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Gods of the Sun

We’re taking a look at stories of some of the sun gods that feature in our collections.

Surya and Hinduism

In Hinduism, Surya is known as the solar deity and is often represented in iconography as a person riding a chariot of seven horses. This represents seven colours of light and seven days of the week. Surya was one of five deities worshipped throughout India and is ranked highly in the Vedas - a large body of religious texts - which date back to 1500 BC.

Surya is recognised in the Gayatri Mantra: one of the most powerful mantras in Hindu religion. The chant is said to create a powerful energy upon the users mind and body.

There are many stories of Surya, as he also features in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, but in Rig Veda text - an ancient collection of Indian Sanskrit hymns - Surya is believed to be created by Lord Bhrama with the sound in the universe, Om and the intelligence of Vishnu.

Have you heard of salutation to the sun (surya namaskar) or sun salutations? It’s a fundamental move in the practise of yoga.

The movements are said to be of Hanuman facing Surya as the chariot travelled across the sky, showing his gratitude for the lessons he learned, honouring Surya as the source of energy and light for the world.

  • Red shield, Shield possibly of Surya, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Shield possibly of Surya, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Ra and the Egyptians

In Egyptian mythology, Ra was worshipped as the god of the Sun and all creation, and even the king of the gods. He came in many forms, including a ram, a hawk-headed man and a scarab. In the IV dynasty, pharaohs were seen as the ‘sons of Ra’ and by the V dynasty, he was worshipped state wide, and temples and pyramids were built in his honour.

Ra is said to be a creator of all life in varying accounts. Some texts say that Ra created people from his sweat and tears, and he is also said to have brought everything into existence by uttering secret names.

Ra’s role as a creation god is strengthened by his story of renewal. It is said that Ra sailed across the skies during the day on a boat called ‘Barque of Millions of Years’. He then emerged in the east on a boat named ‘Madjet’ or ‘becoming strong’, which was called ‘Semektet’, or ‘becoming weak’ by the end of the day. Ra died by being swallowed by Nut - the goddess of the sky - and sailed in the underworld leaving the moon to light up the Earth. So, Ra is reborn at the beginning of each day and swallowed by Nut.

  • Sacrab charm, Scarab charm, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Scarab charm, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Amaterasu and Japan

In Japanese Shinto mythology, Amaterasu, meaning shining in heaven, is the goddess of the sun. With her brother Susano’o, the god of the moon, they painted the landscape to create ancient Japan.

There are tales of rivalry between the siblings, which vary to some degree. Amaterasu proposed a challenge to Susano’o, to create people from an object belonging to the other. Amaterasu created three women from his sword and Susano’o made five men from her necklace. As these men were made from her necklace, Amaterasu said they were all created from her and in anger, Susano’o destroyed her rice fields and one of her assistants.

Because of this Amaterasu went into hiding in a cave, hiding the sun for a long time, which caused devils to come out of the darkness.

The god of happiness, Ama-no-Uzume, danced outside the cave, tearing her clothes off in front of the spirits (Kami) to make them laugh. Upon hearing the gods laugh, Amaterasu looked out of the cave to see a reflection of her light in a mirror that Ama-no-Uzume had put on a tree. Once out of the cave the door was closed behind Amaterasu, so she could not go back in, bathing light across Japan once more.

Amaterasu then remained with the gods whilst Susano’o was banished from heaven as punishment.

  • Panel, Item: nn1202, Embroidered panel, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Item: nn1202, Embroidered panel, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Recording the Brain Collection Archives

Photography Student, Fern Denyer shares her experience volunteering at the Study Collection Centre and assisting with the recording of the Brain Collection Archives.

Recently I completed a three-month placement at the Horniman’s Study Collection Centre (SCC), where I assisted with acquisitions and archives from the Brain Collection. Acquisitions are objects acquired by the Museum from donations. I helped with objects and archives from 1953 that were collected in Sudan and Nigeria.

  • Small wooden female hand-held figure with bow, Small wooden female hand-held figure with bow, 2019.57, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Small wooden female hand-held figure with bow, 2019.57, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp, Deputy Keeper of Anthropology, and Carly Randall, Archivist, organised my 12-week student placement which included accessioning, a way of recording new additions to collections and scanning an archive of 35mm photographic slides. I also assisted Sarah Duncan, the Horniman’s Photographer, with photographing and retouching the objects. Later in the programme I gained a unique insight into how Museum acquisitions are managed and the procedures involved at an Acquisitions and Disposals Committee Meeting.

