• Photo: Hugo Glendinning

  • Photo: Tom Swindell

Circus Originals

Circus Originals is an exhibition at Somerset House exploring the history of contemporary circus from the 1800s to the pioneers and new thinkers who have transformed the circus world today.

In addition to a static display, it features a selection of Circus Post films commissioned by The Space during the Cultural Olympiad in 2012 which focus on notable international circus practitioners including one of Morocco’s oldest circus dynasties  and Phia Ménard, the groundbreaking artistic director of Compagnie Non Nova.

Rose English is in conversation with Stine Hebert on 7 August to complement her  compelling new installation, Remember This! and there will be a screening of Even When I Fall, a riveting film about the young members of Circus Kathmandu, on 31 July.

Located in the East Wing Galleries, Circus Originals runs from 25 July – 7 August and is part of Circus Sampler – two free weekends of contemporary circus, hip hop dance and music in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court.

All events are free but booking is essential for Even When I Fall and Rose English in conversation with Stine Hebert.

  • Circus Originals playlist


  • Even When I Fall | Screening Room | Tue 31 July | 6.30pm

    A screening of the film Even When I Fall, a 2018 film by Sky Neal and Kat McLarnon, followed by a Q&A with Kat McLarnon.

    This incredible documentary tells the story of young trafficking survivors who reclaim their performance skills by forming Nepal’s first circus, Circus Kathmandu.

    Travel with them as they piece together their broken memories in the Kathmandu Valley, through poverty-stricken border towns of the Terai plains and finally to the famous Big Top at Glastonburgh Festival.

    An intimate, beautiful and uplifting film that harnesses the visual power of circus to give a unique perspective into the complex world of human trafficking.

    Free but booking is essential.

  • Rose English in conversation with Stine Hebert | East Wing Galleries | Tue 7 August | 6.30pm

    Art curator Stine Hebert speaks with artist Rose English about her work.

    Rose English emerged from the conceptual art, dance and feminist scenes of 1970s Britain to become one of the most influential performance artists working today.

    Danish curator, art historian and Dean of Oslo Academy of Fine Art, Stine Hebert talks to Rose about her uniquely inter-disciplinary work which combines elements of theatre, circus, opera and poetry.

    Free but booking is essential.

  • Rose English

    Rose English emerged from the Conceptual art, dance and feminist scenes of 1970’s Britain to become one of the most influential performance artists working today. Her uniquely interdisciplinary work combines elements of theatre, circus, opera and poetry to explore themes of gender politics, the identity of the performer and the metaphysics of presence.

    English has mounted performances in ice rinks; at the Royal Court Theatre and Tate Britain, London and Franklin Furnace, New York; and collaborated with horses, magicians and acrobats. Her work ranges from her site-specific performances and collaborations of the 1970s including Quadrille, Berlin and Mounting, her acclaimed solos of the 1980s including Plato’s Chair and The Beloved to her large scale spectaculars of the 1990s including Walks on Water, The Double Wedding and Tantamount Esperance. Her internationally celebrated solo with a horse – My Mathematics – was produced by Cultural Industry and a series of vignettes with horses were presented by The Banff Centre, Canada and The Serpentine Gallery, London. Ornamental Happiness – a show in song and circus opened the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2006 followed by Flagrant Wisdom, commissioned by National Glass Centre in 2009. English co-wrote and designed the feature film The Gold Diggers, 1983 directed by Sally Potter; digitally re-mastered and released on BFI DVD in 2009.

    English’s performance works of the 1970s featured in the exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 2007. Her installation Quadrille was shown at Freize Masters, London, 2013 with Karsten Schubert, and is now part of the Tate collection. Recent solo exhibitions include The Eros of Understanding, 2014 at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen and A Premonition of the Act, 2015 at Camden Arts Centre, London.

    Her awards include the Time Out Performance Award, the Wingate Scholarship and the Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists.

  • Funders

    With the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

    With the support of Institut français.

    Circus250: Diverse • Real • Physical is a European collaboration between Crying Out Loud, Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde, Subtopia and Cork Midsummer Festival