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Circus, Performers, Politics & Pop Culture

Roll Up! Roll Up! This Spring, the National Centre for Craft & Design and artsNK celebrate the 250th anniversary of 'Circus in Britain' with a spectacular new show CIRCUS: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture. Join them for a balancing act of live performance and aerial acrobatics, film, photography, circus ephemera and design. A Grand Opening event on Saturday, 28th April kicks off the proceedings with a street parade, live acts, taster sessions, refreshments and so much more!

CIRCUS: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture is a collaborative endeavour promising surprises at every turn, celebrating the past and looking to the future of aerial Circus performance as an artform. For the first time, the gallery at The National Centre for Craft & Design becomes a dedicated space for static, performance and participatory arts within one immersive ‘Big Top’ style experience.

A series of small showcases within the exhibition present elements of Circus design through posters, pop culture and costume. Different viewpoints on the subject are also uncovered through the themes of Politics, Women in Circus, Equality and Inclusivity. The impact of Circus on pop-culture is highlighted through film, literature, music and memorabilia, including Take That’s infamous ‘The Circus’ album and tour. A hint of nostalgia is bought to the showcase with references to Circus inspired film such as Dumbo and the presentation of fictional literature by Dr Seuss ‘If I ran the Circus’ and Enid Blyton’s ‘The Circus of Adventure’.

'Sweet', Video Installation by Liliana Robins

Visitors can have fun clowning around with imagery from The Clown Egg Register whilst Peter Lavery’s Circus Photography1968 – 2018 presents a curious and fascinating journey through the genre. Marvellous contemporary costume includes Tina Bicat’s designs for Ockham’s Razor and showpieces from Becky Truman’s all women aerial production company Skinning the Cat.

Static exhibits are complemented by an ongoing programme of live aerial acts with star attraction pieces by Performers in Residence, Claire Crook (Madam Mango) and Rio Willett. Claire works on rope and will explore the idea of body image in Circus; focussing on what the body can do, not what it looks like, that makes you special. Rio Willett will present a series of aerial hoop displays.

Garibaldi, painted by Janet Webb (photo:Luke Stephenson)

An outreach and participation programme will engage members of the public and local schools, offering opportunities through visual arts, aerial performance and literature. artNK Dance Team will lead free drop-in taster sessions, allowing people to have a go at their own performance on the aerial hoop.

The National Centre for Craft & Design and artsNK are delighted to be official Circus250 partners supporting the vision of enabling pioneering new work and partnerships, building new audiences and embedding circus at the heart of our culture. They are grateful to Foto Speed whose generous support has made the exhibition of Peter Lavery’s Circus Photography 1968 -2018 possible as part of Circus: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture.

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