Imre Kiralfy of Earl’s Court: From Showman To Impresario
Prior to the opening of our current exhibition, The Future Rewound & The Cabinet Of Souls, artist Nadia Kaabi-Linke asked The Mosaic Rooms to look into the history of the building. The building was discovered to be the former residence of Imre Kiralfy, the man responsible for many of the grand exhibitions at Earls Court, White City and Olympia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Kiralfy brought curiosities from all parts of the global empire to England, where the Victorian public was eager to view such spectacles.
This discovery directly inspired Kaabi-Linke to produce the new commission, Faces, which responds to the “Savage South Africa” spectacle that formed part of Kiralfy’s Greater Britain Exhibition in 1899; and A Colour of Time which materialises the remnants left behind from Kiralfy’s time in the architecture of the building itself.
Brendan Gregory will talk about the man who lived here from 1896-1919 and the amazing breadth and ambition of his work. This talk will shed light on Kiralfy’s Victorian Earl’s Court exhibition center and the scale of it’s attractions, from the magnitude of its different sites; to the 50ft high painted backdrop and scenery that surrounded its periphery; to the attractions it comprised of like the themed boating lake, Canadian water chute and Ferris Wheel; to the Empress Theatre, the largest covered space in London aside from St Pancras Station. It will also look at the nine exhibitions and their accompanying spectacles devised by Kiralfy. The evening will reveal a fascinating history little known to today’s audiences.
Brendan Gregory has a Ph.D in Theatre Studies from University of Manchester, his thesis was on Kiralfy’s work. He has taught in various universities, including University of Manchester, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Denison University, Ohio. He co-authored Acts of Supremacy – The British Empire and the Stage 1790 – 1930.
This event is part of Nour Festival of Arts.