Circus Life: Art and Artistes

7 Nov 2018 – 12 Dec 2018

Regular opening hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Cost of entry


Peltz Gallery

London, United Kingdom


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This exhibition celebrates the 250th anniversary of the circus and its appeal as a subject for visual artists. Featuring paintings, drawings, photographs, ceramics and sculpture by artists currently working alongside the circus community.


The Academy of Circus Arts and the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre present Circus Life: Art and Artistes.

The art form of circus was invented by impresario and trick horse rider Philip Astley in London in 1768. Its skills, traditions and iconography, as well as its global community of dedicated performers, have provided inspiration for the work of countless artists including Seurat, Renoir, Degas and Picasso.

This new exhibition celebrates the 250th anniversary of Astley's remarkable creation; investigating circus' continuing appeal as a subject for visual artists through the eyes of recent and contemporary British practitioners. Their work has captured the people, places and performances which combine to make circus a unique way of life as well as a universally accessible form of live entertainment.

Featuring paintings, drawings, photographs, films, ceramics and sculpture by artists currently working alongside the circus community, including Peter Lavery, Kate Stone, John Stillman, Abel Kesteven and Curtis Tappenden; as well as prints by Laura Knight, and pieces by Clarice Cliff and Clifford Hall.

Programme of events:

7 November - Exhibition private viewing and reception 6-8pm. Book your tickets here. All Welcome!

This evening will include circus skills demonstrations and the opportunity to meet some of the exhibiting artists.

10 November - Circus Life: Circus on Screen 2-5pm. This special programme of circus-themed films includes a number of short "back stage" documentary pieces about circus life, followed by a 90th anniversary screening of Charlie Chaplin's 1928 silent classic The Circus. Book your tickets now!

12 November - Circus Life: Cultures and Communities 7.30-9pm. This panel discussion will be hosted by Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre's Fellow Julius Green. Offering a unique opportunity to meet with performers from the traditional circus community and discuss their life and work. Book your tickets now!

6 December - Circus life: Why we should all run away with the circus 7.00-8.30pm. Join Dr Dea Birkett and Professor Ron Beadle at our finale event as they look to the future and discuss why we should all run away with the circus.


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