Layla Bloom, Curator of The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery writes about an exciting new artistic installation in the Brotherton Library.


A new arrival has appeared on the RECENTLY RETURNED shelf of the Brotherton Library Enquiries Office. The Time Travelling Circus: A Dossier Concerning Pablo Fanque and the Electrolier revised to include the Electrolier’s Accession and other variations by Katrina Palmer has been tagged and positioned for willing readers in the Library.

Reading will not be a passive experience.  The reader will become an audience member of the TTC (Time Travelling Circus), following the stories of Pablo Fanque, pioneering 19th century circus proprietor and his ill-fated wife Susannah. Reflections by the Ring Mistress, and notes by the Special Collector and Admissions Officer punctuate and propel a narrative across time and space – the space of the Brotherton Reading Room. The giant electrolier hanging in the centre of the round room takes on a life of its own, becoming a performer within a circus ring. As the construction of time and the fabric of the Library begins to disintegrate, the reader will sense the danger, but be compelled to stay.  The dossier follows the bodies to their graves in St George’s Fields, located on the University campus. Silent tears will be shed.

Katrina Palmer is an artist who uses words. Words are spoken, printed and sculpted into multi-dimensional journeys in time and space. The Time Travelling Circus is the result of her research into Fanque and St George’s Fields whilst she was in Leeds working on her exhibition The Necropolitan Line for the Henry Moore Institute (2015). Previous books include The Dark Object (2010), The Fabricator’s Tale (2014) and End Matter (2015), published by Book Works. End Matter, commissioned by Artangel and BBC Radio 4, was set on Portland, and was accompanied by a radio play, The Quarryman’s Daughters, and an audio walk around Portland, The Loss Adjustors.

This special artist’s edition of The Time Travelling Circus will be available to readers in the Brotherton Library until October 2018.  Find it in the Enquiries Office during staffed hours.

A shorter version has been published by the Henry Moore Institute, and is available for sale online and at the HMI.