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About the Art: Andrew George

Our new exhibition, European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, runs until 15 January 2017. Here we talk to photographer Andrew George about his work. 

  • About the Art: Andrew George, Dancing with the Moon on display at the Horniman,  Andrew George
    Dancing with the Moon on display at the Horniman,  Andrew George

You have two pictures in this exhibition, 'Dancing with the Moon' and 'Umbrella'. Start by telling us a little about your winter scene with the dazzling northern lights. How long did you have to wait to capture the light in the way you wanted for ‘Dancing with the Moon’?

I only had to wait between one to two hours. I’ve examined the weather and aurora forecast carefully and all the signs where very promising. Since I often travel to Iceland, I know the best spots to photograph the northern lights. At the time, I was not far from Reykjavik and on my way to the airport when I knew I had a good chance at taking pictures at a nearby non-tourist spot by some mountains which would block the city lights.

  • About the Art: Andrew George, The northern lights in Iceland, March 2016,  Andrew George
    The northern lights in Iceland, March 2016,  Andrew George
To get my shot, I used a sturdy tripod and a wide-angle lens with a fast F-stop (Nikon 14-24 F2.8) on a Nikon D800 and a cable release. I also wore very warm clothing and snow boots. The weather can be very extreme in 'special' conditions such as these. It is a very difficult task to stay dry or warm in cold regions of the earth. Also, the equipment sometimes needs protection from severe weather.

  • About the Art: Andrew George, A picture of Andrew George taking photographs in the High Fens, Belgium Ardennes,  Andrew George
    A picture of Andrew George taking photographs in the High Fens, Belgium Ardennes,  Andrew George

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I hope they get inspired and have a new respect for nature.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

For wildlife photography, you need to do research, observe and gain knowledge about your subject. You also need to have perseverance.  I love to photograph landscapes in any form. I also like to photograph small and common subjects in an artistic way. But it’s getting harder and harder to create natural nature and wildlife photography. I always need to recompose to not have the human element in the frame.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition? What projects are you working on now?

I always get new inspiration through nature close to home and photograph with an open mind. So I often get surprised and sometimes I work on one thing for only a short period of time with a creative perspective. But recently I’m working on a project 'Dances with Trees' in the Speulderbos, Veluwe, The Netherlands. The beech trees in this forest are curved and long. But also trees in general really attract me.

  • About the Art: Andrew George, A selfportrait in the Dutch forest (Speulderbos, Veluwe, The Netherlands) from the 'Dances with trees' project 2016 ,  Andrew George
    A selfportrait in the Dutch forest (Speulderbos, Veluwe, The Netherlands) from the 'Dances with trees' project 2016 ,  Andrew George

I also try to get out of my comfort zone and I just started to work on a project 'Inspired by Van Gogh', The Dutch painter, as I live close to the scenes Vincent van Gogh has painted in The Netherlands (Nuenen, Noord-Brabant) both natural environment and buildings which Van Gogh also has painted.

  • About the Art: Andrew George, Umbrella on display at the Horniman,  Andrew George
    Umbrella on display at the Horniman,  Andrew George

Read more photography tips from Andrew.

About the art: Jazmine Miles-Long

We chat to ethical taxidermist and artist, Jazmine Miles-Long, about her new display 'Memorial. A Tribute to Taxidermy'.

  • Woodcock, Woodcock detail − ©  Jazmine Miles-Long
    Woodcock detail

Your new display takes its inspiration from the Horniman collection. What made you want to mirror an historic collection in this way?

The pieces I have chosen from the Horniman's collection all have their own eccentricities, even though they are not the most beautiful and striking works that I could have picked. I wanted to show some of the objects from the collection that would not necessarily have the chance to be put on public display as others within the collection do outshine them. I wanted to show that each piece of taxidermy has a history and charm that should be appreciated.

By creating replicas of the works, I wanted to focus attention on the details of the objects, from the decisions made by the taxidermists, to the labels added over time by museums. 

Through the use of white cases and delicate porcelain, I have created ghostly monuments of the originals. Silhouetting my own specimens to commemorate their beauty and fragility in life and now as objects representing their species.

