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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

A Calm Visit to the Horniman

Want to find a quite and peaceful spot in our Museum? Engage Volunteer, Anahita Harding, has just the ticket. Here, she tells us her favourite calm spots and the best times to visit them. 

'Sometimes the Museum can feel quite busy and hectic but for those in the know, there are some places that are a bit quieter where you can get find some peace.

The Gardens are a lovely place to go when a quiet spot is needed but on a rainy day this isn’t always ideal. If you ever need a quiet spot to think and be calm, here are some indoor spaces I like to go to during my breaks.

Nature Base

If you want to see the harvest mice, come to the Nature Base in the morning, as this is the best time to see them running and climbing! The harvest mice are crepuscular, which means that they are most active in the mornings and in the evenings.

The quietest time tends to be in the morning when the Museum has just opened but the Nature Base can get busy during other times of the day.

  • A calm visit to the Horniman, The harvest mice in the Nature Base are best seen in the morning.
    The harvest mice in the Nature Base are best seen in the morning.

The Natural History Gallery balcony

The Natural History Gallery balcony has a variety of cases with interesting specimens in them. There is also a nice space here to read stories and books. A grand clock is near the staircase, and it gently chimes every fifteen minutes. It is called the Apostle Clock and was made during the 19th century in Germany.

Usually, the balcony is very quiet and is a nice space to learn while watching everyone in the gallery below. There is also a good view of the walrus!

  • A calm visit to the Horniman, The apostle clock is on the Natural History Gallery balcony
    The apostle clock is on the Natural History Gallery balcony

The Aquarium

Have you seen the jellyfish in the Aquarium? As you enter the Aquarium you will see a space lit up with a calming blue light, and jellyfish gently moving through their tank. It is lovely to watch them move. Above, you will see a large turtle hanging from the ceiling, can you find it? This is one of my favourite spots, and I hope you enjoy it too.'

  • A calm visit to the Horniman, Watching the jellyfish can be very calming
    Watching the jellyfish can be very calming

The Museum is at it's quietest after 2.30pm on weekdays during term time. 

Share your favourite peaceful spots from the Museum and Gardens with us using #horniman.

Find out more about volunteering at the Horniman

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.

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! 

Charms, amulets and resilience

Our museum youth theatre groups are inspired by the Horniman amulet collection to create Discovery Boxes of magic and protection. 

  • Charms, amulets and resilience, scrolls with magic protective rituals
    scrolls with magic protective rituals

Every Monday, we work in partnership with GLYPT to hold two museum youth theatre groups – one for eight-11 year olds and one for 11-14 year olds. This is part of GLYPT’s ‘Whatever’ programme.

Each term, the 2 groups work to a particular museum theme. As the Horniman holds lots of amulets and charms in its collection, in Spring Term we used these and the idea of ‘magic and protection’ for inspiration. This theme was also an interesting way to explore ideas of wellbeing resilience with participants.

Before the drama session starts, there is always Safe Space – this is time to do some artwork, relax after school, chat with others and have a snack. During Safe Space the 11-14 year olds have been making a ‘Discovery Box’ of magic and protection.

Here is the group’s description of the box:
This box has been created by the Whatever Makes You Happy Group in Spring 2016 that meet every Monday and use the objects in the Museum to inspire their drama sessions. In our Discovery Box you’ll find objects that represent magic and protection. It includes:
• Potions of protection.
• Handmade amulets.
• Candle light holders to light the way home.
• Mandalas.
• An individually-designed charm bracelet with a horse shoe for luck, a wand for magic, a symbol for a best friend and a heart for love.

  • Charms, amulets and resilience, Daisy's Rainbow Dream Magic Potion
    Daisy's Rainbow Dream Magic Potion

  • Charms, amulets and resilience, A colourful mandala to decorate the box
    A colourful mandala to decorate the box

  • Charms, amulets and resilience, Sunshine magic potion
    Sunshine magic potion

Here are the ingredients to Summer’s Sunshine Magic Potion and powers they could give you:
• One cup of magical gems.
• Three cups of feathers – protection that guides the way.
• Two sparkly bells of happiness and forgiveness.
• Three drops of sweets that tells you the path to go on.
• One magic shell of sound that protects you from danger.
• Finally two blue and yellow see through papers that turn you invisible whenever you want.

Museums and Wellbeing

An important focus of the work we do in the Community Learning Team is working in partnership with local services that provide mental health support for people. We do this in a whole range of ways - this might be taking objects out into hospital wards, running projects with partners such as the GLYOT 'Whatever' Project and offering training for professionals who work in mental health settings.

