupied the space from 2002.
The former 17th century merchant’s house offers views into one of the last Yarmouth Row houses and the chance to walk in rooms which have witnessed centuries of town history.
“It has been so wonderful to hear people talking about what the circus in Yarmouth means to them, whether it be the Hippodrome or Out There Arts and it was a treat to work with these wonderful artists and the Jays, who have been so generous with their time,” added Sarah.
She added a new exhibition, Yarmouth is Great, begins on January 21.
· The Yare Gallery’s Circus exhibition is open on January 3 to 8, then January 11 to 13 from 11am to 5pm, entry is free, find out more at www.yare.org.uk