The Brain Collection archive is made up of hundreds of photographic slides, each of which needed to be scanned and uploaded onto the Collections Database: a system called MIMSY.

I described and recorded each scan carefully, giving each one its own unique collection number. With guidance from Johanna, I also gave each slide a rough estimation of what had been shot and its location.

As well as archive material, there were lots of objects in the collection that needed to be labelled. Working with Rosamund West, Documentation Officer, I learned how to handle objects appropriately and record their measurements.

Rosamund also showed me how to label the objects using both ink and other materials. I used ink and varnish to mark the objects with collection numbers (it required a very steady hand!).

As a photography student, it was insightful to see how the Photographer Sarah worked in the studio. Sarah was encouraging and allowed me to shoot some images in the collection.

Getting hands-on experience with museum photography really helped to improve my confidence. I really enjoyed working in the studio and seeing what decisions Sarah made to get the best possible photographs of the objects. She showed me the process of editing images post-production and a layering image technique which ensures the entire object is in focus.

During this volunteering opportunity, I saw different aspects of how a collection is prepared and how museum stores are organised. I also gained knowledge about how an archive is appropriately managed.

Overall I have really appreciated my student placement experience and learned so many skills. I saw the progression of the Brain Collection as a project and assisted at each stage. I now also feel much more confident photographing in a studio setting.

About the Art: Claire Morgan

We caught up with internationally-exhibited sculptor and artist Claire Morgan about her body of artwork, As I Live and Breathe.

Hello Claire, Can you tell us about yourself as an artist? How did you become an artist?

It might be a cliché, but as early as I can remember, I always wanted to be an artist when I grew up.

At some point during school I was gently told that you can’t actually work as an artist, so I started looking at fashion design, but everything kept going back to sculpture. I studied sculpture at Northumbria Uni, and as soon as I graduated I started applying for absolutely any opportunity I could find, regardless of the fact that I had no CV.

Basically, I just kept working every waking second, and eventually I got one or two temporary commissions, and it started to grow from there. About 10 years ago I was approached by Karsten Greve, and around that time drawing started to become more significant for me.

Now my practice spans a lot of different media, and the explorations in one area feed into the other areas. Day-to-day, the hands-on side of my practice usually involves drawing, painting, planning sculptures on paper, and doing taxidermy.

  • As I Live and Breathe, As I Live and Breathe, 2019, Claire Morgan
    As I Live and Breathe, 2019, Claire Morgan

What would you like visitors to think about when they see As I Live and Breathe?

I would like them to think, and I feel like sometimes a written explanation limits the potential for that.

It is too easy to explain an artwork away to nothing, and I like my work to retain an element of ambiguity, so I don’t think it is helpful to spell out exactly what I want someone to think.

Aside from that, my work isn’t the result of a linear process – it isn’t a case of me figuring out how to make people think a certain thing, it is more that I think about certain things and the work comes out as a result of that. It’s more a process of me asking myself questions and exploring the unexpected possibilities that arise from that process of questioning.

That said, I can certainly tell you what I am thinking about, which leads to my ideas.

I am terrified by the aggressively selfish attitude we as a society have towards everything around us. We just keep consuming and consuming, and even now do little more than pay lip service to actually dealing with the mess we have made of the planet and the disastrous direction we are moving in.

I’m not for a minute suggesting that I am not complicit in this. I suppose that is part of what scares me. It is so easy to lead a double life – to be genuinely concerned about our impact, but to knowingly placate yourself by doing good yet relatively ineffectual things like refusing plastic straws, while still taking transatlantic flights and eating meat and dairy.

We hurt ourselves, mentally and physically, and we hurt what sustains us. And yet, amid all of this, there is the overwhelming beauty and frailty of life.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

At the moment I have been working with pastels and pigments, and the bodies of dead animals. So a bit of a broad range there!

I like having the freedom to move between different materials and techniques. The thing I enjoy most is learning. That often means I put myself in the position of doing things I find very difficult, and therefore the process can be infuriating and slow.