  • Ceramic case, Building the ceramics into the case − ©  Jazmine Miles-Long
    Building the ceramics into the case

What do you want people to think when they see these artworks side by side?

I want them to be drawn into the makers behind the works and notice the taxidermy throughout the museum. Seeing the works as intricately crafted objects rather than simply preserved dead animals.

Taxidermy is such an unknown craft that I think it is often misunderstood. Through this exhibition, I hope to challenge perceptions and present the many skills taxidermists need to create work.

  • Woodcock, Painting the woodcock's leg − ©  Jazmine Miles-Long
    Painting the woodcock's leg

I hope to portray taxidermy as a heartfelt art form that shows compassion for the natural world and its importance as an evolving craft still used today.

I only work with animals that have died from natural causes or as the result of road casualties. And although many pieces within historical museum collections would have been hunted, it does not mean we should dismiss these objects as they are useful educational tools that speak of a different time and are part of our cultural heritage.

  •  Rabbit, Horniman and Jazmine's rabbits next to each other. − ©  Jazmine Miles-Long
    Horniman and Jazmine's rabbits next to each other.

How did you decide which pieces to include in this exhibition?

When taxidermy is donated to a museum, information such as the name of the taxidermist, the collector and time and mode of death of the animal is not always recorded. So over time the story behind the work is often lost. This lack of information creates an air of mystery behind the work and this influenced my decision in choosing these five specimens. For instance, the magpie has obviously been lovingly made, in the groundwork of the piece even false rocks have been sculpted out of paper. But there is no information about the artefact apart from that is was presented to The Horniman in 1961. And so the story behind this magpie and its creator is most probably lost forever.

For instance, the magpie has obviously been lovingly made, in the groundwork of the piece even false rocks have been sculpted out of paper. But there is no information about the artefact apart from that is was presented to The Horniman in 1961. And so the story behind this magpie and its creator is most probably lost forever.

  • Magpie, Magpie in process − ©  Jazmine Miles-Long
    Magpie in process

What is your favourite piece of taxidermy from our collection?

I love all of the work in the collection by Edward Hart, his ability to create such vast scenes in small cases and his attention to detail is astonishing. My favourite is probably the two European Robins in a winter scene. The case is as picturesque as a christmas card, but it has a sinister twist. One of the robins is singing or possibly calling a warning, as the other looks inside of the brick bird trap that he is perched upon. The story within the case pulls you into a seemingly quaint scenario, either the robins know what this trap is or everything is about to go wrong.

  • Robins, Two robins from Edward Hart's collection at the Horniman− ©  Jazmine Miles-Long
    Two robins from Edward Hart's collection at the Horniman

See Memorial. A Tribute to Taxidermy on display in our Natural History Gallery until 1 May 2017.

Forest Hill Scarf Festival

The Horniman Walrus inspires Forest Hill’s sixth annual Scarf Festival.

A haberdashery and craft emporium local to the Horniman, Stag & Bow, is holding their sixth annual Scarf Festival this week.

  • Forest Hill Scarf Festival , The Forest Hill Scarf Festival, Stag & Bow
    The Forest Hill Scarf Festival, Stag & Bow

Every year they invite customers to join in their celebration of making based on a different theme. The subject of this year’s theme is the Horniman Walrus.

The designs people have sent in are displayed in the shop window all week until Saturday 10 December.

Business owner Pascale Spall says ‘The Horniman Museum is a south London institution and a key Forest Hill landmark. We wanted to pay homage to its most famous exhibit. Having grown up in the area the museum holds a special place in my heart; my parents took us there as children and now we take our kids. We know it’s just as special to other lovely locals, so it was an obvious choice as a subject for this year’s festival.’

  • The Horniman Walrus, The Horniman Walrus, inspiring the local community
    The Horniman Walrus, inspiring the local community

The festival will culminate in a joint sixth birthday celebration for Stag & Bow, and a prize-giving event for the most inspiring creations.

This year’s guest hosts will include our very own Kirsten Walker, Director of Collections Care and Estates and Timothy Spall, patron of the Horniman and local national treasure.

Why not pop down and join in the fun at Stag & Bow where celebrations will be held throughout the day on Saturday 10 December.

