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Holly's top five objects

One of our Volunteers, Holly, picks her top five favourite objects from the African Worlds and Centenary Galleries.

‘Exciting changes are afoot at the Horniman. The African Worlds and Centenary galleries are going to be transformed into an exciting new World Gallery and Studio Space. I can’t wait to see the new displays and the thousands of extra objects that will go into them in 2018. Until then, here are my personal favourite objects from the African Worlds and Centenary Galleries:

Lion

The expression on this lion's face never fails to make me smile. It looks quizzical and humorously attentive with its protruding eyes, arched tail and large ears. Its tight grip on its prey, mouth pinched closed, makes me think it must be especially satisfied with what it has caught.

Nkisi

With its lolling tongue, large teeth and disconcerting lack of eyes, this double headed dog is an imposing creature, and that’s before you start counting the nails covering its body.

Nkisi were used to contain and summon spiritual forces during rituals designed to control, change or correct the world around you. They were used for sealing oaths, alleviating illness, protecting against sorcery and punishment of crimes. Each of the nails in this nkisi represents an instance this object was activated. Imagine what type of problem or request each nail represents!

The Benin Plaques

These commemorative plaques depict Benin’s Obas (rulers) and social elite. I love how the figures were skilfully cast in such a high relief, making them stand out far from the patterned backgrounds.

Removed from Benin’s royal palace as part of a punitive expedition by the British in 1897 and sold to museums around the world, the plaques challenged contemporary views of African culture when they were first brought to Europe. Today they remain challenging objects, instead reminding us how different museum collection practices used to be.

Hei Tiki

With its demanding eyes, tilted head, poised limbs and protruding tongue the hei tiki is an iconic symbol of New Zealand. You don't need to go to a museum or marae (Maori greeting area) to see pendants like these. Lots of people wear pounamu (greenstone) in a variety of designs, although most pendants are smaller than these fine examples.

In Maori culture greenstone is a taonga (treasure). Traditionally, greenstone could only be received as a gift and it would increase in mana (prestige) as it was passed from generation to generation.

Merman

With hollow eye sockets, reaching claws, sinewy tendons, emaciated torso and forbidding spikes along its spine, it’s certainly not the beautiful mythical creature I imagine when I think of mermaids.

Mesmerizingly grotesque, the merman is a good example of the craftsmanship required to make a convincing fake. While you logically know it’s not real, it's hard not to be captivated. I wouldn’t even be surprised if some sceptical viewers in the 19th century wanted to believe it was real. After all it would be a fascinating creature to discover… but big and scary enough that you probably won't want to meet it in real life.'

Big Butterfly Count 2016

This year we are taking some time to celebrate beautiful butterflies and marvellous moths.

Join us for our Big Wednesday event where you can take part in the Big Butterfly Count on the Nature Trail with entomologist Richard Jones, go on a story tour with Mr Horniman and do some butterfly-inspired art and craft.

What is the Big Butterfly Count I hear you ask? It is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It runs from 15 July – 7 August, and during this time thousands of people across the UK will take count of butterflies and moths.

To take part you just need to spend 15 minutes counting butterflies and moths during bright and sunny weather. You can count during a walk, or sitting in one place – a perfect thing to do during a visit to the Horniman Gardens. You can even download a handy identification chart to help you spot different species.

Information about how to take part from the Big Butterfly Count:

How to count:

If you are counting from a fixed position, count the maximum number of each species you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as three, but if you only see one at a time then record it as one (even if you saw one on several occasions) – this is so that you don’t count the same butterfly more than once . If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.

How to send in your counts:

You can send in your sightings online at bigbutterflycount.org or by using the free Big Butterfly Count smartphone apps available for iOS and Android.
Remember – every count is useful, even if you don’t see any butterflies.
The Horniman staff will be taking part in the Big Butterfly Count and we will keep you updated on how many we see!

Tag us in your butterfly-counting pictures at the Horniman by using #Horniman on Instagram and Twitter.

