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Meet Mike

Meet Mike.

  • Mike - The Studio, Alison McKay
    , Alison McKay

Mike is a binaural recording device, modelled from the head of artist Serena Korda’s friend, also called Mike.

Mike – the model, still with me? – has microphones in his ears, and works by recording and playing back the sounds around him, to create immersive sonic experiences – so the listener hears everything just as if they’d been standing where Mike was.

We met Mike at the first meeting of The Collective attended by Serena, its newest member. Serena was chosen from a shortlist of artists to join The Collective, working together to create the first show in the Horniman’s new Studio space.

She brought Mike along to the meeting as an introduction to some of the ways she works. Much of Serena’s current artistic practice uses soundscapes because, she told us, she’s interested in the healing potential of sound. She wanted to show the group how binaural recording can creative emotive experiences, a sense of space and of the uncanny – what she calls ‘ghost sounds’.

  • Mike - The Studio, Alison McKay
    , Alison McKay

So we had the chance to create our own immersive soundscape while chatting in our circle around Mike – randomly making noises such as chairs scraping and pens tapping, then moving around the space, singing, chanting and even making chewing sounds into Mike’s ear.

Listening back to the recording was fascinating – some of us listened with eyes shut; some laughed out loud or jumped in surprise.

We don’t know yet know what role sound might play in The Studio’s first show but, now we’ve met Mike, we’re looking forward to working with Serena to find out!

Let's go fly a kite

Ahmadzia Bakhtyari has been hard at work over the last few months, making kites which will go into our World Gallery in Spring 2018.

Watch this video below to see how he has made these kites.

You can meet Ahmadzia at our Refugee Week event on Saturday 24 June, and take part in his free kite-making workshops. Once you have made your kite, come and fly it with us in the Gardens at the end of the day.

Find out more about Refugee Week 2017 at the Horniman or the World Gallery.

Celebrating LGBTQI refugees in the UK

It is Refugee Week from 19 - 25 June. The week takes place every year across the world and we spoke to Rainbow Pilgrims about their work with LGBTQI immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

  • Rainbow Pilgrims, Rainbow Pilgrims at the Horniman, Mary Humphrey
    Rainbow Pilgrims at the Horniman, Mary Humphrey

Many wonderful and talented people have had to flee their country of origin because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Research shows that 76 countries still prosecute people on the grounds of their sexual orientation – seven of which punish same-sex acts with death.  Still, even in countries that have supportive legislation, many LGBT people feel unsafe. DJ Scotch, now based in Manchester, found it too risky to come out as lesbian in his Zulu community and was only able to transition from female-to-male safely here in the UK. He reflects on how his life would look like these days back in South Africa,

Walking in the street, what would I be inviting? I would be so insecure about why people are looking at me and what they’d be thinking. I would be uncomfortable, basically. Let alone to transition, it would be dangerous… Already people there are confused about lesbians, and how then would I even start explaining myself as being transgender?

We believe there’s generally still a lack of awareness how amazingly diverse the UK’s immigrant population actually is, and that some refugees and asylum seekers are lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer/questioning or intersex.

  • Rainbow Pilgrims, Rainbow Pilgrims at the Horniman, Mary Humphrey
    Rainbow Pilgrims at the Horniman, Mary Humphrey

The project Rainbow Pilgrims: The Rites and Passages of LGBTQI migrants in the UK aims to fill this gap and give LGBTQI immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers a platform to tell their stories and celebrate their diverse identities and backgrounds.It is supported by The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and hosted by the charity Liberal Judaism.

Learn more about DJ Scotch’s experience, listen to other LGBTQI migrant stories and watch our new trailer #shareyourRPstory on Rainbow Pilgrims.

We are extremely excited to be working alongside the Horniman on various events around the heritage of LGBTQI migrants in the UK. In fact, our great collaboration already started earlier this year at the annual Crossing Borders Day in March. We invited our friends from Micro Rainbow International to explore the concept of storytelling using museum objects. Micro Rainbow International UK works with LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees to heal through the arts and combats isolation.

  • Rainbow Pilgrims, Rainbow Pilgrims at the Horniman, Mary Humphrey
    Rainbow Pilgrims at the Horniman, Mary Humphrey

Together we can create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration, enabling LGBTQI and indeed all refugees to live in safety and continue making a valuable contribution.