What is the creative process of making your sculptures and artwork?

Whether the end result is a drawing or painting or sculpture or all of those things, all my ideas tend to start in the same way.

I need to move away from my everyday working environment. That can mean going outside and walking, travelling, visiting museums, cinema, gigs and reading books. Anything that can transport me either physically or mentally.

Generally, the most productive thing is to go elsewhere. Then ideas begin to appear in the form of words or shapes. I then start to sketch these things very roughly and discover connections between them.

What drew you to using taxidermy?

When I was younger I was not interested in taxidermy at all, and perhaps I even disliked it a bit because I had jumped to conclusions and never really thought about it properly.

But I’ve always used organic matter in my work. Animals are just a part of that.

Early on I was just using bits of animals, feathers and unpreserved dead things, but as my work developed I moved away from simply exploring decay, and became preoccupied with the specific roles of the lifeforms in my work.

I wanted to be able to manipulate the specific positions of animals, and to control them visually, and to halt their decay. I found that in order to do that I needed taxidermy, and as I started to learn the various processes, my understanding of it changed entirely, and the process of touching and exploring the dead beings has become a central part of my practice.

  • Sliding Out Cold, 2019, By the Skin of the Teeth, 2019, Sliding Out Cold, 2019, By the Skin of the Teeth, 2019, Claire Morgan
    Sliding Out Cold, 2019, By the Skin of the Teeth, 2019, Claire Morgan

What motivates and influences you as an artist? What other artists are you drawn to?

I don’t think I’m motivated primarily by other artists, perhaps more by their approach, their way of thinking, and their single-mindedness and determination.

Back when I was studying, like 20 years ago, I was really influenced by people like Anya Gallaccio, Rebecca Horn and Kiki Smith. Now I’m perhaps more influenced by people working in other artforms.

The writing of David Foster Wallace has directly inspired new ideas many times.

Music is a vital part of my process when I’m working on the more expressionistic parts of drawings and paintings, and when thinking of new ideas. At the moment I use Aphex Twin, Bjork, Jon Hopkins, Fuck Buttons, Nathan Fake, Nick Cave, and various other electronic/techno stuff. It’s not just reading and listening to tunes – I cannot make work without this.

Your artwork has been a residence in some beautiful places, such as the Musse Jean Lucrat. Where has been your favourite place to display so far? Or where is your dream location to display your work?

Working at Chateau d’Oiron was pretty amazing. The location, the historical details of the chateau, and the permanent collection of contemporary art there are all very inspiring. I was offered the attic of the chateau, and there was evidence of many animals living in that room currently – or at least using it – not just insects, pigeons and rodents, but barn owls, bats, and pine martens. There was an important renaissance fresco in the room directly below, and I developed my work in response to all these things.

Dream locations… Well an obvious one in the UK is the Turbine Hall. I’d be excited by any opportunity to work on a very large scale temporary commission in a culturally or historically significant location. That seems to be the kind of situation where I work best.

Your artworks seem to play with concepts of time and fantasy, what other narratives do you feel your artwork has?

Fantasy isn’t something I really think about in relation to my work. Everything I make stems from observations and concerns about what I see around me, consciousness and our perception of reality, and the physical world.

I’m interested in the passing of time, and our complete lack of control in the face of the change that brings. That affects every other aspect of our lives, and I think it does have a considerable role in the way we try to distance ourselves from other animals and from nature, because at the end of the day nature embodies change and mortality, and that is what scares us most.

What do you have coming up?

I’m currently working towards a solo exhibition at Galerie Karsten Greve Paris in 2020.

Some projects just culminated – my exhibition at the Horniman, and a new body of work for the Fondation Daniel & Florence Guerlain Drawing Prize.

Generally I am quite drained and need to start from scratch when I’ve finished a project, so now I’m really trying to focus on my studio practice, researching and experimenting a bit, and starting to develop new ideas for the solo show.

At the moment I also have work in some group exhibitions in Germany and France.

Two suspended installations and two paintings can be seen at Biennale Ephémères, Château de Monbazillac, France, until 30 September, and other works can also be seen at Bêtes de scène, Villa Datris, France until 3 Nov 2019, and ARTENREICH – Insekten in der Kunst, Museum Sinclair-Haus, Germany, until 13 October.