Specimen of the Month: an un-iconic icon, the robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Emma-Louise Nicholls, our Deputy Keeper of Natural History, is looking at the robin, and its associations with Christmas, for her Specimen of the Month series.

'Robins are well known to be one of the traditional cover models of Christmas card multipacks. An icon of Christmas in the UK, the robin is only meant to appear when the festive lights are up, The Grinch is on TV, and the shops become a hostile habitat visited only by the brave, followed a week later by the disorganised.

  • Specimen of the Month: an Un-iconic Icon: The Robin (Erithacus rubecula), The robins, delicately painted background and realistic looking snow make our diorama by Edward Hart a picture perfect Christmas scene*
    The robins, delicately painted background and realistic looking snow make our diorama by Edward Hart a picture perfect Christmas scene*

But robins live in the UK throughout the year. Why then do we associate them with Christmas? There are a number of theories…

According to the RSPB, robins spend December roaming around the neighbourhood, looking for a mate to settle down with in the New Year, a resolution that’s mirrored by many humans. This extra movement around Christmas time, and presumably, the extra effort they put into showing off their musical talents, simply makes them more visible to the untrained human passer-by.

Following on from this line of reasoning, robins are also more ‘in your face’ around Christmas because they are one of the only birds that don’t suffer from Seasonally Affected Disorder** and thus continue their cheery singing even though the clocks have gone back and going to the toilet in the middle of the night is a race against frostbite.

In the winter, robins are also one of the earliest to start singing in the morning and one of the last to stop singing at night. They sound like neighbours from hell.

  • Specimen of the Month blog category, Robins sing to attracts a mate and to let other robins know this is its territory,  Wikinature, 2005, image in public domain
    Robins sing to attracts a mate and to let other robins know this is its territory,  Wikinature, 2005, image in public domain

An entirely different theory is that the association comes from the first postmen in the UK, who used to wear bright red waistcoats. They were, for obvious reasons of visual association, therefore nicknamed 'Robins'. Whilst the festive season is certainly a busy time for these robin-people, surely it’s not the only time of year in which they were employed? Personally, I find this association somewhat tenuous. However if you’d like a challenge, I will happily eat my blog if sufficient evidence is produced to support this claim.

Maybe the question should really be, would they be better off representing a different holiday? Unlike Father Christmas who is categorically absent for the rest of the year (supermarket shelves in October aside), the robin clearly raises its family with a staycation mentality. They may remind you of a time when everyone is obliged to be happy to see their extended family, and be nicer to fellow commuters, but the robin is an aggressive bird that when required transforms into a small, vicious, wing-ed nightmare that will fight other robins to the death if needs be. Call me a traditionalist, but that’s not very Christmas spirit-y. So in short, next time you’re selecting Christmas cards, perhaps you should go for the snowman.

  • Specimen of the Month: an Un-iconic Icon: The Robin (Erithacus rubecula), The robin is widely used as a pin-up for Christmas cards,  Hisgett, 2010, image in public domain
    The robin is widely used as a pin-up for Christmas cards,  Hisgett, 2010, image in public domain

*This diorama is just masquerading as a beautiful Christmas scene. If you look closer, the bricks the robin is standing on are actually a Victorian sparrow trap. If the robin went for the seed inside, the little stick would budge and BAM. Lights out Christmas robin.

**It is unknown if SAD affects any avian species.'

References

ARKive. (No date). Robin (Erithacus rubecula).

Horniman Museum and Gardens. (No date). Zoology: Edward Hart Collection

RSPB. (No date). Birds and Wildlife: Robin.

RSPB. (2009). Birds and Wildlife: Ask an Expert.

Giving Tuesday

Did you know the Horniman is a charity? Today, #GivingTuesday, is a global day of giving created to celebrate the charitable sector and the good work it does.

We welcomed more than 900,000 people through our doors this year – what do you do when you visited the Horniman?

  • Giving Tuesday, We have around 9,500 Musical Instruments in our collection representing music making around the world.
    We have around 9,500 Musical Instruments in our collection representing music making around the world.

