The Grundy Art Gallery has announced a summer programme of exhibitions to celebrate 250 years of circus, as part of the UK-wide project Circus250.

Opening from 2-5pm on Saturday 14 July, with talks with photographers Peter Lavery and Luke Stephenson, the exhibitions are completely free of charge and open to all ages.

Circus 250 has nominated Blackpool as one of six cities of circus in the UK to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the very first circus in this country.
The resort is holding a season-long programme of special events including spectacular live entertainment, events and exhibitions.
Bringing together internationally recognised artists, award-winning photographers, locally based talent and internationally significant collections, the Grundy Art Gallery will present a series of exhibitions that explore some of the history, themes, ideas and images associated with circus.

Here is a preview of the line-up of exhibitions for the next three months.

A Clown walks into a gallery…
An exhibition in two parts

Part 1: Luke Stephenson | Helen Champion
 As part of the collection held by the Clowns’ Gallery-Museum is a group of over two hundred and fifty hand painted eggs. These eggs record the painted faces of members of Clowns International and act as a form of copyright register for Clowns.

The gallery will present a selection of Luke’s photographs and Helen’s texts alongside examples of the eggs that they feature.

Part 2: Janice Kerbel, Laura Lancaster, Philip Newcombe, Pilvi Takala and Ulla von Brandenburg.
Five internationally recognised contemporary artists whose works reference the act of performance, the role of disguise and the line between fiction and fact.

Come One, Come All! A Celebration of Blackpool Tower Circus

A collaboration between Blackpool Museum Project and the Grundy Art Gallery, this exhibition draws on the internationally significant Blackpool Tower Circus collection, to explore the acts, the clowns and the audiences of this iconic circus.

#RetiredPerformers Project: The Interval – Claire Griffiths.

The #RetiredPerformers Project is a series of images and audio interviews being captured over 12 months by Blackpool-based photographer, Claire Griffiths.

The Interval is a snapshot mid-way through the project of some of the stories she has gathered from the chauffeurs, dancers, performers and musicians who were active in Blackpool in, and prior to, the 1970’s.

Circus Work 1968-2018: Peter Lavery
For the past 50 years, award-winning photographer Peter Lavery has been photographing circus performers around Britain. Selected from the hundreds of photographs that make up this complete series, this exhibition highlights connections and links to Blackpool’s circus history and includes previously unseen work specially chosen for the presentation at Grundy Art Gallery.


Life as a Circus: Sir Peter Blake

Sir Peter Blake’s ‘Life as a Circus’ comprises two sculptures that were originally commissioned by Blackpool Council and presented as part of The Great Promenade Show. This summer they will be presented at the Grundy Art Gallery for the first time. 

Cllr Luke Taylor, Lead Member for Arts on Blackpool Council, said: “I am looking forward to taking part in Grundy Art Gallery’s packed summer of circus programme.

“These wide-ranging exhibitions and events promise something for all and throw the spotlight on Blackpool’s cultural activity, past and present.”

Talks and events: These exhibitions, which will run from Saturday 14 July – Saturday 8 September, will be supported by a programme of talks, events and workshops. Visit for further details.




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