All my current and forthcoming projects (and my studio and cats!) can be followed @clairemorganstudio on Instagram and Facebook, and on the news page of my website.

The Windrush Generation: The Journey through to Life

2019 is the first year that the nation celebrated Windrush day as an officially recognised anniversary, so we spoke with Caribbean elders and heard their experiences.

Rachael Minott, Horniman’s Curator of Anthropology (Social Practice), with the help of Shasti Lowton, created a series of events where multiple generations of Caribbeans could gather and share food, stories and advice. 

Here, the group shares challenges in the education system, career successes and aspirations, through letters to their parents.

Morella Forde

  • Morella Forde, Morella Forde
    Morella Forde

Mum tells us how fortunate we are, she was born during wartime and had little schooling. She always looks up at us when she needs to write her letters or complete forms.

She tells us stories of her childhood days, sometimes not attending school and having very little to eat as it was difficult in the war.

I must say I am grateful for what I have achieved in my education here. I believe the education system in the Caribbean overall is much better than here. All of my friends who went to school with me always talk about how we were left behind when we came to school here.

We had already learnt all the subjects which was being taught according to our ages in the class. However, when you get older to 18 years on, you do need to leave Dominica and seek to travel to another country to study at university level as Dominica doesn’t have a university.

Catherine Ross


Mum and Dad - Your courage and persistence helped you succeed in creating a home for your family, providing for your growing family needs and inspiring your family and others to reach for the stars and follow their dreams.

What you will be delighted to know is the little clan you have created did just that.

  • Catherine Ross, Catherine Ross
    Catherine Ross

The name Ross is now associated with entrepreneurial activity and a range of business ventures - children’s nurseries and playschools, fashion and beauty salons, art and culture, and catering.

All these businesses have the same ethos as the one you created in your early days in England, bringing people together and helping them to survive, thrive and navigate their way around English society.

Your house parties were legendary; people still talk about them today. Many people say they don’t know how they would have coped in the early days of settling into the country if you hadn’t generously opened your home and hearts to them.

Shebeens and Blues Parties developed from house parties, but Caribbeans needed these spaces where they could escape the racism of those days.


  • Rachael Minott, Rachael Minott
    Rachael Minott

Mum and Dad - Despite your knowledge and experience you had to start over with work here, because no one trusted what you knew.

You went from managers to receptionist, sat through interviews for jobs - which no longer existed - just to be tested.

You conducted yourselves in the constant pursuit of excellence and told us that it did not matter what we chose to do, but that we were the best we could be in that role.

You encouraged excellence and we too pursue excellence until this day. However, it means I expect excellence in return. Sometimes it means I am disappointed, by the world, the people I interact with and in myself.

Dunstan Creavalle

Pops - It's been nine years since you passed but not a day goes by without us celebrating your love of photography.

With me on my Samsung 8 plus and Vanes on her IPhone 8, we continue capturing magical memories and to make our own mark documenting history.

Your journey meant you were known throughout London (especially east London), as Andy the Photographer who did weddings, christenings, passports and many other celebrations.

  • Dustan Creavalle, Dustan Creavalle
    Dustan Creavalle

I am pleased that you got to see the start of my Photography Journey, with Soca News, then the City of London Black Police Association, which led to my connection with the 100 Black Men of London, and becoming their Official Photographer in 2002.

I know you will be pleased to hear that Vanes is continuing photography for 100 Black Men of London and taking things even further by creating videos that highlight the work we do.

In fact, last week she was representing at Caesars Palace Las Vegas!

I know as a boxing fan, that's one place you would have loved to capture Muhammed Ali.

Horniman Early Keyboard Competition 2020

Entries are now open for the Horniman Early Keyboard Competition to be held from 28 April to 1 May 2020. The instruments to be used for the competition are the Adam Beyer square piano, London, 1777 and Onofrio Guarracino virginals, Naples, 1668.

The competition is open to performers who will be under the age of 36 on 1st May 2020. Two rounds will be held on consecutive days and up to five people will go forward to the second round. Awards will include a cash prize of £200, an audience prize, and recitals at UK venues.

In addition to the two rounds of the competition, there will be special masterclasses and a Maestros’ concert by the three adjudicators.

