The Marvelosa exhibition marks the 20th anniversary year of the National Fairground Archive (NFA) based at the University of Sheffield’s Western Bank Library, which is a unique and world-famous collection of photographic, printed, manuscript and audiovisual material covering all aspects of the culture of travelling show people, their community and social history.
Critically acclaimed artists Anthony Bennett, Mark Copeland, (in partnership with Sarah Munro), Paul Evans, Florence Blanchard and Pete McKee have also created new works which reflect the rich heritage of the popular entertainment world that the NFA preserves.
Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of the National Fairground Archive, said: “Since its inception in 1994, the NFA has attracted the attention and support of artists who have used our collections as inspiration for their own work.
“We have worked with artists in Blackpool, Margate, London and New York, utilising their vision and talent to tell the story of the Archive.
“In this 20th year it seemed fitting to commission new works of art inspired by the collections and each was paired with a part of the Archive.”
The NFA has enjoyed a long association with the ‘Showman Sculpture‘ Antony Bennett, whose work has included sculptures of America showman and businessman PT Barnum and the Great Omi who was a professional freak and side show performer who was also known as the Zebra Man because of his distinctive tattoos. Here Bennett pays tribute to the skill and craftsmanship of the greatest fairground carvers from the firm of Orton & Spooner of Burton upon Trent.
The Archive also has a long-standing association with Mark Copeland and Sarah Munroe, artists, designers and creators of a curious world of make-believe and wonder. They have been inspired by a speciality act and have a love of the dedicated performers who spent their entire performing life perfecting six to eight minutes of sheer brilliance. These acts, which were once top of the bill, are now largely forgotten and are only recalled through the remnants of their careers preserved in scrapbooks and ephemera.
The exhibition is open to visitors seven days a week from 10 September 2014 to 8 January 2015. For more information about opening times please visit www.shef.ac.uk/library/exhibition