Broadwood Horniman Harpsichord Competition 2017

Entries are now open for the second Broadwood Horniman Harpsichord Competition.

Competitors who are accepted will play our wonderful 1772 Kirckman harpsichord.

Details:

Wednesday 19 April 2017 using the 1772 Jacob Kirckman harpsichord in the Music Gallery. 

The Broadwood Horniman Harpsichord Competition is supported through the generosity of John Broadwood & Sons Ltd.

Adjudicators: Sophie Yates & Robin Bigwood

Please note that there is no closing date for the competition. Instead, the competition is limited to 15 entrants on a first-come, first-served basis. After 15 applicants have submitted complete applications, we will operate a waiting list system. Incomplete entries will be rejected and the entry process will have to be started again, thus losing your place in the queue for the first 15 places. If you submit an incomplete entry, you are not guaranteed a place in the competition. As we were oversubscribed last year, we recommend early entry.

Please direct all questions about the competition to Festival Director Lorraine Liyanage: broadwoodcompetition@gmail.com

Each entrant is required to submit an online entry form.

Competition Rules:

1. Competitors must be aged 36 and under on the 18th of April 2017.
2. All entrants must attend an Introduction/Audition to the Instrument on 18th of April 2017 at the Horniman Museum. Permission to play the Kirckman harpsichord is at the sole discretion of the Museum and its decision is final.
3. Previous entrants may apply but the 1st place winner is ineligible to enter. Anyone who has previously auditioned on the Kirckman does not need to audition again for the competition but does need to submit a completed registration form.
Prizes:
The winner will receive £100 and prize-winning performances at the Horniman Museum & Gardens and other London venues to be confirmed.
Other Information:
All competitors will perform on a 1772 Kirckman harpsichord. [Kirckman Stops & Registraion]

Summer Raffle

Win some fantastic prizes in our Summer Raffle. 

Tickets are just £1, or 6 for £5, and are available at the Horniman until 4 September 2016. Look out for ticket sellers at all Festival of Brasil events or visit the Ticket Desk.

The draw will take place on Friday 9 September.

All proceeds help support the work of the Horniman Museum and Gardens (Charity Registration Number 802725).

The prizes are:

Aquarium Tour

Join a curator for a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of our much-loved aquarium.

The tour is for up to 5 visitors and available Monday – Friday. Prize must be taken up by 31 December 2016, dates subject to availability.
Find out more about the Aquarium.

Meet the Animals

An exclusive opportunity to meet the residents of our Animal Walk, including alpacas, goats, guinea pigs and chickens.

The tour is for up to 5 visitors and available Monday – Friday. Prize must be taken up by 31 December 2016, dates subject to availability.
Find out more about the Animal Walk.

Meal in the Café

Treat yourself with our delicious selection of hot and cold meals, amazing cakes and locally-sourced drinks.

Voucher for all food and drink up to £50. The voucher can be used any time during usual Café opening hours. Valid until 31 December 2016.
Find out more about the Café.

Tickets to Dinosaurs: Monster Families

Discover the world of dinosaurs and their young in our family-focused interactive exhibition. The winner will receive a free family ticket for two adults and two children, valid until 30 October 2016.
Find out more about Dinosaurs: Monster Families.

Horniman Family Membership

Enjoy a year of fantastic benefits including free and unlimited entry to the Aquarium and our temporary exhibitions, and a 10% discount in our Shop.
Find out more about Membership.

Plus, five more winners will receive one of our famous cuddly walrus toys!

