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Making History: Horniman Youth Panel and Patrick Hough

The Horniman Youth Panel set out to explore how Egyptian culture and history is represented in Hollywood Movies.

We learned to think critically about the film props in these movies while having a chance to experiment with script writing, directing voice acting and basic filmmaking techniques with the video artist Patrick Hough.

The workshop began with a brief introduction to Patrick’s artistic practice, looking at early photography on Hollywood film sets in Morocco, to newer video works that use film props and green screen backdrops. We then briefly looked at a range of short clips from films depicting Egypt, ranging from the fantastical to the historically accurate and discussed the visual elements from the sets, costumes and props, lighting while comparing and contrasting the different ways Egypt has been shown on film.

Later on, we worked with real physical film props loaned from a London prop house that are used in Egyptian movies. We explored their different material qualities – comparing them to the amazing Ancient Egyptian objects in our Hands on Base. We also discussed the varying degrees of accuracy these objects have in portraying cultures.

Finally, we broke up into two groups to develop a short script together. We were given a chance to create our own short film scene that gave a voice to the film prop and placed it in a theatrical context.

Participants directed the voice acting, choose the camera angles, light the scene and create direction notes for the editor.

Here are the final results – we hope you like them!

Find out how you can get involved with our Youth Panel

Afghani kite-making at the museum

This summer we held a kite-making workshop in association with one of our community partners, Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers. The leader of our workshop, Ahmadzia, tells us more about this fun event. 

My name is Ahmadzia and I am a kite maker from Afghanistan. On the 27 July I had the pleasure of being invited to lead a workshop on kite-making at the Horniman.

It was a beautiful summers day and the wind was great for kite flying. I was happy to see that many people came to the workshop, both children and adults.

At the start of the workshop I gave a quick introduction to the making of kites and then everyone had a chance to make their own. We used lots of different coloured paper to make each kite unique and personal.

We then took our kites to the top of the hill in the beautiful Horniman Gardens and all flew them together.

Kite making and flying is a traditional pastime in Afghanistan, where I was born. Kite fliers of all ages come together to display the kites they have made and sometimes even compete against each other by trying to cut down each other's kites.

To see more of me making and flying a kite watch this short film.

GUDIPARAN from Nima Shahmalekpur on Vimeo.

Pokemon IRL – Teen Takeover Day 2016

We handed our precious Twitter account over to our Youth Panel for the day.

The 12 August 2016 was Teen Twitter Takeover, where cultural and heritage organisations across the UK handed their Twitter feeds over to teenagers using the hashtag #takeoverday.

This year, 73 museums were involved – and we were one of them.

The Youth Panel decided at one of their regular meetings that for this year's Teen Twitter Takeover they wanted to hunt for Pokémon.

The group were interested in using the platform to show how this popular game can link to the Horniman collections by finding objects throughout the museum and gardens that look like the characters in the game.

So, at 12pm we gathered with the Youth Panel and gave them two iPads set up with the Horniman Twitter account.

The group started by asking people to tweet in a name or picture of a Pokémon. They were inundated with tweets asking for Evees and Pikachus almost immediately.

The next step was to find objects IRL (in real life) that looked like these Pokémon.

Luckily, the team know the Horniman really well and knew where to go to find foxes, masks and garden plants. The teens are also very Twitter-savvy and so took to the game like a Magicarp to water. The group were great at using the hashtag to interact with other museums throughout the day.

They also managed to squeeze in some interesting facts about the objects they were taking pictures of. Our Deputy Keeper of Natural History, Emma, was on hand to give the team more information about the animals - for example, did you know the Bittern is one of the rarest birds in the Uk and in its native Norfolk lands is also known as a Butterbump?

Our Youth Volunteering Co-ordinator, Beth Atkinson, said ‘This year’s IRL Pokehunt for #takeoverday was ace. The Youth Panel excelled themselves yet again in coming up with such a hilarious idea, running around like human Zigzagoons and making it actually happen! Well done guys!’

