The world’s greatest showmen come to Western Bank library
A spectacular exhibition celebrating all the fun of the fair will be on display at the University’s Western Bank Library from 1 February to 30 April 2012.
Circus Showmen: Innovators Who Shaped the Circus is curated by Professor Vanessa Toulmin and Amanda Bernstein from the University’s National Fairground Archive. It will take visitors back in time to the late 18th century when circus content and performance first developed as an awe-inspiring art form. Personalities who defined circus for their generation come back to life in an intriguing collection of ephemera, costumes and props, covering 250 years of the British big top.
The exhibition begins with ‘the father of modern circus’ Philip Astley and moves chronologically to one-time fairground showmen Lord George Sanger, Bertram Mills, Billy Smart and finally to Gerry Cottle, a stockbroker’s son from London.
Their stories demonstrate that circus has always been the place to which the most talented artists and performers often ran away. And no circus exhibition can be complete without including history of the most famous venue for circus in the UK – Blackpool Tower.
The exhibition, which is open to the public, features a collection of posters dating back to 1810, full sized models of Coco the Clown and Charlie Carioli loaned from Clowns International and two original ‘This is Your Life’ books which were presented to Billy Smart and Charlie Carioli respectively.
Professor Vanessa Toulmin said: " This exhibition is a celebration of the world’s greatest ever showmen who shaped the circus and created magical and exhilarating world-class shows and events. The National Fairground Archive is thrilled to be given the opportunity to show our superb circus collection which includes our fantastic posters dating from 1810 to 1990. The Bertram Mills posters in particular are wonderful pieces of art which date from the 1930s.
“I am extremely excited to be curating and producing this must-see exhibition. The collection of wonderful artefacts, props and costumes means it has something to offer visitors of all ages and is simply not to be missed.”
The exhibition is open 9am-7pm Monday to Friday and 12pm to 6pm Saturday and Sundays.
It will be closed for the Easter Break from 5pm on 5 April and will reopen at 9am on 10 April.