We also want people visiting the museum to find out about the work of these vital support organisations and to have an opportunity to have conversations with people who use these services.

So on a busy Thursday in October half term, we worked with Lewish Mental Health Connection to run an event that approached the idea of how culture and creativity can help improve mental wellbeing.

Exploring objects as part of our Wellbeing event.

It was brilliant day with over 600 people taking part. In Gallery Square LMHC had an information stall and a Time to Change Champion was there to have conversations with visitors about mental health.

Arts Network ran a ‘wellbeing’ trail around the museum. They asked people to find ‘wellbeing checkpoints’ in the museum and do an activity there that could help them reach their ‘5 ways to wellbeing’.

These included ‘Take Notice’ – where people had to explore a museum object and find out more and ‘Give’ – where visitors pledged to do something to help another person or improve their wellbeing.

A snap of our sand mandala workshop.


Quo Vadis Trust ran a sand mandala making workshop where visitors created a mandala together then swept it away.

Some pledges from our tree.


Each participant left with a small amount of sand in these beautiful envelopes hand drawn by Sarah from QVT.

An envelope featuring a mandala.

Equinox Care ran a workshop for families about playing games together – or as described by one of the children who took part:

“we played a fun game, we split into groups and made a moving vehicle and we made up stories – it was so fun”.

To finish the day Hexagon Housing Association ran a wonderfully calm Mindfulness Session in the Hands on Base. We spent time holding museum objects, relaxing and noticing the sensations that happen as you connect with an object in your hands.

 

Storytelling with the Stroke Association

The Horniman regularly hosts visits from the Stroke Association, enabling stroke surviviors and their families to meet and explore the collections. We recently heard from Melvin about his experiences with the group and how it has helped him explore the Horniman.

Hello, My name is Melvin and I have been attending the Horniman Stroke Association group since March 2014.

In November we had an interesting session with a professional story teller called Margaret. She started with a gentle song with actions about the sea and the earth. Then we all took turns to open a special box and use our imagination to say what was inside. Other group members saw flowers, money, gold, the sea, a cat. I saw a magic mirror. Next, Margaret told a short story about her daughter encountering a snake in Brixton. After that, she encouraged us to tell stories about animals. Sue talked about her 'house rabbit' called Roger. I shared a story about my dog Spangle answering the phone.

Margaret then told a long but enchanting story about an old woman, a snake and a Royal Family. She used her voice and hands to hold our interest. Lastly, she asked us to re-tell parts of the story in small groups. In my group Sue spoke about the beginning of the story and I illustrated her tale by using gestures.

Overall, I thought this session was the best ever! There was less talking and more hand gestures, which I found very useful.

You can find out more about how the Horniman works with community groups in our Learning pages.

Wellbeing and the Museum: Youth Theatre at the Horniman

Our Community Engagement team work with a variety of local groups to help them get the most our of our collections. Here, Rachel gives us a look at a project started this year with Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre.

Here at the Horniman, the Learning Team frequently see the positive effects engaging with the museum can have on people’s wellbeing. Our collections and programmes provide great opportunities for people to connect with others, to learn and be inspired and to have time to reflect on the beauty and complexity of the world we live in.

Last year, we met with Jeremy and Emily from GLYPT and they told us about their brilliant project ‘Whatever Makes you Happy’. This project seeks to increase good mental health and wellbeing in young people. We formed a partnership with GLYPT with the aim to work together on this and use the museum resources in a way that would greatly add to the ‘Whatever’ programme.

Together we now run a weekly drama class for 11-14 year olds where the participants have after-hours access to the museum and can use the galleries and handling collection to inspire their work.

Last term ended with a truly brilliant promenade piece performed for parents, carers and friends and we look forward to a great Summer Term ahead.

The Horniman also supports participants in its Youth Programme to take part in GLYPT as Peer Mentors. Here Heidi tells us more about what the role involves:

I have been helping teach drama to kids aged 11- 14. The session starts off with safe space where we do something creative, this helps them focus. After this, we start doing the drama. The kids used the museum’s objects to create characters for their play. We wanted them to explore their own characters and scenarios as much as possible.

I’m a Peer Mentor. I join in all of the activities with the kids, and I’m a role model to them. It’s nice to have younger people as well as the adults in the group, some kids find it easier to relate.

I was doing a Youth Work Placement at the museum and my supervisor Beth told me about it so I got involved. I am very interested in theatre, so it was great to be around people who were too.

We let the kids be themselves. It was wonderful to see them change every week, they have all grown more confident.

The final event was great, everyone got up and said their lines. Some of them were so shy when they first started - so this was really amazing!

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