Frame – Circus for Drawing

Want to draw a hula hoop artist, unicyclist or strongwoman?

Frame is a live drawing experience for visitors in galleries, with real circus acts. Visitors are supported by an artist throughout. You don’t need any drawing experience. Frame is for everyone, of any age.

How did we develop Frame?

We wanted to develop a circus event that was made for galleries and involved visitors in an active and involved artistic response.

After consulting with artist educators, we specifically developed acts that can be drawn easily by visitors, to enable them to feel a strong sense of achievement and accomplishment. The Frame acts are highly visual, a little slower than a regular circus act, and involve repetition so visitors have more than one attempt to capture them.

Frame at National Gallery, London

Frame acts are designed to be staged in a gallery setting. They are self-standing and involve no rigging and no mess! The drawing activities are with pens and pencils that involve no water nor liquid paints. Frame is ideal for galleries where there may be a nervousness about including performance activities. It is adaptable to most spaces.

Frame workshop photography above by Chris Henley.

What does Frame look like?

Frame comes in three circus acts which can be programmed at any time during a day or evening – Duo Acro Hoop, StrongWoman and Juggling Unicycle Act. These acts can be staggered throughout the day/evening and repeated if necessary.

Each act is introduced by a an artist and a Ringmistress.

The artist, who is experienced in live drawing, introduces visitors to how they might capture the circus acts. The Ringmistress, in full costume, points to any relevant work/connections with the collection in the gallery and introduces the acts. Visitors can sit on the floor, on chairs with drawing boards/clipboards or at tables. The gallery can remain a fluid space, with people entering and leaving. Each session can last as long as you like – visitors can stay afterwards to finish their drawings. The live artist facilitates them throughout. The performers can stay behind after the act to pose for visitors and for visitors to ask them questions.

We work with Curtis Tappenden, whose live drawing work has been exhibited worldwide. Curtis specialises in live performance drawing, in particular circus. If the museum would prefer to use their own live drawing artist, we can provide the same performances and work with them instead.

Talk about making art fun and accessible? It was great!


Thanks for a great drawing session and giving me confidence to mark the paper.


This is so much fun – new experience – thank you for making it live!


Dea and the whole team at Circus250 were a dream to work with. They intuitively responded to our Laura Knight display and crafted a bespoke experience inspired by her life and drawings, where families could try out the exciting process of sketching performers from life. They were meticulous in planning for our unique spaces and flexible in shaping the performances. Most of all, they beautifully emphasised the interdependence between visual and performing arts. The whole day showed not only how circus is an art in itself, but how it can inspire – and gain inspiration from – other art forms.

Royal Academy of Art, London