Were you part of a school group visit? We teach 25,000 school children a year in special lessons focusing on subjects like Ancient Egypt and Evolution. We also have self-led groups of school children visiting us to see our Walrus and to learn about natural history, world cultures and musical instruments.

Maybe you have been to one of our community group sessions? We have worked with 39 groups this year including our Youth Panel. Our Youth Panel is a great way for young visitors to get involved at the Horniman, plan events and meet new people. So far this year they have met 31 times and eaten around 1,500 slices of pizza.

Have you been to our Hands on Base to handle a hedgehog or try on a snow leopard costume? Last year we had more than 22,000 people with family and community groups exploring our handling collection.

  • Giving Tuesday, Our Hands on Base has more than 3500 which you can pick up and handle. ,  Magan Tylor
    Our Hands on Base has more than 3500 which you can pick up and handle. ,  Magan Tylor

You can’t have visited the Horniman without walking through our beautiful Gardens. We hold a large number of free events and activities in our Gardens every year. This year’s highlights were our fantastic Festa Julina and our Horniman Carnival.

Maybe you have come here with your little ones. Our Busy Bees sessions are always popular. This year we have held 195 of these free sessions for almost 5,000 under five-year-olds. These sessions cost us around £15,000 every year.

Perhaps you have visited our Aquarium. Our Aquarium is doing ground-breaking research reproducing coral in captivity as part of Project Coral.

  • Giving Tuesday, This year we celebrated another success for Project Coral as our reef-building coral spawned in the Aquarium.
    This year we celebrated another success for Project Coral as our reef-building coral spawned in the Aquarium.

Tell us your favourite thing about the Horniman on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by tagging #horniman.

Donate to the Horniman and help us keep running all the events and activities you love.

About the Art: Richard Peters

Our new exhibition, European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, opens 26 November. To celebrate, we chat to Richard Peters about his winning photograph, 'Shadow Walker'.

  • Shadow Walker, 'Shadow Walker', winner of European Photographer of the Year 2015,  Richard Peters
    'Shadow Walker', winner of European Photographer of the Year 2015,  Richard Peters

Tell us the story behind your winning photograph ‘Shadow Walker’. 

For a while, we had no security light at the back of our house so I shone a torch from the back door to see what was going on outside. One evening, a fox walked out along the side of the shed and through the torch light. In doing so it cast a shadow on the shed and as soon as I saw that I knew it would make a great image if I could capture just the shadow of the subject. 

It took six months from that initial idea to finally figure out how best to capture the image in a way that helped convey the notion that foxes come out and forage in the shadows just as the human world is going to sleep. I wanted a clear sky to show the stars, which required a night with little to no moonlight, the shadow needed to be both perfectly placed and positioned and a finishing touch was the neighbouring light being left on.

Using a camera trap was the only way to capture the desired photo, meaning I had to pre-visualise the photo and set the camera accordingly. With all those elements needing to come together, it was a frustrating photo to take, with many failed attempts before it all finally came together.

Did you get to know the foxes in your local area before taking the shot?

We moved into our house a year before I started photographing the local foxes. Actually, for the first year of living there I didn’t even know we had a local population as I never saw any. Then one weekend, a friend stayed the night and commented how he had seen a fox in the garden early the next morning. After that revelation, I started to pay more attention to what was going on outside and what wildlife I could attract to the garden with bird feeders and fresh water.

In doing this, the local foxes started to pay more attention to the garden and so I put a trail camera out to monitor the activity further. In doing that I also discovered I had badgers visiting the garden too!

The entire process of photographing them became a year long project I called Back Garden Safari, which spawned an ebook and popular talk.

  • Intersecting Worlds, 'Intersecting Worlds',  Richard Peters
    'Intersecting Worlds',  Richard Peters

Did you use any particular equipment?

My camera bag is no doubt very similar to many other photographers with a selection of DSLR’s, lenses and various accessories. I’ve always used Nikon equipment, currently shooting with two D810’s as my main bodies, but aside from the typical kit I also use camera traps occasionally to try and capture images that wouldn’t be possible with conventional methods.