Entry fee for competitors: £30. Entry includes free admission to the two masterclasses and Maestros’ concert.

How to enter: Fill in the Application Form with the required information. Remember to consult the repertoire list below.

A link to payment to secure your place in the competition will be provided once all information has been processed.

Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. We can accommodate up to 15 players. Early entry advised.


Competition Rules:

Conditions of performing

Due to the rarity, age and sensitive condition of the instruments, all performers must have had previous experience playing historic keyboards and must also be willing to attend in advance an introduction to the instruments with Mimi Waitzman, Deputy Keeper of Musical Instruments. This induction is required only once. Permission to play the instruments is at the sole discretion of the Horniman Museum.

Inductions will be held on Monday 27 April 2020 from 2pm till 5pm or by special arrangement further in advance. Contact Beatrice Booker to arrange an induction.

Masterclass Information

Masterclasses will take place on two afternoons. On Tuesday 28 April Marcia Hadjimarkos will give the early piano class; and on Wednesday 29 April Catalina Vicens will give the virginals class. Any competitor wishing to participate in one or both of the masterclass(es) must, nevertheless, apply separately as players’ places will be limited. Players may not perform their competition repertoire for the masterclass(es). Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.  
Email Lorraine Liyanage to register.


Guarracino Virginals (1668) and Beyer Square Piano (1777)

Instruments’ Technical Specifications

  • Guarracino Virginals 1668, Guarracino Virginals,1668
    Guarracino Virginals,1668

  • Beyer Square Piano, 1777, Beyer Square Piano, 1777, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Beyer Square Piano, 1777, Horniman Museum and Gardens


Performers will be required to perform from a list of repertoire as follows:

Thursday 30 April
Round One 15 minutes of music

Virginals: 7 to 8 minutes of music made up of selections from the following:
JJ Froberger: a toccata plus a suite from the first book (1649).
G Frescobaldi: a toccata from the first book (edition of 1637 (1st edition 1615)) plus a balletto, corrente and ciaccona or passacaglia.
Alessandro Scarlatti: any toccata plus various compositions 

Square piano: 7 to 8 minutes of music made up of selections from the following:
JC Bach: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements.
Domenico Scarlatti: a pair of contrasting sonatas.
Maria Hester Park: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements.

Friday 1 May
Round Two 25 minutes of music

Virginals: 12 to 13 minutes of music made up of selections from the following:
Any toccata, canzona or ricercare by GM Trabaci or M Rossi.
G Frescobaldi: a set of Partite.
G Frescobaldi: a toccata from the second book (1637).
JJ Froberger: a capriccio or ricercar from 1656 or 1658, plus a suite from the book of 1656.

Square piano: 12 to 13 minutes of music from the following:
J Haydn: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements.
WA Mozart: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements.
JL Dussek: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements.
Marianna von Martinez: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements.


In The Company Of Finchcocks - Chamber Organ Masterclass with Stephen Farr

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to take part in a Chamber Organ Masterclass with the widely esteemed Stephen Farr.

  • View of Organ , English chamber organ (c.1800, possibly by Joseph Beloudy)
    English chamber organ (c.1800, possibly by Joseph Beloudy)

We would like to invite up to six organists and early keyboard musicians to apply for the Chamber Organ Masterclass at the Horniman on Thursday 12 September 2019, 2pm-5pm.

Stephen Farr will focus on historically informed performance practice and will guide players through appropriate techniques and interpretation using their chosen repertoire. All players will receive tuition on the Finchcocks English chamber organ (c.1800, possibly by Joseph Beloudy) now restored to playing condition. It retains its original pedal-bellows.

Prospective players are encouraged to apply early, as places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Auditors (most suitable for ages 12 and over) are also welcome and may attend free any time during the afternoon.

If you wish to play in the Masterclass please complete a Player Application Form and return it to Beatrice Booker: bbooker@horniman.ac.uk.

Once your place is offered, you will be required to secure it within two working days by paying the £20 registration fee. After two days, non-secured places will be offered to the next applicant. Full payment details will be provided on receipt of the application form.

Please note:

  • Permission to play the organ is at the sole discretion of the Horniman.
  • Practice time can be allocated on request.
  • The full specification for the instrument is available.