Terms and Conditions

1. Closing date 04/09/2016.
2. Entry is via tickets purchased at the Horniman Museum and Gardens only. Entrants must provide details of their chosen contact method. Please keep the ticket as proof of purchase.
3. The prize winners will be chosen at random from all valid entries received by the closing date. The decision is final and non-negotiable.
4. The winner of each prize will be notified by their chosen contact method by 12/09/2016. The winners must claim the prize within two weeks or they will be considered forfeited and another draw will take place.
5. Winners may be asked to provide a photograph or to be photographed and interviewed to provide a quote about winning in order to help promote future fundraising.
6. Entrants must be over 16 and resident in UK.
7. No cash alternative.
8. Prizes are non-transferable.
9. The Horniman Museum and Gardens reserves the right to substitute the prizes with a prize of similar value at its own discretion.
10. The Horniman Museum & Gardens reserves the right to withdraw or amend the raffle as necessary due to circumstances outside its control.
11. By entering the raffle, all entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to be bound by these rules.
12. Employees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, their agencies and other companies directly involved in the running of the raffle are not permitted to enter.
13. The competition is run by the Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, London SE23 3PQ

DATA PROTECTION
We are committed to protecting your privacy in line with the Data Protection Act. The data you have supplied will be held securely. We will not share this information with any third party without your consent.

Thank you for supporting the Horniman.

Watching Brazilian films at the Horniman

This summer, as part of our Festival of Brasil, we collaborated with the Brazilian Embassy's Cineclub Brazil to screen two films in our Pavilion. The first is The Second Mother and the second is City of God.

Here, we chat to the Brazilian Embassy about why they picked these two films to represent Brazilian cinema. 

Why did you pick these two films for showing as part of the Brazil Summer Season at the Horniman?

The two titles showing this summer at the Horniman give a good notion of Brazilian contemporary cinema and its international recognition.

Brazilian cinema has had a crucial role in questioning the country’s social issues. Both City of God and The Second Mother illustrate contemporary Brazil, they also depict completely different environments, themes, social classes, locations and historical political moments in the country.

City of God is a violent, fast-paced film that narrates the story of a group of favela-dwellers in Rio, going from the 60’s to the 80’s. We see how the characters’ lives have been affected as consequences of their actions. The film provoked a debate of modern urban problems like violence, social discrepancy, and drug dealing. It showed a completely new side of the city of Rio de Janeiro that is usually described by its natural beauty and tourist attractions - Sugar loaf, Copacabana Beach and its Carnival.

Internationally, City of God was also embraced with enthusiasm by critics and the general public. In 2003, it was released in the UK, achieving the third highest box-office receipts among foreign productions in England. The title received nominations for best foreign film in both the American Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

The Second Mother is a touching tale about the relationship of a north-eastern nanny and a wealthy family in Sao Paulo. It explores the conflicts and social issues of modern life in a metropolitan city in Brazil (migration, working class conditions and regionalism) touched by references to fairy tales.

The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Prize. It received critical praise in and outside Brazil and was selected as the Brazilian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. It won the Woman Film Critics Circle Awards in 2015. Director Anna Muylaert won the Panomara Prize at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival.

Why is Cinema important to Brazilian culture?

Films provide a window to different cultures, whether you have an interest in a specific country, in learning a language, or are just curious.

Regardless of the stories or styles of filmmaking, the medium contains a great deal of information about people and places. Someone across the Atlantic who might not have yet visited Brazil can easily learn something about the country and its culture by watching Brazilian films.

The Brazilian domestic audience has also increased lately, following box-office hits from national titles.

For instance, the response to City of God immediately after its release was unprecedented in Brazilian cinema. More than 130,000 people saw the movie on its first weekend, and it quickly became the fifth biggest box-office hit ever in national cinema.

Such figures are quite impressive if one considers that cinema is far from being a popular entertainment in Brazil, a country that is engulfed by the culture of the ‘telenovelas’. Traditionally, the high price of a ticket made cinema a recreation for the middle and upper classes in Brazil.

What would you like viewers to take away from these films?

Each film takes the audience on completely different emotional journeys. However, the fast-paced City of God, it’s quick-editing, and thriller-action elements such as violence overdose, police chasing and gun-shootings are similar to successful commercial blockbusters.

The Second Mother is an emotional journey that engages the audience with the hope for a happy, fairy-tale ending. There are universal themes in this: the criticism of judging others by their appearances or social class and ignoring their capacities; wishes that come true as long as you work hard for them.