I try not to limit myself to one particular type of shot, however, which is why I use a variation of traditional and camera trap methods, depending on the circumstances.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

Although I shoot first and foremost to satisfy my own artistic vision, I would like to hope the style of my work connects on some form of emotional level with the viewer. I hope it can inspire them give more thought to a species under threat or to their local environment and how wildlife is being forced to adapt to survive.

If it can have an impact on even one percent of people who view my work, and that emotional connection prompts them to take action in their own little way to help preserve the planet's wildlife, I would be thrilled.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I’ve always had a natural creative streak, favouring art and design over more academic subjects. I also grew up watching natural history documentaries in which I remember always being amazed by the sights they would show. Then, when a friend gave me an old film camera to play with it was only a matter of time before my creative side and enjoyment of the natural world came together.

I then dipped in and out of photography over the years as it remained a hobby against my day job in the media industry. Then about six years ago it became a more serious endeavour and I started committing more time and effort into capturing images.

Eventually, a set of circumstances all came together at the right time enabling me to switch my career path to fully embrace photography.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Absolutely do it. Local wildlife can be just as inspiring and photogenic as species found on the other side of the world.

Paying attention to your local environment and what lives within it can help you tune into your surroundings and appreciate them in a way you may not have thought possible.

Spend time in your garden, a local park or any outside space. Sit, wait, watch and listen. You’ll be amazed how much wildlife is actually all around you on a daily basis. Use these familiar subjects to practice your composition, exposure and understanding of how to adapt to the light.

What are your favourite animals to photograph?

I always feel like it’s a slight deflection of the question when I answer this but in truth, I’m far more interested in the mood, drama or visual appeal of the photo than I am the subject within it.

That being said, I’ve always favoured mammals over birds although I must admit I’d never turn down the opportunity to photograph an owl or raptor of some sort.

I have a really strong desire to visit Alaska and photograph the bears out there, so finding the right opportunity to do that is definitely high on the list.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition?

A year on and I’ve been keeping very busy indeed. I’ve been co-hosting workshops in Greece, Skomer Island and Africa, as well as running one-to-one tuition days, hosted talks ranging from the Natural History Museum to The Photography Show and, a career highlight, was asked to join Nikon UK’s Ambassador programme. I’ve also been building up a relationship with the Surrey Wildlife Trust over the year and hope to do some more work with them in due course, which would be great as it means working more in my local county. I was also asked to be one of the contributing photographers for the Born Free Foundations' Remembering Elephants book project, aimed at raising awareness and funds for elephant conservation. Then, of course, the garden has also continued to repay me for my efforts with four other images going on to be awarded in various competitions. More recently, I’ve been planning an exhibition in collaboration with the WWF-UK. It’s been an enjoyable and busy year!

Running from Monday 28 November - Friday 2 December, my exhibition Art in Nature, from Surrey to Africa is open with free admission at the home of the WWF-UK, the Living Planet Centre, in Woking, Surrey. Furthermore, I’ll be holding a talk at the same venue on Wednesday 30th.

  • Lioness, 'Lioness',  Richard Peters
    'Lioness',  Richard Peters

See more of Richard's work on his website and see his winning photograph, 'Shadow Walker', on display at the Horniman from 26 November 2016 - 15 January 2017. 

Send us photos of your local wildlife on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #horniman

The first wedding at the Horniman

In honour of Explore Your Archive Week, we are marking a very special wedding anniversary.

This month 130 years ago, Emslie Horniman, the son of the Horniman's founder, married his sweetheart Laura Isabel Plomer. The two wed on the 16 November 1886 at St George’s, Hanover Square, held their reception at the family home Surrey Mount, and led the wedding party in an "inspection" of Surrey House Museum which was the original site of the Horniman.

We recently unearthed a scrapbook in our Archives containing photographs, press cuttings and other souvenirs recording the earliest years of the Horniman. One of the highlights of the scrapbook is a beautiful wedding programme printed for guests attending Emslie and Laura’s wedding celebrations. The programme gives us a wonderful look at how wealthy Victorian families celebrated their nuptials.

  • The wedding of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer, An illustrated page from the programme given to guests attending the wedding reception and banquet of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer on 16th November 1886 at Surrey Mount, the Horniman family home.
    An illustrated page from the programme given to guests attending the wedding reception and banquet of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer on 16th November 1886 at Surrey Mount, the Horniman family home.