  • full length view of organ. , English chamber organ (c.1800, possibly by Joseph Beloudy)
    English chamber organ (c.1800, possibly by Joseph Beloudy)

About Stephen Farr

Stephen Farr’s performing career has taken him throughout Europe, North and South America, and to Australia. He has held appointments at Christ Church, Oxford, and Winchester and Guildford Cathedrals before pursuing a freelance career as a soloist and continuo player.

Farr’s extensive solo discography encompasses music from the 16th to the 21st century and he has played with many of the world’s leading ensembles, and appeared in major venues. His numerous appearances at the BBC Proms include a solo recital in the 2011 season and a concerto in the 2015 season.

Farr is the Director of Music at St Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge, and teaches organ at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  He was Organ Scholar of Clare College, Cambridge, obtaining a double first in Music and an MPhil in Musicology; he also completed a PhD on the organ and harpsichord works of Judith Bingham.


The Windrush Generations: Experiences of passing

2019 is the first year that the nation celebrates Windrush day as an officially recognised anniversary, so we spoke with Caribbean elders and heard their experiences.

Rachael Minott, Horniman’s Curator of Anthropology (Social Practice), with the help of Shasti Lowton, created a series of events where multiple generations of Caribbeans could gather and share food, stories and advice. 

Here, the group discuss how different generations respond to the passing of their loved ones.


I didn't know my great grandfather, neither from madda nor fadda, but my mother grandfather, he was a lovely man and he was very old. I remember when he was ill they said he was shraveling.

We went to see him, and then we went to church. When we came back from church they said he died. I could remember all of us went into the bed with him! And jump up in the bed and stay in the bed with him a long time with him, because he was really a lovely man, he was old and peaceful.


In our current Caribbean society, you wouldn't see many people get into bed with somebody who’s passed. That's because you had such closeness, I think we are missing those close relationships with our family members so you wouldn't dream of doing that.

But also again, society views death differently, English society, and we pick that up unfortunately, and so they are there and we are here. Before, you would spend time hugging them until they went cold.


The way you brought me up, I know that when someone passes you wash the body, you sit with the body, and you talk to the body. It’s normal.

But if I say that to a friend of mine - even Caribbean friends, or those of Caribbean decent - would look at me strangely. They don't really wash the body, their older relatives would but the younger ones of my generation and younger wouldn't think of doing that.

Rather than saying the kids don't do it, well the kids won’t do it if they don’t know how to do it, unless they have been taught.

That's the thing about tradition, heritage and all that stuff -you have to pass it on.

If you don't pass it on, if you don't do it around people, people never pick it up. You have to teach.

Let’s Beat Plastic Pollution

As an organisation, we strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible. From improving energy efficiency inside to recycling and composting outside.

In light of our current #BeatPlasticPollution pop-up display in the Aquarium, we are looking at the effects plastic is having on the world’s oceans, marine life and us.

Did you know?

  • Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are bought every minute.
  • 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. 
  • Half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away.
  • Plastic rubbish on our streets is washed into storm drains, to the sea polluting our oceans.
  • A staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans every year.
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world-around the size of 500 jumbo jets.
  • Most plastic in the ocean breaks up into tiny particles, which are then swallowed by fish.

  • Fishtank and fact, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    , Horniman Museum and Gardens

  • If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050!
  • By 2050, 99% of seabirds could have ingested plastic. Wild seabirds have started laying eggs that contain substances and chemicals found in plastic.
  • Animals get tangled in plastic rubbish like six-pack rings and old fishing nets.

  • Fish and fact 3 , Horniman Museum and Gardens
    , Horniman Museum and Gardens

  • Clownfish and plastic, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    , Horniman Museum and Gardens

  • Whales entangled in derelict fishing gear can endure a slow death - the 'ghost nets' that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen, are often nearly invisible in the dim light, so hard to avoid.
  • Right now, there are microplastics inside your body, in the food you just ate and the air you’re breathing. It is still unknown to scientists what effect this may have on our bodies.
  • Coral reefs are smothered in plastic bags and litter destroying this important habitat. See what pioneering work our Aquarists with international partners are doing to help restore our coral reefs in Project Coral.

