Belfast-born artist John Luke, whose work is currently on display at the Ulster Museum in a stunning comprehensive retrospective, drew inspiration in the rich circus tradition in art history to create his 1950 masterpiece, ‘The Rehearsal’.
So striking is the painting, in fact, that the Belfast Community Circus School is bringing it to life, literally, by running a workshop at the Ulster Museum on Saturday 1 December for 8 to 16 year olds. This fun workshop will include hoop and scarf juggling, skills that can be admired in the painting.
‘The Rehearsal’ was essentially a commission to demonstrate the tempera technique and consisted of 3 three parts: the working drawings, the final monochrome underpainting and the colour painting. This magnificent piece has only been displayed once before in its entirety.
Dr Joseph McBrinn of the University of Ulster, curator of the Luke exhibition, said: “Many modern artists were interested in the circus as a subject – such as Manet, Seurat and Picasso – and also, in Ireland, Jack B. Yeats is famed for his depictions of circus folk and circus life.
“Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Luke showed a professional interest in performances of all sorts, such as ballet and theatre, and he may well have attended local circuses for pleasure and for sketching. Unquestionably, he captures the timeless mood and heroic beauty of the performers caught rehearsing for a later performance.”
Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art at National Museums Northern Ireland, says the Ulster Museum is delighted to offer children this interactive workshop:
“It is a real pleasure to team up with the Belfast Community Circus School to introduce John Luke’s art to children through re-enacting the scene from The Rehearsal painting, just a few feet away from the original work. Combining art, fun and exercise is the perfect way to breathe life into one of Luke’s most evocative works of art.”
Places for the Circus workshop are limited and early booking is essential to avoid disappointment. For further information and bookings visit www.nmni.com/um or telephone 028 9044 0000.