You can read our Storify of the Youth Panel’s tweets as well as Kids in Museums’ Storify of all the tweets from museums across the country.

Find out more about how to get involved with our Youth Panel.

Pokémon’s Pikachu invades Horniman Museum

Our Deputy Natural History Keeper Emma-Louise Nicholls has been finding a large number of unusual specimens at the Museum that are definately new additions.

If you don’t play PokémonGo, that’s ok. If you haven’t heard of PokémonGo, you need to leave your cave and interact with the world more. Virtual reality is not a new concept but it is still one that blows my mind. Standing in the garden looking at my phone, I can see the real grass on the screen, and yet there’s a Jigglypuff sitting on it. He’s right there. That element is what persuaded me to bow to public pressure and PokémonGothere. As it were.

Of the 142 possible characters you can currently catch, they range in rarity from Pidgey which is as common as, well pigeons, to ones so rare they cause grown men to abandon their cars in the middle of the road and cause widespread chaos.

One of the rare Pokémon (I’ve been told) is the famous Pikachu, special friend of Ash (a cartoon human) and bright yellow star character of the Pokémon world. When I started playing PokémonGo I was told that Pikachu would be impossible to catch. Well, I caught 16 in two days at the Museum (not to mention the 5 or 6 that got away), and that’s just on my lunch-breaks.

  • Pikachu Army, This Pikachu Army was caught at the Horniman Museum over just a couple of days
    This Pikachu Army was caught at the Horniman Museum over just a couple of days

Although I found him under a bush in the Horniman Garden once, as well as loitering around the Conservatory, Pikachu seems to have a special affinity for the Natural History Gallery (so clearly he has good taste). I've not once run into him on the balcony (perhaps he's afraid of heights) but I’ve seen him a number of times in the Bird Case looking at the ducks. Maybe he’s a closet Ornithologist, or perhaps he’s brushing up on his comparative anatomy skills. After all, does anyone know where in the tree of life a Pikachu sits? He’s sort of a yellow squirrel with lightening for a tail. Hmmm.

  • Pikachu in a bird case, The Shelduck on the left looks startled by the sudden appearance of a bright yellow Pokemon
    The Shelduck on the left looks startled by the sudden appearance of a bright yellow Pokemon

He seemed to be particularly excited about seeing the Dodo, or maybe it was the Okapi that put the electricity in his tail. “Wooo look, they’re rare like me!” (rough translation) he squealed in Pokélanguage.

Whatever Pikachu, I see you daily. I don’t think you’re rare at all.

  • Pikachu Jumping, Pikachu seems to get very excited about seeing the Dodo in the Natural History Gallery
    Pikachu seems to get very excited about seeing the Dodo in the Natural History Gallery

I really rather like my job and don’t want to be fired for chasing Pokémon around the galleries when I should be unravelling curatorial mysteries, so I can only play PokémonGo at lunchtimes. Despite this, over the two days that I’ve been playing I have caught 23 species of Pokémon at the Horniman Museum and Gardens. There are no less than 11 Pokéstops in the 16.2 acres of ground at the Horniman, and someone is always setting off a lure at one of them (this attracts Pokémon, for those who cave-dwell). Pikachu and I have been seeing so much of each other, he now comes to visit me at my desk. Aww, what a friendly chap.

  • Pikachu on desk, I think he wants to join my array of mascots
    I think he wants to join my array of mascots

In short dear Pokéhunters if you are in need of a Pokémon, especially one that is Pikachu shaped, I recommend you sidle down/up/across to the Horniman.

Pokémon sighted at the Horniman

As if you needed another reason to explore the Museum or wander around our lush Gardens in the sun, you can now find a whole clutch of Pokemon, Pokestops galore and even two Gyms at the Horniman.