We hope the The Second Mother and City of God will provide a little taste of Brazil – a country that was originally formed by a mix of cultures, social issues, regionalisms and beliefs – as well as being entertaining.

Watch The Second Mother on 13 July and City of God on 10 August as part of our Festival of Brasil

About the Art: João Marcos Rosa

Our new photography exhibition, Fauna Brazil, is now on display in Gallery Square as part of our Festival of Brasil

We chat to Brazilian photographer João Marcos Rosa about his life-long passion for wildlife photography. 

How did you get into wildlife photography?

I lived close to nature all through my childhood and my first contact with wildlife was when my father and grandfather took me on trips to the countryside.

My grandfather was an amateur photographer who kept lots of books. When I was 15 years old he gave me my first camera. It became my partner on the trips I took to all the wild places in my state. It also was a way to bring a new vision of unknown places back to my family and friends. Nature soon became my passion and object of study.

I wanted to tell the stories behind the photographs and so went University to study journalism. I also published my wildlife stories in newspapers.

My links with conservation projects happened naturally, as soon as I started to search for new stories to tell.

How do you set up your camera so you don’t scare the animals?

I work with researchers who know the animals’ behaviours for most of my projects so I can plan the best techniques to get the pictures I want.

Sometimes I use long telephoto lenses and in other cases wide angle lenses triggered by a remote control.

Do you have to wait a long time to get the perfect shot?

Yes. Photographing birds, especially raptors like the harpy eagle, I have waited for days to get some special shots.

The picture of the harpy eagle carrying the armadillo, which is in the exhibition, took me eight years to capture. Since starting the project in 2004 I have never had another opportunity like that.

As I say, you get luckier the more time you dedicate to your project.

What are your favourite animals to photograph?

I love to photograph giant otters. They are funny animals and very sociable. They live in large families and keep playing, fishing and swimming all day long.

The pictures I take of the otters show a vision of a pure happiness in the wildlife.

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

I have tried to consider the biodiversity of all the ecosystems in Brazil: Amazonia, Atlantic Rainforest, Caatinga, Cerrado, Pantanal and the Coast. So these images represent the diversity of Brazilian wildlife.

What would you like people to think about when looking at your photographs?

I would like people to feel the same happiness I experienced when watching those scenes.

I hope that after seeing the exhibition, people will be more open to think about the importance of wildlife conservation.

What does Brazil mean to you?

Brazil means happiness to me. It is the place I choose to live, raise my family and do most of my work.

Watch another interview with João Marcos Rosa and see more of his photography:

Fauna Brazil is curated by Alicia Bastos in association with Braziliarty

See Fauna Brazil in Gallery Square until 8 January 2017.

Heaven & Hell - What Else?

A huge new Carnival installation has been installed in Gallery Square as part of our Festival of Brasil

The artwork was made as part of a joint project between artists Charles Beauchamp and Julieta Rubio from Mandinga Arts and Brazilian artists and performers Robson Rozza and Saulo Eduardo.

The artists were inpired by many of the exciting Brazilian objects at our Study Collections Centre, where they were shown round by our Collections staff.

The installation represents both heaven and hell. The angelic white figure is contrasted by the rise of a red wing, revealing a strange and tainted side to every great being.

The costume is inspired by the energy of Carnival in Brazil and revolutionary Brazilian icons like Xica da Silva and Ney Matogrosso, symbols of hope and champions of equality. 

The huge artwork will hang in the installation space above Gallery Square for the whole summer season during our Festival of Brasil. It will then be taken down and worn as part of a parade through the gardens at our Horniman Carnival on the 4 September. 

The wildflower meadow bed

This year we have a new wildflower meadow bed coming into bloom in the Gardens. 

The wildflower meadow bed sits against the outside west wall the Sunken Garden. It was sown in October of last year, so this is its first year in flower and it is looking great. 

We used a wildflower seed mix to fill the bed, from a company called Pictoral Meadows that is specially tailored to suit the semi-shady site where the bed sits. 