  • The wedding of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer, A sketch of Surrey Mount from the wedding programme of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer. Surrey Mount was the home of the Horniman family.
    A sketch of Surrey Mount from the wedding programme of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer. Surrey Mount was the home of the Horniman family.

What is especially fascinating about this piece of Horniman history is that this wedding almost never happened at all.

Emslie Horniman was born in 1863, the second child of Frederick John Horniman and Rebekah Horniman. He studied at the Slade School of Art with dreams of becoming an artist, before later taking up a career in politics and philanthropy.

  • Emslie Horniman, A photograph of Emslie Horniman, dated circa 1890, from the Horniman Museum Archives.
    A photograph of Emslie Horniman, dated circa 1890, from the Horniman Museum Archives.

Laura Plomer was the daughter of Colonel Arthur Plomer. Our historic visitors’ books show that Laura and her family were frequent visitors to the Horniman in the early 1880s. It was there she socialised with Emslie and his older sister Annie.

  • Laura Plomer, A photograph of Laura Plomer, dated circa 1890, from the Horniman Museum Archives.
    A photograph of Laura Plomer, dated circa 1890, from the Horniman Museum Archives.

In his autobiography, Double Lives (published in 1944), Laura’s nephew William Plomer describes how Laura’s family disapproved of her relationship with Emslie. According to William, Laura’s parents thought of Emslie as ‘an atheist and a radical’ and considered the Horniman family to be of inadequate social status despite their extensive wealth and connections.

His autobiography goes on to tell us that Laura’s parents went so far as to lock their daughter in her room in the hope that she would ‘come to her senses’ and end their relationship. Not so easily thwarted, Laura decided to stay in contact with Emslie by letter. But there was one problem: her parents had cut her off from their money and she had no access to postage stamps.

  • Laura Plomer, A photograph of a young Laura Plomer, dated circa 1880, before her marriage to Emslie Horniman. The image shows her famously long head of fair hair, which she apparently cut and sold so she could afford to send letters to Emslie during their courtship.
    A photograph of a young Laura Plomer, dated circa 1880, before her marriage to Emslie Horniman. The image shows her famously long head of fair hair, which she apparently cut and sold so she could afford to send letters to Emslie during their courtship.

Still determined, Laura used the one asset at her disposal: her magnificent head of fair hair. After cutting off a generous lock of her own hair, she escaped her home to sell it to a Mayfair wigmaker and used the payment to purchase stamps.

Realising their daughter would not bend to their wishes, Colonel Plomer and his wife finally consented to her union with Emslie. William Plomer writes that ‘[Laura] went off with a new name to a new life with her radical aesthete, and enjoyed, for the next half-century or so, health, wealth and much happiness’.

Laura and Emslie’s wedding programme, which survives in our Archive collection, lists the toasts and speeches made in honour of the happy couple. Also featured is a seating plan and a menu boasting delights such as ‘York Ham’ and ‘Crystal Palace puddings’.

  • The wedding of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer, A programme of toasts and dancing for the wedding banquet of Emslie and Laura Horniman in 1886.
    A programme of toasts and dancing for the wedding banquet of Emslie and Laura Horniman in 1886.

  • The wedding of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer, The seating plan for guests to the wedding banquet of Emslie and Laura Horniman in 1886 at Surrey Mount.
    The seating plan for guests to the wedding banquet of Emslie and Laura Horniman in 1886 at Surrey Mount.

  • The wedding of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer, A menu for the wedding banquet of Emslie and Laura Horniman in 1886.
    A menu for the wedding banquet of Emslie and Laura Horniman in 1886.

The programme contains extraordinary sketches and meticulous descriptions of the bride’s dress and veil, which she fastened with diamond stars gifted to her by Emslie’s mother. Alongside this is a sketch of the dress worn by Emslie’s sister Annie, which Emslie had designed especially for her.