Stock up on your Pokeballs and potions at our Pokestops near:

We also have two Gyms which you can find by the Bandstand and the totem pole at the front of the Museum.

Remember if you are heading to the Horniman for Pokémon Go, stay safe. Explore the game with your friends, keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of the people around you and your surroundings, especially near the very busy London road at the front of the Museum.

Brazil's melting pot in South London

Mariana Pinto from Gandaia Arts has been giving us the low down on how they are involved in the Festival of Brasil, what being Brazilian means to her and what you can expect at Festa Julina and the Horniman Carnival.

​“This season we partnered with the Horniman to develop the elements of decor, costume, dance, games and drumming, in workshop sessions for the opening event Festa Julina and the Horniman carnival. We are blending the use of traditional materials and techniques with the different groups we have worked with. This meant a very creative gathering of buntings, glittering, painting and dance fusions with Trinity Laban amongst many!

“Being Brazilian means that, wherever you go in the world you are welcome! Brazilian culture is a big part of our daily lives so in my case it was natural to make crafts whilst listening to music at home. My mum used to take me to Sambas as our family is from Rio. I was born in Brasilia as my parents moved there from Rio to work and by being brought into Brazil's melting pot, I learnt how to admire the difference between the two cities. This has prepared me to adapt and learn from all the many 'Brazils' and each of their cultural wealth, which I am proud to share via my work in dance, music, making and production!

“Similarities are very few between the UK and Brazil. Maybe the one that I can clearly see (especially about London) is that like Brazil, the UK has been filled with people from all over the world. London is a world city that embraces other cultures! ​I think the festival is already bringing smiles and fun to those involved.

“We have the making sessions with music and it’s great to see not only the kids or participants, but also their group leaders, singing and dancing around as even they lose track of the time. Both Festa Julina and the Horniman Carnival will be a true burst of the result of over 40 sessions! As for the audience, I can’t wait to see them joining in and enjoying every bit of it, as the costumes will be filled with dancers and characters.

“The Horniman Museum itself will be dressed in full Brazilian style!”

About the Art: Dotted Line Theatre

Dotted Line Theatre have been telling us about the work they have been doing for the Festival of Brasil.

Can you tell us a bit about your theatre piece?

At the Dotted Line Theatre we create an original performance with a playful quality and a strong visual style. For the Festival of Brasil we have created a puppetry and music performance called Stories on a String. This is our second project for the Horniman and we are delighted to be back.

How did you come up with the ideas for Stories on a String?

We have been inspired by Brazilian literatura de cordels, booklets of stories, poetry and news, with woodblock printed illustrations on their front covers. The booklets are hung up for sale on cords or string. A literal translation of the term literatura de cordel is ‘stories on a string’.

That gave us the idea of creating a puppet show where the woodblock printed characters of literatura de cordel come to life as puppets and exist in a world of paper and string.

Cordels are sold in market places and shops, so our show takes place on a market stall cart. Our puppets and landscapes fold out from the cordels hanging up for sale, and take over the cart space.

Brazilian cordels also form part of an oral tradition of performed music and poetry. We have a group of musicians in the cordel tradition, who accompany our puppet show and have created our own literatura de cordel story.

Why did you want to tell this story?

We wanted to create a story that had a broad sweep of Brazilian life, quite ambitious in a 20-25 min performance! Our story travels from the city to the Amazon forest, from the South to the North, it has characters that are old and young, real and mythical.

Our central character is a young girl from São Paulo, who travels on a quest for her grandmother. Some of the folklore of the Amazon appears in our story, so you’ll get to meet the mythical characters of Saci Perere, Curupira and Matinta Pereira.

How did you go about creating the puppets and the music?

We’ve been working hard on our puppet designs, under our lead illustrator Jum Faruq, who is also one of our puppeteers, and with Emilia Liberatore and Tom Crame, and our designs are all in the style of the woodblock cordel illustrations. Our puppets are 2D so we have tried to be inventive with the perspective they are drawn in, how they are revealed and how they move to tell our story.