The bed will be a permenant display. In the spring our Gardeners will cut it down and it will re-grow each year. 

At the start of the year it looks like a bed of weeds, but as the summer goes a mixture of woodland plants start to appear. It flowers from May through to September and by the end of the summer it is a beautiful mix of colours and scents. As you can see, the bed already looks wonderful. 

Can you identify any of the following plants?

Red Campion (Silene dioica)

Herb bennet (Geum urbanum)

Ox eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Crane's-bill geranium (Geranium pratense)

Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)

Tag your photos of the wildflower garden with #GrowingGardens and #Horniman on Instagram and Twitter.

About the Art: Jane Edden

We interviewed artist Jane Edden to hear more about the Flying Jacket artworks in her new Avian Forms exhibition now on display in the Natural History Gallery. 

What inspired the pieces in this exhibition?

I am fascinated by the way people collect, categorise, name and order objects in museums. Especially in the Victorian era.

I am also interested in the human obsession with flight.

Because of the interest in flight and categorisation I decided to look at stuffed birds, and especially small stuffed birds. When you look at a hummingbird, it looks impossible and too beautiful to exist. There is an almost fake look to them. I was trying to recreate that feeling of something so small and so perfect – and then introduce all the ideas about flight.

The Flying Jackets are beautiful – tell us more about those.

Humans are drawn to birds and feathers and flight and I think there is something innately human about wearing feathers. You go to a wedding and people have feathers stuck on their heads and it is the same in Papua New Guinea or Peru. People all over the world wear feathers on hats or coats or on other items of clothing and decoration. Even if you go for a walk in the park - you pick up a feather, twiddle it around and stick it in your button hole – it is just something that we do.

With the Flying Jackets, it was also about them being miniature. If you look at a dolls house you can imagine yourself in the house - you are able to move yourself into that space and imagine what it is like. Many people say with the Flying Jackets, ‘I would like one in my size’ but I think if I made one in life-size it wouldn’t have the same impact at all. Their size allows you to step out of where you are and into your imagination – and that is what interests me.

Some of the Flying Jackets are named after aeroplanes that are themselves named after birds, for example, Osprey. Some of the Flying Jackets are also named after Native Americans, who in turn wore feathers in their headdresses. I like the way by categorising them with these names, it brings the ideas of interaction between humans and birds full circle.  

See Avian Forms in the Natural History Gallery from 25 June - 9 October 2016. 

Brazil Food Garden

The Horniman’s Festival of Brasil extends out into the Food Garden this summer. Among wildflowers in the green, gold, blue and white of the Brazilian flag, we’ve grouped some of our food plants by recipe to give you a taste of the country’s vibrant food and drink culture.

Brazil’s cuisine is a mixture of European, African and South American influences, and in the display you’ll find plants from the Old and New Worlds and from temperate and tropical regions.

One of the most important tropical crops for us to include was Manihot esculentum, otherwise known as cassava or manioc. This fast-growing shrub is native to Brazil and produces starchy tubers – like potatoes or yams – that have been a staple food in South America for thousands of years. You can find cassava growing in the tacaca and arrumadinho sections of the garden.

It is not an easy plant to source in the UK and ours were grown from seed sown in January this year.

Elsewhere in the garden you’ll find the black beans needed to make the popular pork and bean stew feijoada, the okra used in the West African-influenced caruru, and of course the lime and sugar cane needed to mix a proper caipirinha

It wouldn’t be a Brazilian summer without a bit of colour so around our recipes we’ve sown a mixture of wildflowers in the colours of the Brazilian flag.

Against a background of green foliage Glebionis segetum (Corn marigold) gives us yellow, Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower) blue, and Silene latifolia (White campion) the white of the stars in the centre of the flag. The seed was sown in April and is just now – with no help from the June weather – starting to come into flower.

Look out too for a splash of red from the bedding Salvia ‘Forest Fire’ (the red Salvias that have been popular bedding plants since the 19th Century were bred from the Brazilian native Salvia splendens) and some lively Brazilian street art on boards around the garden.

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