For more information and to get involved please contact project manager Shaan Knan via rainbowpilgrims@liberaljudaism.org or contact the organisation via their website

SEND schools programme shortlisted for award

We are very excited that our SEND school programme has been shortlisted for a Museums & Heritage award this year. Here to tell us more about the programme is our Schools Learning Officer, Maria Magill. 

'The question I get asked most is, 'What do you do when you’re not teaching?' Among other things, I get to work on developing our offer for schools, particularly for special educational needs schools. This is one of the most fun aspects of my job.

Our programme of sensory sessions and resources has been shortlisted for a Museums & Heritage Award this year in the category of Education Initiative. The Schools Team couldn’t be more excited!

SEND Sensory Session: A Musical Adventure was developed as part of the legacy of a project with Peoplescape Theatre Company. It is a music session using instruments from Brazil and Nigeria. Pupils help a character ‘Rebecca’ and travel to each country to collect instruments to bring back to the Museum.

Encountering storms on the sea (making wave sounds with our ocean drum), visiting the Brazilian rainforest to be surrounded by butterflies and birds (fluttering tissue paper shapes), and helping to pack a suitcase, as well as learning a Yoruba song of welcome, all form part of this fun session.

SEND Sensory Session: Ancient Egyptian Mummification was developed due to teacher requests. Pupils engage with a sensory story exploring how Mr Horniman collected artefacts from Egypt.

They explore the process of mummification through a range of sensory experiences and objects. They have a go at bandaging, exploring the spices and tools used in mummification (salt, frankincense, cedar oil, beeswax) and handle real Ancient Egyptian objects including a mummy mask.

Alongside the sessions, we’ve worked to make the Museum visit more accessible and inclusive.

There is a social story on our website showing the rooms schools will visit, the things they will see and who they will meet.

We’ve had training to help us incorporate Makaton signing into our sessions and we’ve got software to enable us to create Widgit flashcards as another communication tool.

We’ve had a rethink about how we set up our workshop spaces, changed our tablecloths to make objects easier to see and made cushions available to sit on the floor.

  • SEND schools programme shortlisted for award, Widgit cards
    Widgit cards

Next steps involve creating a new science sensory session linked to our Aquarium and creating a day schedule using Widgit cards which we can share with schools before they visit.

To be shortlisted for a Museum & Heritage Award shows us that we are on the right track, and gives us a renewed burst of enthusiasm to keep improving our offer, making it more accessible for all participants, and to keep improving our professional practice. We’ve just started and we’re excited to keep going!

If you would like to find out more or book a session please contact us at 0208 291 8686 or email schools@horniman.ac.uk.

For more information visit this SEND group page on our website.'

Redstart Arts Discovery Box

Redstart Arts have been running creative projects at the Horniman for several years. Here, artist Cash Aspeek describes their current work on the Discovery Box project.

Over fifteen different community partners are helping the Horniman create new boxes that will be used by visitors and groups for years to come. They are like mini museums, selecting a group of objects that follow a theme chosen by the group.

Redstart Arts are making their own Discovery Box for the Horniman. The objects the group are choosing are from the Horniman’s Handling Collection as well as handmade objects by the Redstarts (artists with learning disabilities) themselves, made especially for the project.

Redstart Arts’ theme is ‘Protection’.

During the past two years, the Redstarts have become familiar with the Horniman's galleries and many of the objects displayed in them. Each Redstart artist has had been allowed the time and space to select objects that they are particularly drawn to and make studies of them. These objects all had the common theme of protection.

All the sessions for this project involve a group activity where we come together to look at and experience a selection of objects.

Each Redstart is able to connect to different areas of the Horniman's collection and show their interest in the form of drawings, photographs, and conversation, which may come about through storytelling and dramatic scenarios.

The artist educators and Horniman staff are excited with the way the project has developed and are captivated by the incredible focus of the individual Redstart artists. 

  • Redstart Arts Discovery Box, Kimberly is making objects inspired by shells that create incredible and varied protective environments for sea creatures. Kimberly is using model magic and milliput.
    Kimberly is making objects inspired by shells that create incredible and varied protective environments for sea creatures. Kimberly is using model magic and milliput.

  • Redstart Arts Discovery Box, Byron is making his own protective mask and talisman pendants working alongside Hannah who is using plaster and modeling materials.
    Byron is making his own protective mask and talisman pendants working alongside Hannah who is using plaster and modeling materials.

