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Bygone curiosities 
and big-top automata: The Mechanical Circus opens its doors

PUBLISHED: 10:20 04 December 2018

Adelaide and Alba Gilding enjoying The Mechanical Circus exhibition at The Forum, Norwich marking the end of its Norwich Circus 250 celebrations. Photo : Steve Adams

Adelaide and Alba Gilding enjoying The Mechanical Circus exhibition at The Forum, Norwich marking the end of its Norwich Circus 250 celebrations. Photo : Steve Adams

Steve Adams 2018 : 07398 238853

An exhibition of mechanical circus acts and curiosities from bygone big tops opened its doors at the Forum.

The Mechanical Circus exhibition at The Forum, Norwich marking the end of its Norwich Circus 250 celebrations. Photo : Steve AdamsThe Mechanical Circus exhibition at The Forum, Norwich marking the end of its Norwich Circus 250 celebrations. Photo : Steve Adams

The Mechanical Circus will welcome visitors to the Forum gallery from 10am until 4pm daily until January 27, offering an eclectic array of interactive exhibits and hands on automata.

The free exhibition was curated by Cabaret Mechanical Theatre UK and Dutch museum Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, and marks 250 years since the first modern circus opened its curtains.

The automated models were created by a host of artists across two decades, each boasting their own quirky design and intricate routine.

Visitors bring them to life via big red buttons, with the metal clogs and levers responsible for making them dance visible beneath their beautifully moulded exteriors.

The Mechanical Circus exhibition at The Forum, Norwich marking the end of its Norwich Circus 250 celebrations. Photo : Steve AdamsThe Mechanical Circus exhibition at The Forum, Norwich marking the end of its Norwich Circus 250 celebrations. Photo : Steve Adams

Individually the pieces are intriguing to examine but as a collection they make for a striking and atmospheric experience, akin to walking into a Victorian circus tent.

As well as the mechanical circus acts, the exhibition offers visitors the chance to have photos taken with their head between a lions jaw or as a strong man grappling with an iron bar.

Richard Fair, events manager at the Forum, said the exhibition was one of the most exciting the venue had hosted so far.

He said: “We always try to do something that’s not to do with Christmas to give people a bit of a break from it but is still bright and colourful and fun.”

Most of the models were created using recycled materials, including a show stealing metallic peacock, complete with a jewel toned tail plume which opens to a full fan when activated.

Mr Fair added: “The exhibition has taken three and a half days to set up and judging by the reaction of people looking through the curtains we expect visitors to experience the wow factor.”

Norwich hosted several events to mark 250 years since equestrian showman Philip Astley launched the first modern circus, including a circus themed Lord Mayor’s procession and the Forum’s Jugglers, Clowns and Fliers exhibition in June.

For more information visit www.theforumnorwich.co.uk/whatson/

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