Our music has been composed by Rachel Hayter with Camilo Menjura. It draws on the musical tradition of literatura de cordel but with some modern and atmospheric music added to the mix to help underscore the drama when the puppets are moving. There is so much energy and rhythm in the music of the country, it is a joy to work with. We hope you might join in with the music in a few places during our show!

We’ve developed the piece collaboratively in the rehearsal room, so the script, the design and the music were all created in relation to one another. It can be a bit ‘chicken-and-egg’ as a creative process, but hopefully that means that all the elements are cohesive.

I hope it gives a flavour of our influences, the cordels and the Amazon!

What does Brazil mean to you?

Rachel, our composer, has lived and worked in Brazil, and specialises in performing and teaching Brazilian music. It is her passion. You can see photos about her experiences (particularly her time in the Amazon with the Turudjam tribe) on Rachel’s blog.

 Catch Stories on a String from Dotted Line Theatre at Festa Julina (3 July) and on Big Wednesday (17 August).

Happy Birthday Poppy!

Happy birthday to our alpaca Poppy, who was born 1 year ago today.

  • Happy Birthday Poppy!, Poppy celebrates her first birthday today.
    Poppy celebrates her first birthday today.

We've gotten into the habit of calling Poppy our 'baby alpaca' - but at one year old, there's only about six months left before she's fully grown.

Today, Poppy has celebrated with a few extra carrots for breakfast. Some alpacas also like apples, but our two (Poppy and mum Peep) seem to prefer carrots.

  • Happy Birthday Poppy!, Poppy was born on 3 August 2013.
    Poppy was born on 3 August 2013.

Here's Poppy enjoying her day, sunbathing in the August sun.

  • Happy Birthday Poppy!, Poppy sunbathing!
    Poppy sunbathing!

Poppy's name was inspired by the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, which was marked last year on 4 August 2014. Her name was chosen by Horniman visitors and readers of the South London Press in a competition last year.

If you'd like to visit Poppy, our Animal Walk is open each day from 12.30pm to 4pm. Entry to the Animal Walk is free.

 

Superb Owls + Super Bowls

Around SuperBowl Sunday, there is a wonderful social media trend for museums to mark the occasion by sharing either a Super-Bowl or a Superb-Owl from their collections.

We couldn't resist sharing some of ours.

Hot Stuff at the Horniman

Wes, our Head of Horticulture, shows us how the Gardens team got on when they tried growing some of the hottest chillies around.

Growing chillies is cool. It’s easy, and loads of fun, especially if they’re the proper hot ones!

Earlier in the year the Gardens team at the Horniman ordered a selection of seeds to grow our own plants, including the notorious ‘Trinidad Scorpion’ and the evil ‘Carolina Reaper’, currently the hottest varieties in the world. Gardens Keeper Alex and I are particularly fond of a hot chilli so it was all for a bit of fun rather than producing a bespoke display for the Gardens.

Seeds were sown in March in a heated greenhouse, germination rates were good and they were then potted on into 3.5in pots, they grew well over the summer: chilli plants love heat, lots of sun and regular feeding, and as a result we grew some magnificent plants that produced a lot of fruit.

It was about this time we learnt about Spitalfields City Farm’s Annual Festival of Heat from Amy in our Learning team. Amy arranged for us to have a stall on the day and display some of our plants including the world’s hottest, the Carolina Reaper. The idea was to showcase our plants and advise visitors how to grow and care for theim. We also wanted to know if there were any brave volunteers to try some fruit....there weren’t, apart from Gardens Keeper Alex who took one for the team - literally!

It was a great day and really well organised event by the guys at Spitalfields.

In October we harvested all our remaining fruit and Horniman Café Chef Jason is producing our very own chilli chutney which will be available to buy in the Café and at our Farmers’ Market held every Saturday on the Bandstand Terrace.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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