  • Redstart Arts Discovery Box, Uduehi enjoys drawing and is particularly interested in how animals protect their families.
    Uduehi enjoys drawing and is particularly interested in how animals protect their families.

  • Redstart Arts Discovery Box, David is embroidering images from the Natural History Gallery onto blue satin discs. This will become a protective cloak to be worn. Each disc has a drawing by all the Redstarts.
    David is embroidering images from the Natural History Gallery onto blue satin discs. This will become a protective cloak to be worn. Each disc has a drawing by all the Redstarts.

  • Redstart Arts Discovery Box, David is embroidering images from the Natural History Gallery onto blue satin discs. This will become a protective cloak to be worn. Each disc has a drawing by all the Redstarts.
    David is embroidering images from the Natural History Gallery onto blue satin discs. This will become a protective cloak to be worn. Each disc has a drawing by all the Redstarts.

  • Redstart Arts Discovery Box, Colleen is designing fabric inspired by African figures. The fabric will be used to protect the Akuaba doll. This doll was given to women to look after as if it were a baby in order to aid their fertility and allow them to be ready for motherhood.
    Colleen is designing fabric inspired by African figures. The fabric will be used to protect the Akuaba doll. This doll was given to women to look after as if it were a baby in order to aid their fertility and allow them to be ready for motherhood.

International Women's Day 2017

Today, 8 March, is International Women's Day, where we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women around the world. 

This year's International Women's Day theme is Be Bold For Change

Here at the Horniman, we have a whole host of amazing women working and volunteering in our Museum and Gardens. We invited some of them to share how they are going to be bold this year. 

The responses were great. Some were personal challenges for the year ahead, some were calls to action and all of them were personal and empowering. 

Here are some of the ways the women of the Horniman are going to be bold. 

  • International Women's Day 2017, Volunteering again with Cultural Heritage without Borders in a new city in Kosovo
    Volunteering again with Cultural Heritage without Borders in a new city in Kosovo

  • International Women's Day 2017, Turn my words into actions
    Turn my words into actions

  • International Women's Day 2017, Do more for my kids in Zimbabwe - www.themichaelproject.org
    Do more for my kids in Zimbabwe - www.themichaelproject.org

  • International Women's Day 2017, Release more creativity
    Release more creativity

  • International Women's Day 2017, A mum returning to the workplace after a decade at home!
    A mum returning to the workplace after a decade at home!

  • International Women's Day 2017, Trek Machu Picchu (must go to gym first!)
    Trek Machu Picchu (must go to gym first!)

  • International Women's Day 2017, Support art made by women
    Support art made by women

How are you going to be #BeBoldForChange this year?

Share your answers with us using #horniman

National Museums and Wellbeing Week

Our Community Engagement Coordinator Jess Croll-Knight talks about wellness and the role that museums play in their local community.

This week we are celebrating the second National Museums and Wellbeing Week from 6 – 12 March 2017, coordinated by the National Alliance for Museums, Health & Wellbeing.

The Community Engagement team are proud to work with a range of local organisations and services that provide mental health and wellbeing support for people. These partnerships really help us understand how the Collections and Gardens can help enrich and support positive wellbeing for people who visit the Horniman. This might include opportunities to be active and social, to try or learn something new, use objects in multi-sensory and creative ways, or just relax and have fun in a different environment. 

All sorts of activities happen at the Horniman that support positive wellbeing. Here is a snapshot of what is happening this week.

We are running projects with a range of partners, including the Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre ‘Whatever’ Project, Redstart Arts and Three C’s, to create new discovery boxes. The boxes contain a selection of objects from our Handling Collection, based around a theme that is relevant to them. They are aimed at families and groups who are exploring the Hands on Base. To create the boxes, group members take the lead in choosing a theme and decide which objects go in their box. This helps develop skills working with Museum objects, sharing interests and experiences with each other, taking part in creative activities, and ultimately creating a resource that will be used by visitors to the Horniman for years to come. The Horniman are welcoming

This week we are also welcoming Pan Intercultural Arts to the Horniman, who work supporting self-expression and empowerment with a young refugee arts group.

Elliot Bank School’s Museum Club will be back again this week learning about the Museum's collections and Gardens through art and crafts. And the Horniman Youth Panel, who also meet each week, play an important role in decision-making and getting young people’s voices heard at the Horniman. 

