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Time and Tide Great Yarmouth

Circus! Show of Shows at Time & Tide, Great Yarmouth

• Exhibition runs until 3 March 2019

• Featuring over 70 costumes, props, posters, photographs and objects drawn from collections across the country.

• Part of a country-wide celebration for the 250th year of circus.

• Themes include black circus performers, historic and contemporary examples of women in circus and the changing attitudes to animals in circuses.

There's an exciting programme of events relating to Time and Tide’s just opened Circus! Show of Shows, a fantastic exhibition exploring 250 years of circus across the country with a particular focus on Great Yarmouth’s historical and modern links to this British-born institution.

Highlights of the show include the costume of Norfolk’s ‘Clown Roma’, aka Marcus La Touche - on display for the first time, a taxidermy ‘boxing kangaroo’ that performed in Norfolk, and four clown eggs – physical records of a clown’s unique face paint recreated onto a hen’s egg.

To accompany this exciting exhibition the museum will be delivering a strong and varied events programme throughout the show’s run. These talks, tours, workshops and event days will provide both family-friendly and adult-only opportunities for people to engage with the fascinating history of Circus.

Circus: Show of Shows

Advertising poster for Billy Russell's Circus Spectacular at Great Yarmouth's Hippodrome, 1975. © No

On 22 October visitors will learn about The Magic of Circus as they’re invited to clown around with plenty of dressing-up and juggling! Print to the People will also be on hand to help bring people’s circus poster designs to life. 11am – 4pm, activities included with normal admission.
For Circus enthusiasts new and old there are plenty of chances to hear more about the history of this British institution as part of Time and Tide’s popular Friday talk programme:

On 7 December Gareth Davies will be discussing a Victorian trailblazer - Pablo Fanque, who was born in Norwich and was the first recorded Black circus proprietor in Britain. Pablo Fanque's Fair and The Victorian Circus will also explore the period’s attitudes towards race and entrepreneurism.

Taxidermy 'boxing kangaroo' from Bostock and Wombwell's menagerie, 1896. © Norfolk Museums Service

On 4 January Jack Jay, the current presenter and producer of Great Yarmouth’s Hippodrome discusses the fascinating history of this iconic building in Great Yarmouth Hippodrome.

Clowning around is positively encouraged on 11 January as Cosmo the Clown from Foolhardy Circus presents Cosmo’s Boots, a meander through the history of clowning with personal anecdotes, props, costume, and more than a few of jokes!

The final Circus talk will be held on 8 February as Time and Tide welcomes Ruth Battersby Tooke, Curator of Costume and Textiles at Norfolk Museums Service for Fancy That! A Brief History of Fantastical Dress.

Talks run from 11:30am-12:30pm, advance booking is essential on 01493 743930, Museums Pass holders: £2.50, adults: £3.50.

Astley's - Pablo Fanque and his Trained Steed'. © National Fairground and Circus Archive, University

For those with a creative streak there are some great opportunities to learn a new skill alongside experts from Print to the People, whose circus-inspired workshops are guaranteed to be fun and informative. On 18 November, 20 January and 10 February the museum will host Roll Up, Roll Up - Block Printing Workshop where participants will learn how to create their own letterpress posters alongside experienced tutors in a friendly and supportive environment. These printing workshops are suitable for beginners or those with some experience, booking recommended on 01493 743930, Museums Pass holders: £5, adults: £6.

Pick up your pencils and paints on 2 December and 10 February for a special adult Figure Drawing class with a difference - an acrobatic and dance performer will be posing as a model for the group. Participants will explore structure, form, posture, proportion and movement through quick sketches and longer poses and provides an opportunity to try a range of techniques and approaches. Booking essential on 01493 743930, Museums Pass holders: £5, adults: £6.

Bring a little colour and humour to your February with exciting Circus activities during half-term week, including crafts, arts, performance and more alongside Seachange Arts.

Circus performer with doves and parrots at Great Yarmouth's Hippodrome in 1963 © Norfolk Museums Ser

Circus! Show of Shows forms part of Circus 250, a UK-wide celebration marking the anniversary of the birth of a spectacle now so familiar to us all. It was in London in 1768 that Philip Astley, equestrian rider, entrepreneur and showman first introduced his bold new venture; bringing together, in one 42ft ring, jugglers, acrobats, clowns, strongmen and bareback riders to wow the crowds and spark a tradition that lives on to this day, not just in Britain, but around the world.

The exhibition addresses a variety of themes, using amazing objects, textiles and archive material to explore, amongst other things, black circus performers, historic and contemporary examples of women in circus, and the use of animals within shows. Original circus posters, many being displayed for the first time since their associated shows ended, will document the changing styles, offers and attitudes that existed throughout Circuses’ long history within Britain.

Clown costume worn by Marcus La Touche aka Clown Roma © Norfolk Museums Service

Circus! Show of Shows is generously supported by a £98,000 National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). David Renwick, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Yorkshire and the Humber, said:

“In the 250th year of the circus in Britain, money raised by National Lottery players is enabling the drama, the highs and lows and the hidden stories of the circus to be shared with thousands of people. As part of the nationwide celebrations, the three exhibitions will engage people of all ages in local circus heritage: Sheffield, which attracted famous travelling circuses including Barnum and Bailey, Great Yarmouth, home to one of the last surviving purpose built circus buildings, and Newcastle, once home to Billy Purvis, the famous Northumbrian clown!”

Advertising poster for a circus at Norwich's Hippodrome c.1911.© Norfolk Museums Service

Heritage and history in Norfolk