  • The wedding of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer, A sketch of Laura Horniman in her wedding gown. The caption describes her white silk dress and jewellery, as well as the travelling dress she wore after the wedding.
    A sketch of Laura Horniman in her wedding gown. The caption describes her white silk dress and jewellery, as well as the travelling dress she wore after the wedding.

  • The wedding of Emslie Horniman and Laura Plomer, A sketch of Annie Horniman, sister of Emslie Horniman, in the dress she wore to her brother's wedding. The caption describes the dress as representing the Venetian style of the early 15th century. The dress was designed for her by her brother. The caption also describes the outfit worn by their mother Rebekah Horniman.
    A sketch of Annie Horniman, sister of Emslie Horniman, in the dress she wore to her brother's wedding. The caption describes the dress as representing the Venetian style of the early 15th century. The dress was designed for her by her brother. The caption also describes the outfit worn by their mother Rebekah Horniman.

These celebrations were likely the first time the Horniman had hosted a wedding, but they were certainly not the last. Frederick Horniman’s great, great, great granddaughter Hilary married in the Horniman’s Conservatory in 2014 and the Museum and Gardens are still a popular wedding venue to this day.

  • Emslie and Laura Horniman, A photograph of Laura Horniman stepping out of a carriage with her husband Emslie Horniman holding the door. Underneath is signed 'Laura J. Horniman' 'Emslie J. Horniman. MP 1906-1910'. The original photograph was digitally reproduced by the Horniman Museum with the kind permission of Michael Horniman.
    A photograph of Laura Horniman stepping out of a carriage with her husband Emslie Horniman holding the door. Underneath is signed 'Laura J. Horniman' 'Emslie J. Horniman. MP 1906-1910'. The original photograph was digitally reproduced by the Horniman Museum with the kind permission of Michael Horniman.

Silver Sunday Celebration at the Horniman

Michael, from Community Connections shares his thoughts about Silver Sunday - an annual day of fun and free activities for older people across the UK. 

'We are a group (through Age Concern UK) who met regularly at the Horniman. We take on projects concerning the local area.

Our latest project is called Roots and Branches. It explores the areas in South London where some of our group members live. This covers the area in and around Lewisham, Penge, Forest Hill, Sydenham, Norwood, Anerley, etc. We currently have a small exhibition in the Education Centre at the Horniman.

We decided to celebrate Silver Sunday by opening our research to everybody visiting the Museum. You could listen to our stories by computer or add written memories to our Memory Wall, making up a collage of pictures and writings. We also had a large blown up area map on the wall where people could identify where they live and could attach a thought or picture of their memory to it.

With games and a craft table, the afternoon was a great success for all age groups.

Hope to see you all next year.'

  • Arts and Crafts on local memory, Children and Adults make arts and crafts about local memory.
    Children and Adults make arts and crafts about local memory.

Museum Club: Arts Award Project with Eliot Bank School

The Horniman offers a Museum Club for three different local primary schools. Eliot Bank School’s Museum Club spent last term working towards their Arts Award, Discover level. Learning Assistant, Lucy, writes about the group’s work over the term.

Arts Award encourages children and young people to explore and take part in different art forms, creating a log-book to document their work. The scheme was a perfect fit for our Museum Club format, so we decided to pilot Arts Award with them.

Inspired by both the Horniman’s Festival of Brazil summer season and the beautiful Gardens, we decided to create miniature gardens for the project. Over the course of ten weeks, the group grew their own flowers and herbs from seed with the help of our Gardener, Damien.

  • Museum Club: Arts Award Project with Eliot Bank School, Horniman Gardener, Damien, shows the students how to add plants to their miniature gardens.
    Horniman Gardener, Damien, shows the students how to add plants to their miniature gardens.

Sketching and taking inspiration from the different spaces in the Horniman Gardens, the group designed their own, scavenging for twigs and pebbles to incorporate into their designs.

  • Museum Club: Arts Award Project with Eliot Bank School, Students from Eliot School with their miniature gardens
    Students from Eliot School with their miniature gardens

The Festival of Brazil summer season presented a fantastic opportunity for the group to work with a visiting Brazilian artist to create bandeirinhas (bunting) and to find out about her work, and Brazil, first-hand. They also learnt about Rio’s Selaron Steps, designing patterns and creating colourful mosaics on their plant pots in response.