We are really excited to have started a project with local families learning English as another language with ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). They are helping to create interpretation panels (the labels you read in galleries) for the new World Gallery and Studio. The sessions are a chance for people to be sociable and practice language skills in a different environment, but also to play an active and critical role in making the Horniman a welcoming place for all families in the local community.

Crossing Borders also takes place this week. We are asking people to join us in celebrating the diversity of our Forest Hill neighbourhood and the people that live here, through storytelling, art and craft activities and immersive theatre performances. This annual event is a collaboration between organisations and individuals who work with local refugees and asylum seekers. Everyone is welcome so come along on Saturday 11 March.

Finally, we welcome the Raise the Roof Community Choir which provides an uplifting opportunity for people to explore music together.

Museums and gardens are an amazing resource for feeling well and happy, being active and taking part in activities. We hope the Horniman can continue building on all of this work and help promote the wellbeing of our community and all our visitors.

Have a look at the Wheel of Wellbeing for more inspiration! 

The women and children of Barry House

As part of our annual Crossing Borders event, we spoke to Anne-Catherine Le Deunff, who is an Art Therapist working at Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers, a centre for vulnerable refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. She tells us about what life is like running the art therapy sessions with the women and children at Barry House, a hostel for asylum seekers run by the Home Office.

Every Wednesday evening is different in Barry House.

Women and children join our group, settle for a while in the temporary accommodation (a few days, a week, a month) and then they go.

We get to know each other, we become friends or we simply learn how to pronounce each other’s name and then, one day, the woman or the child is gone to Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham or Cardiff and you might not see each other again.

Once in a while, you are lucky enough to say, “Goodbye, good luck, take care of yourself…”

Every day we are assailed by images in the media showing the desperate movement of migrants arriving in Europe. These are people fleeing war, persecution or poverty. Leaving their country without hope of returning in the near future, they are separated from their homes, their relatives, their friends. They are in constant fear of losing their loved ones back home. Along the way, they have suffered abuse from people smugglers, they have got used to being rejected and mistreated and they are likely to have been confronted with death. Some images might stay in their mind and they might have troubles sleeping because of them.

After these traumatic events they are in need of interventions to support them on a psychological level, as well as to help them get by in their new lives. Creative therapy provides some release or structure within which their experiences can be expressed.

At our arrival in Barry House, the children run towards us - excited, curious. They help us set up the Art Therapy Room. The mums might arrive later. They come on their own or with a friend or two, to share their stories with the group. Soon, everyone starts painting or drawing, immersed in their imaginary world. We never stop giving sheets of paper on which they express themselves and communicate. They do not need to speak the same language; their images talk for them.

These regular sessions provide a measure of release and give some structure to the women and children’s lives. It enables them to give some meaning to their experience.

We often observe one or two sad children gazing at us in silence. You can guess that they are affected by their parents’ anxiety and depression. They might even have to become their mother and father’s carer as they learn English quickly.  In our group, we try to offer them a space to play, showing these children a way to enter a world where they are in control. We are struck by their need to be treated as individuals after their experiences finding their way to our country.

Art demands active participation therefore it helps with combatting apathy. It enhances wellbeing and offers the migrants some time to stop worrying. It might help contain and calm a distressed adult, a restless child.

Many women might have never been given the opportunity to create. They might never have used paints before and might be reluctant to start. When they feel trusting enough of the environment, and of us, only then can they allow their emotions to express themselves. They can also use this time to dream and explore in a secure and safe space.

Children who may be seen to have lost their childhoods are provided a positive and creative experience. They are able to share stories and situations from their past, using the artistic medium in whichever way they wish, in a safe and nurturing environment. They will be listened to and the therapist will validate their experiences, enabling them to move forward, to start to heal. Later on, those children who have been helped to survive and cope will integrate in our schools and often thrive.

In Barry House, it is not possible to start proper therapy as there is not enough time to go in depth and talk about the women’s inner lives - the confusion and despair that we see in their eyes. We offer mothers this space and time to breathe, bond with their children and be a mum like any other mum. We would like to think that we provide some opportunity for creative growth.

One woman from Yemen invited us to her bedroom where her new born baby boy was being blessed. She had been attending our group regularly, all through her pregnancy.  We were pleased to see that she decorated her room with her refined and colourful artwork.

For me, she was not a victim anymore but a real artist, proud of her work.

You can take part in a drawing workshop with Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers as part of Crossing Borders on 11 March, based on the drawings made by women and children during art therapy at the Centre or Barry House.

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