  • Fish and fact 2, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    , Horniman Museum and Gardens

It may feel like one person can’t do much, but by not taking that plastic bag at the supermarket or by using the cafe coffee cup on your morning order you are helping to make a big difference to our environment for our future to come.

Things we can do to help

  • Support local and national organisations – like us – who are taking action against plastic pollution.
  • Ask your local restaurant to stop using plastic straws, bamboo, paper and metal are the smarter alternatives. The Horniman Café refills water bottles, stocks canned water and uses plant-based packaging.
  • Bring your own coffee mug or travel mug to work.
  • Choose reusable products that are designed to be durable, repairable, reusable, refillable or upgradable.
  • Recycle - Separate your waste and turn metals, paper, glass, plastic and bio-waste into valuable resources.
  • Take part in a beach, park or street clean up. Get involved: there are probably clean-up efforts happening near you. If not, start one! Think creatively—the possibilities are endless!
  • Do not flush litter down the drain, much of it ends up in the ocean.
  • Helping to create cleaner streets, parks, forests, and beaches is a positive benefit for people and wildlife.
  • Spark a conversation about zero-waste living on social media.
  • Upgrade your apps! Find water-drinking stations using the Refill app or swap and find unwanted items on the Freecycle app on iOS and Android.


  • Reusable bottles and travel mugs in gift shop., Horniman Museum and Gardens
    , Horniman Museum and Gardens

  • Why not use reusable carry bags, totes or basket instead or the single-use plastic bag.
  • When you are out and about a reusable drinking bottle is long-lasting, refillable and so much more stylish. Our Gift Shop stocks a selection of reusable bottles, cups and tote bags.


Find out how we are working to become a more environmentally friendly organisation on our sustainability page.  Our #BeatPlasticPollution pop-up display is in the Aquarium until Thursday 1 August 2019.

The Windrush Generation: Teaching the Other Generations

2019 will be the first year that the nation celebrates Windrush day as an officially recognised anniversary, so we took this opportunity to talk with Caribbean elders and hear their experiences.

Rachael Minott, Horniman’s Curator of Anthropology (Social Practice), with the help of Shasti Lowton, created a series of events where multiple generations of Caribbeans could gather and share food, stories and advice. 

Here, the group discussed what they wish they could teach the generations.

Vanes Creavalle

I think maybe the power of accepting change.

Because it’s really hard to accept change, especially when you’ve seen a lot and experienced a lot of things, and I feel like you need to be more accepting of change in that there are different people. 

We have a really multicultural society but we seem very sheltered and isolated within our communities, which in some cases is good cos its nice we can develop our cultures and traditions, but in other senses, it's limiting what we can do.

Like saying, because I’m Caribbean I’m only going to have with Caribbean people, it stops us from making a much greater impact.

I think to have the diversity in that, telling your story to Caribbean people, but telling your story to others is important because there can be a mutual understanding. And I feel like until we have that understanding we are not really going to go anywhere.

Because you can always say, 'this is my story, this is my story'. And you can tell your family that story, but apart from that, where is your story going?

I don't think there is any further conversation.

  • Windrush: Howard, Vanes and Catherine laughing together, Howard, Vanes and Catherine laughing together
    Howard, Vanes and Catherine laughing together

So I think there needs to be more acceptance of change, as well as more conversations with not just your family, or the people in your race, or people you talk to normally - but more open conversation with everybody so we can come together and share what we have.

And then when we share we can create something much better in the future.

Catherine Ross

My granddaughter is eight going on eighty - she knows everything.

She’ll come up to me and say - cause she thinks I know nothing, I’m only her Grandma - she’ll say, 'I bet you don't know' or 'Did you know?' And I’m like, I’ve been here sixty-odd years, I think I will know a few things!

But you have to put on these things and be like, 'Really? And what happens next...' cause I’m pushing her with follow questions to see how much she does know, so then I can give my input.

She always feels like she has to teach me when I come visit, something she feels I won’t know. And I feel like that is really, really good.

But there are things that she does know that I’m sure I didn’t know until I was fifteen! You know what I mean, so I think the younger generation know a lot more than we ever did, and I certainly knew more than my dad.

  • Catherine Ross, Catherine Ross
    Catherine Ross

But only because they came from the Caribbean to here, and you know I grew up here, so I felt I knew everything and now my granddaughter is doing it to me, she knows more than I do.