  • Museum Club: Arts Award Project with Eliot Bank School, Colourful mosaics were added to the plant pots
    Colourful mosaics were added to the plant pots

Finally, Helen our Librarian showed the group one of the Horniman’s rare books: a collection of cyanotypes created by the nineteenth century Botanist and Photographer Anna Atkins. The children were fascinated by her work and loved having the opportunity to see such a special object up-close.

  • Museum Club: Arts Award Project with Eliot Bank School, Students learnt about Brazilian bunting used in festivals, and made some of their own!
    Students learnt about Brazilian bunting used in festivals, and made some of their own!

Having learnt about Atkin’s work and the science behind her cyanotypes, the group created their own (despite the lack of sunshine!) using leaves from the plants they had grown. The following week, the children taught their families and friends how to make cyanotypes, making them together.

  • Museum Club: Arts Award Project with Eliot Bank School, Horniman Librarian, Helen, teaches the students about cyanotypes
    Horniman Librarian, Helen, teaches the students about cyanotypes

Their cyanotypes look fantastic and have contributed to a new book that is being added to the library’s collection!

The group loved taking part in the project, and we received lots of positive feedback from their teachers and families. 

Whilst requiring a lot more staff time than our usual Museum Club programme, the structure of Arts Award worked well for the group, giving them focus, motivation and a log-book to be very proud of. 

Finally, by presenting the group’s certificates in a school assembly, the project has inspired more children to join the club this year!’

If the shirt fits…

The Engage Volunteers’ distinctive polo shirt is a familiar sight at the Horniman. But how does it feel to wear one for the first time? New Volunteer Rory shares his experience.

'A bright flash of turquoise caught my eye. Not the exotic paradise tanager bird on display in the Natural History Gallery, but me as I walked past a mirror. That was when it hit home – I was now an Engage Volunteer.

  • If the shirt fits..., A Horniman Engage Volunteer shows objects from the Handling Collection to visitors,  Sophia Spring
    A Horniman Engage Volunteer shows objects from the Handling Collection to visitors,  Sophia Spring

Yes, I’d read all about volunteering on the Horniman’s website. And I’d been to a taster session. But now I had the shirt on, people were going to ask me things. And expect me to know the answers. Gulp.

Purely on a practical level, there’s a lot to learn as a volunteer. Where does this lift go? Do visitors need a ticket for the Aquarium? Where can people leave their buggies?

Then there is learning the names of all the people who make the Museum tick: Security Guards, Visitor Assistants, the Finance and Learning teams – the list goes on.

What concerned me most was the trickier questions I could face. How old is this? Is that real? Are you sure it’sCaribbean, not African?

But I needn’t have worried. A thorough orientation answered all my questions and introduced me to everyone I needed to know.

Then my fellow Volunteers explained exactly what I’d be doing and how to handle the more unusual questions that could come my way.

For most other things there are information sheets. These explain anything from the facts about the objects on the hands-on trolley to how to spot the elusive queen in the Nature Base beehive.

  • If the shirt fits..., Engage Volunteer helping visitors spot the queen bee in the Nature Base beehive ,  Sophia Spring
    Engage Volunteer helping visitors spot the queen bee in the Nature Base beehive ,  Sophia Spring

So what was it like to wear the volunteer shirt? When I first put it on I felt conspicuous. A turquoise target. But it didn’t take long for that to change.

As I spent the day chatting about the harvest mice in the Nature Base, explaining the finer points of a sperm whale’s eardrum and getting to know my fellow Volunteers better, I realised two things: it isn’t hard to help people get more from their visit to the Museum; and, far from singling me out, my shirt identified me as part of a team.

Before I knew it, my first day was over. By now I felt comfortable enough in my new shirt to walk home wearing it without a second thought.

Outside, I passed a boy who’d been in the Museum earlier. ‘Mum!’ his excited voice behind me said, ‘Did you see that man’s shirt? I want one!’

I carried on with even more of a spring in my step. Because now I knew that if my shirt made me a target of anything, it was admiration.

Want to know what happens when you wear a volunteer shirt? Find out more about volunteering.'

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