I think it’s nice each generation can help the next.

Howard Richards

That's the goal though, you raise a child, the child learns you, then they go out and learn the world - and then they come back and teach you. Simple.

So the child becomes stronger. 

  • Windrush - Howard Richards, Howard Richards
    Howard Richards

The Windrush Generation: Memories of Family

2019 will be the first year that the nation celebrates Windrush day as an officially recognised anniversary, so we took this opportunity to talk with Caribbean elders and hear their experiences.

Rachael Minott, Horniman’s Curator of Anthropology (Social Practice), with the help of Shasti Lowton, created a series of events where multiple generations of Caribbeans could gather and share food, stories and advice. 

Here, the group shares some of their thoughts and memories connected to family.

  • Windrush: Howard, Vanes and Catherine laughing together, Howard, Vanes and Catherine laughing together
    Howard, Vanes and Catherine laughing together

Catherine Ross

Mum and Dad - Did you think when you settled your family of six in Nottingham from St Kitts all those years ago that one day you would have 210 descendants!

That through a series of marriages and romantic liaisons they would all claim and assert their familial link to you both with such fierce pride and love.

Many of these have Caribbean blood running through their veins and not just from St Kitts! In some of them, the blood of the English and the Irish have a presence and a vibrancy, but all of them have your indomitable spirit, that marvellous trait that brought you from sunny shores to a place that couldn’t be more different.

Where your courage and persistence helped you succeed in creating a home for your family, providing for your growing family needs and inspiring your family and others to reach for the stars and follow their dreams.

  • Catherine Ross, Catherine Ross
    Catherine Ross

Many a time I recalled a phrase you used when it was taking one of us a time to grasp things you were trying to teach us, “Yuh ears hard?”

That’s what I remember, Mum and Dad, the many Caribbean sayings you used in so many situations – from teaching us good manners to expressing your delight or annoyance over matters.

One thing all my siblings and I say when we get together for family reunions, is how much we are like you both in this regard. We hear ourselves chiding our children in the phrases we were regularly admonished with. We laugh and thank the Lord for you, the best parents ever.

Have we become more like you since your passing over a quarter of a century ago? We all say we hope so, and if we keep trying to be then the world will be a better place, how could it not be if we put our faith into practice and we try and help others less fortunate in whatever situation and community we find ourselves. 

We now realise, as you said, the best gift we will ever be given is family, they are a blessing and so we should treat them well and kindly because “You never miss the water till the well runs dry”.

If we had realised the importance of this saying of yours then we would have asked more questions of you: learned more life lessons from you and would have had even more of your wisdom to share with others - the world would have been an even more beautiful place.

We thank you for what you have shared with us and many others do too.

As people of the Windrush generation, you brought hope to these British shores, showed what rewards courage can bring and left a vibrant legacy, a beacon for all who inhabit the British Isles to be grateful for those who came from the Caribbean Isles.

I applaud you for your efforts, I recognise you for your achievements and I love you for showing us that it’s the people who make a difference to life. Thank you.

Vanes Creavalle

My Grandad. He was a photographer and the idea that he was capturing moments in history - I think it’s just really amazing to capture single moments. I think that's really beautiful.

As they say, pictures can tell a thousand words, so capturing moments in history, family moments and peoples smile even - I just think it’s so beautiful to take pictures.

In our house there is actually a picture of my granddad taking a picture and, as my dad always says, there are not many pictures of the people who take pictures.

I think that kind of capturing someone in their element doing something that they love, I think that's really powerful - that's always inspired me.

  • Windrush - Howard talking to Vanes, Howard talking to Vanes
    Howard talking to Vanes

Howard Richards

The best childhood memory I’ve got is my grandmother.

My mother and father came to England, leaving me in Jamaica. I was born in St Andrews in my father’s house where I was left with my Hanti.

My grandmother lived in Trewlany, which is on the north coast, St Andrews is in Kingston, in fact. My grandmother came from Trewlany and took us from my Hanti and brought us to Trewlany to live with her.

We walked with no shoes on the foot: beautiful. We walked through cane trees: beautiful.

I used to think about coming to England. I’m going to go to England one day and see my mother and father. But when I left Jamaica to come here I cry for all three, four weeks, because I missed my grandmother.

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